Saturday, August 7, 2010

Post: Aug. 7

This is the first post I've been able to write for a few days as I've been bedridden with what Indians politely call "Delhi Belly". Not much fun at all. I came down with a fever on Tuesday night after spending the day in Chennai. A doctor came on Wednesday morning and gave me a bunch of antibiotics that did the trick and by Thursday morning I was back on my feet, albeit a bit wobbly. It feels as if I have walked through the fire and can now take anything India can throw at me. But maybe I shouldn't say that as this country never ceases to surprise you....

We went into Chennai on Tuesday because customs told us all at the airport that we had to register our visas within fourteen days of arriving. So on Monday afternoon we drove to Kalpakkam, a town about 30 minutes away from Tapovan, to get some passport-sized pictures taken. We also took the opportunity to buy some necessities from the amenities there, and of course I couldn't resists buying some scarves from a shop only to eager to invite us in. Got the pictures back, headed back to Tapovan to get some sleep before leaving for Chennai the next day at 7:30am. Every one of us musicians silently sighed about the departure time but they had coffee for us which made it a bit more achievable. Anyway, we travelled the two and a half hours to Chennai in crazy rush hour traffic to be told at the office that we did not have to register for six month visas, which all of us have except for one other faculty member. So we made a day of things in Chennai. We went to this weird "westernized" mall called Spencer's Plaza. It was strange to see a Guess store right beside a sari shop. There was even a very dubious-looking Subway restaurant serving a mix and Indian and North American menus. This mall was like a burren of franchised and privately owned shops. For franchises, the price is what it says it is on the tag. For the privately owned shops, you had to know who to go to for the right price. The whole place was kind of like an Indian market melded into a less-fancy looking Eaton Centre. (There was also no air conditioning, making for a much sweatier mall experience than in the west.) Afterwards we went for lunch at a Chinese Indian restaurant that was recommended to us. I ordered steak as I'd been feeling low on iron. This was a mistake! There are multiple theories about where and how I got sick but this steak seems to be the prime suspect. The majority of Indians are vegetarians and it's hard to find a good, well-prepared beef dish here. Little did I know!

Anyway, I was very well looked after here and am well on the mend. Oh, and there's been all sorts of wildlife situations happening. I found a cockroach in my toiletry bag this morning (and killed it immediately without mercy) and have seen many bigger ones flying around over the past couple days for some reason. Shudder. There have been some sightings of scorpions (gasp!) which makes frogs and spiders seem like old hat. So we all block up the cracks under our doors and check under our beds with flashlights every night. Apparently the ones around here aren't poisonous but their sting would hurt like... well, they would hurt a lot. Mostly they just go about their own business and if you don't bother them then they won't bother you (so we tell ourselves nervously). Being here in Tapovan is kind of like being in cottage country, but since it's not your own cottage country everything you see has the "unknown fear factor" to it. But Delhi Belly has made everything else pale in comparison!

More soon....


  1. Ah, the wonders of Indian bureaucracy!

    As for finding beef ANYWHERE in India (except Goa), can you spell G-O-A-T? Sorry to hear you got Delhi belly - neither Hansi nor I suffered but many others we knew did.

    Sounds like you are having a wonderful experience and getting the most out of your sojourn - we are green with envy.


  2. Hi Rob, sorry for the greening, but if it makes a difference I was pretty green for a while too :)

    Yup, had goat (unknowingly) sometime last week. I think I ate an eyeball. It was pretty chewy and a little rubbery. I thought it was a weird seafood/mutton dish. But it was alllll goat. :)

    Glad you're enjoying the stories!