I awoke on the train around 7 AM, (seven hours to go!) feeling like shit, dryer than the dust that the fans whipped around. Read more of my book on India (eighty pages on India and Pakisatan? Come on, Luce). Buying Chai from a vendor calling out “Chai, chai chai” in the reediest most haggard voice you can imagine. Watching legless men drag themselves from berth to berth, sweeping under the bunks and begging for rupees. Watching Natacha play cards with students on their way to Delhi—and win.
We exited the Delhi train station just before noon. Walked straight to the Paranganj, and found a hotel—I don’t know how we chose the Lords Hotel, but we did. They gave us a room on the fourth floor. So we had to climb up all the stairs with our stuff. I flopped onto the bed, feeling genuinely sick. Natacha turned on the “air cooler,” which a many of you know, is a big fan with a pan of water in it that is supposed to blow “cooled” air into the room. It didn’t. I fell asleep, fading in and out for a couple hours while Natacha made plans to change our flight to Varkala. We were supposed to fly out the next day to meet her friend Dani down there, but with me sick, that was no longer an option.
After a while it was clear that the air cooler wasn’t doing shit, so Natacha had us moved to the one room they had left with air conditioning, a windowless cell on the first floor. I hadn’t gotten any better, ans so Natacha got some food for herself and got some more water and bananas for me.
I laid in bed for the rest of the day, listening endlessly to my Comedy Death Ray MP3’s and trying to ingest water and bananas. When Natacha went out to dinner, I opened up the cookies I bought at the Jaipur train station and ate those. Not the smartest thing to do, but I wanted to treat myself to some because I felt so miserable.
Nighttime hit, and despite sleeping all day I suspected sleeping all night was not going to be a problem. I took my malaria pill, concerned about having missed a day, went straight to sleep.
That’s when everything went to shit. Sort of literally.
I won’t draw you a picture—and DEFINITELY not a color one. Suffice to say that I woke up around 11 PM with intense, stabbing stomach pain. I passed out in the bathroom and hit my head on the wall, cutting my forehead.
The part I wasn’t conscious for was this: Natacha couldn’t open the door because my body was blocking it. She finally pushed her way in and found me unconscious with blood running down my face. Pleasant!
She couldn’t rouse me. She yelled for help, over and over, and the only people that came by were women. One of them ran and got the men at the hotel desk, around which time Natacha managed to wake me up.
Once the guys from the hotel got to us, Natacha barked orders right and left. She told them to get a car to take us to the hospital. I was still half-conscious, and not able to get to my feet, so I crawled on hands and knees out of the room and down the hall, stopping only to cover the stairs with vomit.
I crawled through the lobby, down the hallway, and into a vehicle of some sort. I insist it was a van, but Natacha tells me that it was a fancy tuk-tuk of some sort, as vans and cars aren’t allowed in the Paranganj. Whatever, completely-in-command-of-her-facilities Natacha. Half-conscious-Ken calls bullshit.
There’s a few pertinent things I remember about that ride. I remember passing the hospital and asking why. I remember being taken instead to a “medical center” that handled westerners (and as such was probably better equipped & more hygienic than the local hospital).
I remember getting put on a gurney (or was it a wheelchair?) and placed in a room. I remember a bellowing Germanic voice complaining about something. I remember loud rock music. And I remember Natacha telling the loud Germanic voice to turn down the music, and the loud Germanic voice refusing to unless we turned off the air conditioning. I remember getting an IV, and then falling asleep.
To be continued, obviously…
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