Second, Aucklanders or people planning to visit Auckland: Go eat at Café Hanoi in Britomart. It’s awesome. Last night I ate summer rolls there and something with chargrilled pork. I was super-super-tummy-happy and it wasn’t even the Beer Lao talking.
Ok, here’s the grotty bit involving a deep discussion of my intestinal tract and its inner workings. But it’s also a description of a love affair, really.
India was fantastic, amazing, incredible and it completely broke me.
|AWESOMEST TRACTOR EVER. TAKEN ON A ROADSIDE STOP AFTER ONE OF OUR FELLOW TRAVELLERS THREW UP ON THE CAR DOOR BEFORE GETTING IT OPEN.|
I should probably start with some India love first. We got off to a very weird start because just prior to arrival in Chennai, I had to get my bra back on in a plane full of quite conservative folks for whom it was the very early morning. I was not in a good place when we got on board our 2am flight from Dubai (having miserably failed at a squat toilet in a sleep-deprived fog, wherein I peed a little on my own foot). I was desperate for some sleep following a wide-awake leg from Istanbul, so I decided that I could not possibly wear John Lewis’ horrendously tight bra. I unhooked that bad boy and managed a couple of hours rest. But unhooking is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay easier than re-hooking. It took some heavy-breathing and eventually hiding in the toilets to reassert control over the boys. But I digress. We landed in Chennai at approx. 8am, tired, ratty and already having incurred a serious amount of disapprobation for my slatternly ways.
And I was revitalised the minute we got off the plane. NZ is very, very lucky in that we are eligible to apply for visa on arrival in India. We had our first experience of Indian bureaucracy signing forms in triplicate at the airport and I enjoyed myself immensely. P got very excited very quickly because he saw two dogs humping on the side of the road the minute we left the airport. Everything was so new, different, exciting. We’ve been to SE Asia before and adored it, but this was a whole new level of excitement for us.
We maintained that surreal state of hyper-excitement and stimulation for the first two and a half weeks we were there. Puducherry (Pondicherry), Bangalore, Rajasthan, Agra, Delhi…unbelievable. We were in love with the food, the people, the scenery, everything. Driving at dusk though Tamil Nadu and seeing fortresses on weird rock formations, seeing a roadside dentist exercise his professional skills, shovelling dahl in my face: all incredible.
|NEW SET OF DENTURES ANYONE? THAT IS LITERALLY THE CURB YOU SEE THERE ON THE BOTTOM RIGHT.|
But here is the predictable part. My digestive system was mildly problematic for those first two and a half weeks. As in, there was a couple of close calls when out in Jaipur and the rest of the time I had just accepted that peeing out of my butt would be par for the course (thanks MODG for that delicious turn of phrase). P and I hit Udaipur with a vengeance, however. Touristy, but a pretty wee town on a lake with a marvellous island palace that featured in Octopussy (which was playing at about 50 bazillion restaurants around town). P and I headed up to the rooftop of a local hotel with others in order to enjoy the nighttime lights and have a meal. I sat down, and started to feel like death. DEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEATH. Sweaty, hazy, tummy grumbly. I pulled the pin and headed back to our hotel, which was probably the wisest thing I have done this side of 18. I got back and felt terrible, headachey and awful for the next 36 hours. I didn’t, however vomit: small mercies! Grateful!
|I CAN SEE WHY OCTOPUSSY WOULD WANT TO LIVE HERE BUT IT STILL MAKES ME WANT TO BIFF MY COOKIES JUST LOOKING AT IT|
P was not so lucky. He was hit with the most horrendous food poisoning at about 3am. We were basically competing for the bathroom for a while there and there are no secrets left in this marriage. There ought to be some secrets in a marriage, P and I are agreed on that and you can take our word for it. It took us a long time to get right after that (and by get right, I mean functioning and able to leave the hotel room). It tainted the last week or so we had in India a little I think as we were definitely under the weather.
We’ve now been back in NZ for two months and four-ish days and we’re still not right. Both P and I have been on serious courses of antibiotics but our bowels are not playing the game. To give you an idea of how much I’ve been affected, I willingly took drugs that rendered me completely unable to drink for 11 whole days. I’m serious about the not drinking (who hasn’t been on antibiotics or just finishing a course and thought “just one wine won’t hurt” and got shitfaced?). These were the bad boys that they give alcoholics so you can’t metabolize booze at all. In my first week at my new job, a number of people assumed I was pregnant because (a) I wasn’t drinking at a team function* and (b) I was so bloated from whatever is making me sick that I looked at least 4, 5 months along. Awesome impression when I explained I wasn’t preg, just gassy.
Anyway, we have taken worm pills (just in case), several courses of drugs, changed our diets to include good fibre etc and still the problems persist. So full circle, P has sorted us another round of no-drink drugs and I’m back on the no-booze bandwagon tonight as a result. We were supposed to start last night but got distracted catching up with a friend and ended up drinking Beer Lao and eating tasty treats instead. But we're committed to fixing this problem so we don't have to have the weekly "So. How are you? No, I mean really, how ARE you?" conversation that ends badly. Watch this space. Or not, because it’s vile.
I JUST NEEDED TO VENT, OK?! And seriously, go to India. You won't regret it, even if your colon does.
*Doesn’t that give you a wee taster of NZ’s drinking culture of which I am simultaneously ashamed and proud?! Don’t worry, I am constantly checking myself against drinking warning sign charts. Except I failed the NHS one. Oh ffffffffffffff.