Like an Indian bus I am still working but the value of my components is best added up now, lest I fail the next journey. People, as I write I am under attack. Everything that is small, mean and prolific has formed an army under the guidance of the Dark Lord of Shit Happens, and has been carrying out a guerilla campaign for something like 2 weeks.
As Errol Brown once contemplated before the correct lyric materialised ‘neath bald pate: ” It started with the shits – never thought it could flow like piss”. That was nicely timed for C****tmas Eve, and being a nice bloke, and always willing to help out a microbe in need, I decided to try and drink through it. Why not, I thought – I mean I do it all the time at home. Irrelevant that at home I eat a proper diet, receive proper levels of sleep and hygiene, well, exists. Consequently, it was Boxing Day before my rear end stopped playing English Cricket and went more, say, Bangladesh.
All went well from then until the Birdman and I decided to leave just about the hardest place in India to get anywhere from at the busiest time of the year and unbelivably found that we couldn’t. The only course of action in such a situation is to get ripped off for 500 rupees for a ‘double’ berth at the back end of a bus and travel 23 hours on said bus through desert, ploughed field, open-face coal pits and the world’s only 500-mile long cattle grid, all at a constant 80mph, from Diu to Mumbai. In between bouts of weightlessness and emulation of rice grains in an excited Spaniard’s maraca I managed some 1 1/2 hours of sleep, and that was when the cavalry arrived. I should have known when I kept waking up to crush things crawling on my face that there was definitely not peace in our time.
Only in the smoggy dawn light of an Andheri street did I get a look at the one arm that I had left exposed. A constellation of some 20-plus bites ran artistically from my index finger to my elbow. The fear element of guerilla warfare was now fully at work: the enemy propaganda convincing me to forgo Malaria pills and now the 9/11 strike that everyone said I should expect but I never would admit could happen to me.
That was the 30th: again all well for a few days – no further effects from the bites apart from some scars and itchiness, and no signs of the big M, so once again the blase attitude was allowed to instal itself. Come 7th January, Pune, Maharashtra. The Big One. Fountains from both ends, day in bed, small recovery. 8th January, one virus out, one in. The worst type of cold one that makes you feel lie you can get out of bed and do stuff in a polluted shithole and then leaves you in a clammy sweat and unable to breathe. These are dark times. I can only thank providence that the fact I am not dead is only probably down to the Indian viruses organising themselves like the people do.
Did I forget Happy New Year? Until Goa, and its bat-sized mozzies, I bid you farewell….