Never Say Never
We left India. I feel my body relaxing. On the plane to The Maldives I fall asleep instantly. I sleep a dreamless peaceful sleep until Mike wakes me up to look at a turquoise blue ocean below us, and the view of atolls from above. I hear the voice in the plane saying we are about to descend, the weather is a lovely 30 degrees and it’s 2:15 in the afternoon local time. I can’t believe we are here. I can’t believe my inner happiness. I’m not in India anymore.
India made me question my faith in humanity. I have never been treated so disrespectful in my life as I was in India. In the 10 years that we are together, I have never seen Mike so angry at other people. He is like the nicest guy I know and he was ready to kick some Indian ass. I have never felt so exposed as I did in India. I have never felt so guilty about not being able to help people. I have never been so cold. I have never been so hot. I have never been so let down during travelling. I have never been so bored abroad. I have never seen so much ignorance. I have never had so much shit happening that I couldn’t deal with and I have never felt more embarassed in my life as I did in India.
I’m not the kind of girl, euh woman, excuse me, that easily tells about her failures. I usually think they are mine to learn from and mine alone. I don’t want people to make fun of me or think that I’m a failure myself or just a big ass loser. I also know that there are many girls, boys, men and women out there who think exactly the same. But today I will break this habit by telling about the most embarassing thing that ever happened to me. About how I handled it and about how nobody gave a shit.
The food in India is different. They use a lot of spices and vegetables we are not used to. Hygiene in India is also very different, with cow shit all over the streets, cow piss everywhere, fruit stalls that are in the least questionable, flies are everywhere and because of low season the restaurants weren’t circulating, and it was about 45 degrees everyday for the first month. If you can do the math, you know what I’m getting at. Diarrhea. And not just the first week, but on a more regular base. We both suffered from it. Mike even got as far as being dehydrated and couldn’t go anywhere anymore. He had to rest, drink salty water and rest some more. By the end of the first month we felt a lot better, drinking enough water all the time and be careful when picking a place to eat. So it was a welcome change when our hotel in Palolem had its own restaurant where apparently every tourist in the beachtown came for lunch and dinner. The food was really good, always a lot and there was plenty of choice. So we only ate there, like almost everybody else.
On our last day in Palolem, so the day we had to pack our bags and take a bus and a train, I started being sick again. And I was sick for the rest of the week. The thing was, I just felt really bad, I had to go to the bathroom a lot, but if there was no bathroom around, I could, you know, hold it. I would try to sleep, or think about other things, and it was okay. And most of the times it was just a feeling, because I was just empty. So the whole trip to Gokarna, and from Gokarna to Mangalore and waiting for the trains, I spend this trip for most of the time in the toilet. I kept a roll of toiletpaper close by, and it was all doable. When we finished the trainride from Mangalore to Kochi, I felt better. We started to walk around in Kochi, to look for something to eat. We found a cheap restaurant where a lot of people were eating and ordered some rice. When we had paid and took our bags again, we were walking around trying to find a bus to Fort Cochin. So many little streets, so many people showing us in different directions again, when all of a sudden I felt something happen inside me. Oh no. I had to go to the toilet. Fast. Ofcourse no restaurants in sight. We saw a medical center. Closed. We passed by a lot of people and shops, but when I asked for a toilet, they just said no or did that weird head shake that they do. I asked really kindly, but no one let me go to a toilet, or told me where to find one. They just looked at me weird. I had reached a point where I was starting to cry. I couldn’t hold it any longer. And everybody kept ignoring us. Mike was walking faster than me asking around, but nobody even cared to answer. Some people just turned around and left us. And ofcourse you can guess what happened next. I, a 30 year old woman, walking around in India with a big backpack on my back and a daypack in front of me, I shat my pants.
In the middle of the streets of Kochi, I was standing. I was wearing loose fitted shorts, in light grey. And I started to cry. I was so angry, so embarassed. People were looking at me, at us, and they were still not helping me. I was wearing light grey shorts, they knew what had happened to me. Mike asked some more people to let us go to a toilet (we also asked in restaurants and homes by now) and I was just shuffling along, crying and yelling hysterically about how I hate Indians. “Fuck you all! Look at me! How did this happen!? What the fuck! Are there no toilets here?! Help me, goddammit! How can they not help me! Please help me! Fucking hypocrits! …” I probably overreacted a lot, but come on! Cut me some slack here. Even Mike, who would tell me to shut up in any other situation, just let me yell. He was trying so bad to find a toilet for me. Every step I took I felt worse. I felt exposed. I felt ashamed. Dirty. Disgusting. And I cried and I cried. I just couldn’t stop crying. And then Mike found a little restaurant, run by two young Indian guys, who let me use their toilet upstairs. I was crying and saying thank you while I went upstairs. I put down my backpack went to the toilet only to find out then that there was no toilet paper. And no, there was no tap either. I had already taken off my shorts and underpants and had clean underpants with me, but the toiletroll was in my backpack. So I got up, hoping nobody would enter, because there was no door where my backpack was, and took the toiletpaper. I went back to the toilet, sat down and cried some more. I cleaned up, put on my clean pants, put the dirty ones in a plastic bag (I would toss it in the trash later) and washed my hands over and over. I washed my tear-stained face, took a long look in the mirror, took a deep breath and relaxed. I went upstairs and thanked those boys again. We bought some drinks to go in their restaurant and continued to look for the bus.
I can not imagine how this would’ve gone anywhere else in the world, but I strongly believe it wouldn’t have got up to the point of me shitting my pants in the middle of a street. I don’t like India. I’m not gonna say I do because so many people say how beautiful it is, and how India is an experience all on its own. Well, the last part is true, but that does not mean I like it. It can be the most beautiful place in the world, if you get treated like we were treated for the past two months, you wouldn’t like yourself. If we would treat the Indians the way they treated us, it would be disgraceful. I don’t understand a thing about how their mind works. They talk about their religion, about the importance of religion, about karma, about the beautiful nature. Yet, I see them throw their thrash everywhere. I see them pull on cow’s tails and beat dogs. Throw stones at cats. I hear them talk about us because we are white. They look at me with lust and hate because of how I dress. They don’t bother to help you when you are in trouble. I do have learned how NOT to treat people. I have learned how to feel bad in India and it was a new feeling. I am in a way grateful for the new feelings I have discovered, even though they were bad feelings. They make me the person who I am today. I wish I could say it made me tougher, but it didn’t. I still cry fast and I’ m still a big scaredy cat. But I can make fun of myself and I care less about what others think of me. I am human. And I try to live my life the way I like it. And something made it impossible for us to just be ourselves in India. So we were both very relieved to get on that plane to The Maldives! A new journey awaits, a new adventure ready to start.