A Dose of Delhi-belly

After having the worst night’s sleep I think I had since the start of our Indian excursions due to waking up feeling an unfamiliar chill in the night (one thing I did not expect to be feeling in India) and being kept awake by the howling, honking fanfare that surrounded my apartment every night, I woke up and fished out my last pair of clean knickers (I really needed to commit to doing more bucket washes!) and had coco pops for breakfast to give me a bit of a kick. I was really starting to miss English Breakfasts; everything was so sweet in India and I got to the point where I would murder a bacon sandwich or even just a good old slice of toast with butter.

We were onto the start of our third week at Help in Suffering so by now we were starting to get the gist of things. We spent the morning helping in the neutering clinic with me and Beth taking it in turns to do the surgeries, we then went to help the rescue team give fluids, clean wounds etc. One thing both myself and Beth struggled with while helping at the rescue was their attitude to infection control. My mother (clean freak of the century) was horrified to discover that there was no disinfectant of bleach to be found anywhere for cleaning. Instead, the pens were just doused in water which essentially just smeared the bacteria around rather than killed it, hence infection rates were truly through the roof. There was no isolation facilities or forethought to what animals went where and which ones were mixed. Ergo, without considering the consequences the staff would put a parvo puppy in with a puppy with skin trauma and low and behold a few days later, puppy number 2 gets parvo also. It could be quite frustrating at times when we were surrounded by preventable illness and death which could have so easily been tackled with a bit of bleach and some forward thinking.

That afternoon, we put a cast on a young bull’s leg who had sustained a metatarsal fracture following an argument with a car. Again, this process was like something out of faulty towers; firstly, the vet tried to wrestle the bull to the ground, followed by the aid of three other compounders. It was at this point while these fellows were sweating and swearing and getting launched around that I pointed out no one had remembered to give it any sedation…. there were a few looks of embarrassment due to that little revelation. Once properly sedated the bull went down nicely and they left me …. a 50kg girl to pin it ….by myself while they all faffed around trying to forcibly straighten the bull’s leg. Now, understandably the bull didn’t like this very much and even with xylazine coursing through its veins, all the not so gentle hefting of its broken leg hurt a bit, and I was still the only thing in the way of this bull getting back up! After being thrown around for about 10 minutes with no assistance, I ended up having a small temper tantrum (which is often the only way things get done) and demanded that someone come and help me pin the animal, which despite the 7 spectators idly gawking at the scene, no one had thought to do so earlier! Even then, the fellow who did begrudgingly come to my aid kept just getting up and wandering off on his phone, much to the anger of the vet who started throwing things at him. Anyway, we finally all got into position and were casting the leg when Jack (head vet and fellow Englishman) comes and starts taking pictures of us all (at least he hadn’t arrived 10 minutes earlier!) for the facebook page. So, after quite a palaver the bull’s leg was finally nicely casted and it staggered away after its ordeal, probably not quite sure what hit it!

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That evening we were invited to have a few drinks with some of the younger compounders. So after work we nipped up to the shop and got a bottle of gin which, a warning to all, isn’t a patch on the British stuff (do not naively expect Bombay Sapphire and Indian tonic water like we did!) and more resembles paint stripper (but what do you expect for 3 pounds!). We also picked up our custom-made Sari blouses which we were eager to try on and muddle through how to coordinate the yards of fabric to look something like the beautiful Indian women. Anyway, we took the bottle of Gin up to the flats where a lot of the compounders lived and we all sat down and eagerly began working our way through the bottle of Gin. I should say, Indian fellows can’t handle their alcohol, with a mere few MLS in their system, they were slurring and sniggering and swaying about the place. One of the men who wasn’t drinking but had come to socialise had brought his daughter with him. She was the sweetest little thing with two pigtails which stuck straight out from the top of her head and she shyly came and sat next to me, sidled closer and held my hand. I have to admit, I was just a little bit smitten with this little smiley child and I immediately wanted to take her home when she began trying all my jewellery on and between little incoherent Hindi babbles kept giving me a kiss!

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We decided the men really needed some food on board to sober them up a little so we hailed a rickshaw and piled in. This was a significant squash with 5 Indian bums and 2 (significantly larger) English ones! We went to a local restaurant which clearly did not see a lot of non-Indian traffic, as the entire menu was in Hindi. We cautiously let the men order for us and ended up with a tasty combination of paneer dishes and garlic naan (yum). We ate until we were bursting and it seemed to do the job of sobering a few of them up, we then headed back out, again rammed in a tuctuc. One of the younger men, ViJay wanted me to get on the back of his bike and kept winking at me to which I told him he looked like he had something stuck in his eye. All the men at Help in Suffering were harmless enough but, would be caught regularly trying it on in hopes of wooing one of the infamous, promiscuous, white girls that they thought us all to be. My inner feminist heckled at this generalisation greatly.

I awoke the next morning to a very disconcerting rumble in the pit of my stomach and the unpleasant feeling which I can only describe as a hostile ball of gas throwing itself ferociously around my insides….. Delhi Belly was upon me! Whilst cursing the Indian blokes who we blindly trusted to find us a safe place to eat the other night, I hurried to the toilet. I had never experienced projectile vomit until that point, and I have to say it was a memorable experience! As my stomach heaved up its entire contents to rid itself of the offending article of food I’d ingested and sweat rolled down my burning forehead, I did genuinely feel like I was dying for those few minutes I was unable to leave the safety of the toilet. Beth, however, had the worse deal, she was unfortunate enough to have experienced a double ended assault (if you get my drift) which she described as “explosive”. I feel this may have been a little too detailed an account of my Delhi belly experience but equally, I feel you all need to know and prepare for such events!

Regardless of our fragile situation, like troopers, we staggered down to the neutering clinic armed with paracetamol and a sugary drink for some much-needed energy. Everyone found it hilarious that we were sick which we really weren’t in the mood for, and then preceded to quite genuinely ask if we were up for going drinking this evening! They all seemed genuinely shocked when we not so politely declined!! This was one of those moments where I missed English sensibilities, an English person wouldn’t have even dreamed of suggesting a night out, let alone demand an explanation for you not wanting to go. Now I am feeling better I can laugh at their oblivious persistence, but at the time I was licking my wounds and really not impressed by their lack of insight.

Despite our refusal earlier that day, the ever-persistent staff yet again came around after dinner to try and convince us to go drinking. We again firmly dismissed them and sent them away disappointed. When feeling slightly better, Beth and I decided to try on our sari blouses. This was a much more entertaining fiasco than originally planned as Beth’s boobs, despite having been measured especially for this blouse, were refusing to cooperate. Unless Beth was going for an ‘Anne Summers’ style sari with her boobs shoved up to her ears and practically bursting out…something had definitely gone wrong with the fitting of her blouse. Honestly the trials and tribulations of having big tits (not a problem I have ever had to deal with, unfortunately!).

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