Monday, November 27, 2006

My original plan to leave Pushkar a few days ago by train was changed quickly when I awoke with what I will politely refer to as ‘ stomach issues’ accompanied by a 39 C fever (see Sue teacher, I told you my thermometer would come in handy).
As luck would have it, my guesthouse had already rented out my room but graciously let me stay in one of their daughters rooms for the day (free of charge) while I downed antibiotics , made all too frequent trips to the toilet and prayed I wasn’t going to die. By 5pm the same day I began to feel a little better and opted to take an overnight bus to Delhi (since all the trains were now booked solid for the next 3 days). Surprisingly, my sleeper bus was ‘comfortable’ and I slept the 9 hours to Delhi. However, this was likely made possible by the overdose of drugs I took before boarding and my fever which still raged).
I arrived to Delhi at 7:00am Saturday and made my way by cycle-rickshaw through the cold quiet streets. Already, Delhi felt different to me. In the last 2 months since I was here, the summer heat has finally left, taking with it the thick, choking smog and has been replaced by cool (dare I say, breathable) air.
I checked into my guesthouse and collapsed into bed. A few hours of feverish sleep later I awoke, showered and attempted to head out to see what Delhi had to offer me this time. With only 2 days left in India I was determined not to spend them in bed. But after a brief walk down Parahganj’s Main Bazaar and a quick trip to book a train ticket to Agra for the next day (home of the infamous Taj Mahal) I returned to the comforts of western toilets and my cozy sleeping bag.
Crazy stomach bug : 1
Colleen: 0
I did also manage to call my friend Silvia and make plans to meet later that night for dinner. Around 6pm, after popping a few more tablets and a death-defying rickshaw ride through the streets of Delhi, I met Silvia in Bengali Market. Silvia is from Spain and has been studying in Delhi for the past year. Her apartment is in a beautiful neighborhood, which, had I not known I was in Delhi, might be mistaken for somewhere much more civilized. The neighborhood is full of old, houses and large trees that line the wide streets. She rents her apartment from an eccentric 92 year old woman who was the first female Indian pilot. The apartment is large (for Indian standards) and has high ceilings, hardwood floors, a separate kitchen and a very large patio off the back. I felt at home immediately.
Silvia and her neighbor, Emily ( a French student here in India studying dance) prepared a delicious dinner and we spent the next few hours eating, drinking and talking about all the fun things that girls like to talk about. It was a fantastic evening and very refreshing from the routine of eating out and holding repetitive conversations that seem to plague travelers. Even my stomach remained calm throughout the night, and my fever kept to a low level for the first time in 24 hours. I had originally planned to stay at Silvia’s place, but felt it best to spare her the agony of having to deal with me and my stomach bug.
The next morning my stomach bug reared its ugly head (or ass shall I say…pardon my language). It seems that feeding it only serves to give it more strength. So armed with more medicine I boarded my train to Agra and spent the afternoon basking in the beauty of India’s self-proclaimed Wonder of the World.
The Taj Mahal is the pinnacle symbol of love. The story is simple yet incredible. It was built by the heartbroken Emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial for his wife who died giving birth to their 14th child. It took 20,000 people 20 years to build and is encrusted with thousands of semi-precious stones. It is huge, romantic, beautiful and inspiring.
I returned to Delhi late at night on the only train I have ever taken in India that arrived on time (fittingly my last train in India).
Now I am preparing for my last day in India. This morning, my fever has gone and I am attempting to starve the ‘bug’ to death – purging myself only on hot lemon tea and the occasional coffee. There are a few sights left to see around the city and then I am scheduled to meet Emily this afternoon to sit-in on one of her Kathak dance classes. Later we will meet up with Silvia for a quick drink before I catch my flight home to Canada tonight.
I am not quite ready to say goodbye to India just yet. So that entry will have to wait until I actually leave. However, I feel ready to return to my home – Canada – it has been far too long. For everyone at home, I will see you very soon. For India - it's not quite over yet.
Love Colleen


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