Veterans of India have assured me they didn’t get robbed or sick. They swear by garlic oil capsules, ayurvedic herbs or western antibiotic prophylaxis for the stomach, and vitamin B against insect bites. Others recalled Indian stomach bugs. My friend Grant plans to run a sweepstake on how often I get sick; another indicated he’d be “particularly interested in stories of explosive diarrhoea”.
Others confirmed, “India definitely is an assault on the senses. I loved it!!” One suggested the biggest pre-requisite is patience. A cousin compared my trip to “a really good ice cream shop. Lots of fascinating flavours to sample.” A retired Presbyterian minister warned me to ” Watch out for the dusky, sari-clad maidens and mind those holy cows!!” An Indian workmate gave me a Sanskrit travel blessing, “Shubhaste panthanha santoo”, meaning “may your journey be all good”.
Another friend said “India is a land of contrasts and chaos” – a land of paradox. It exports modern IT and ancient spiritualities, hedonistic Bollywood stars and world-renouncing – or world-seducing – gurus. They say that any claim about India is simultaneously true and false: the only valid generalisation is that one can’t generalise.
So this Saturday I’m off to see for myself! At 3:15pm I depart by Thai Airways, and in two days will be in Bangalore, India, 7.5 hours behind New Zealand – yes, one of the few countries in a half-hour time zone!
Things are busy but under control. My sister’s old bed is jumbled with mosquito net, water purification tablets, and other items for packing. I’ve endured hepatitis, polio, tetanus, typhoid jabs – much less traumatic than my childhood vaccination memories. This morning I took my first anti-malarial tablet, hoping possible side-effects of increased sunburn sensitivity and stomach upsets won’t hit me. I’m glad I’m on doxycycline, as the major alternative anti-malarial can cause depression. A friend in World Vision told me one of their workers taking at wandered the Sudanese desert in a psychotic daze till someone found him.
With his physicist’s knowledge of optics and his decades of photography, Dad helped buy my first digital camera, a Canon IXY Digital 900IS (7.1 Megapixels, 4.6-17.3mm zoom I’ll be uploading shots at http://picasaweb.google.com/djtitheridge.
If I’m not shipped back in a body bag sometime before then, I’ll see you back in Auckland, New Zealand, on 8 December.