Friday 4th September
We all awoke feeling ill. I had belly ache, as did the other two, although Jane seems to be by far the worst. Pay back time for the earlier recklessness. Sugar cane juice from communal glasses is taking its revenge. But I tried to play it down. I'd felt like this lots of times, at home, nothing to do with India. I'd be OK in a couple of hours. Always was. It was just worse because of the heat. The heat is over powering. Being on the roof doesn't help.
Our roof top room, in the heat
Outside our room
We are staying on the roof of a three storey hotel (or is it four) and climbing the stairs is tiring (so much for being an athlete!). We are all so fatigued. Ben was the only one who attempted breakfast, cooking himself egg and toast. Jane definitely seems the worst. We had lost interest in the view.
View from our roof top
After breakfast, well missed breakfast, I went out to buy a book, but while in the shop I suddenly felt very ill and wanted to rush out. I settled for the first book that attracted my attention hoping for a quick purchase and to dash out. But I had not counted on India procedure. The title, author, book number and price had to be meticulously recorded (no doubt in triplicate, although I didn't see as I was concentrating on not being ill there and then). By the time the shop keeper had finished and taken my money I didn't feel so bad so I went in search of a pharmacist.
In India you can buy just about any drug over the counter, if you can afford it. I bought "Entrostrep Capsules". I didn't chose them myself. The pharmacist, at least I hoped he was, matched them to my description of the symptoms. According to the label these capsules contained Chloramphenicol and Streptomycin. This latter sounded like an antibiotic and vague ideas about needing to complete a whole course came to mind and the packaging contained dire warnings that they must only be taken under prescription following a blood test!! But what could I do?
By the time I reached the hotel Ben was about to set out for the town. He said he felt better and didn't want any medicine. Back in the room Jane and I took one capsule each. Was this wise. probably not, but we both managed to sleep for a couple of hours.
I woke feeling OK. Jane was no better. Now I start to worry she is suffering from sun stroke as well as anything else. I offer to buy her an air ticket back to Delhi. My emergency £5 notes might be just enough, but then I wont have any money when I get back to Heathrow, but this is an emergency. Anyway, she refuses and says she is OK.
Ben came back feeling very, very ill. He took some of the medicine and both he and Jane collapse into sleep. The power is off again and the fans have stopped. The heat is unbearable and making it worse. Poor Jane seems at a loss to know what to do with herself.
I am still pretending to be OK and wonder whether to go into town. This illness is a case of mind over matter and I had thought of buying some silk souvenirs as Varinassi is where much Indian silk is made. But I wasn't impressed with the town, it is at least 30 minute rickshaw ride and it is too hot. I'll go to the Janpath and shop there next Thursday before I go to the airport to return home.
I wonder why Jane and Ben are so ill. Maybe they had already been infected with something. Neither seems in any control and are writhing in agony. Ben doesn't believe in mind over matter and Jane is too whacked to try any positive thinking. This is bad. Even if they can't cure themselves they need to believe they will get better soon.
Later... not sure how long, Jane is making an effort to move around. We have just been down to the restaurant but we could only manage soup with toast and coffee and even then Jane needed to dash off in the middle of it. I feel as though I'm the only healthy one, although I wouldn't say I was fit and well. Now it is cooler I feel better but climbing the stairs is still knackering.
We have been unable to do anything all day, but what choice did we have. Ben is worse - can he really be worse than Jane was or is it a male thing?
One of the waiters brought up the manager to see us. He suggested we should move to a more comfortable room where it would be cooler. It would cost a bit more but maybe it would help. We accepted and ended the day in a cool, more comfortable room sipping orange juice.
Saturday 5th September
After taking some medicine which Jane said was for indigestion and wind I have been tripping back and forth to the bathroom. I feel as though my stomach has been pumped. Ben is still groaning a lot but looks much better.
Jane and I went for breakfast, showered and packed. Ben staggered out of bed and packed his stuff too. We had to check out at 12:00 noon so we went down to the restaurant and managed to eat a light meal. The tomato soup was awful - or was it our taste buds? We made the megre meal last a long time and only asked for the bill at 1:30. It wasn't much.
The waiters usually wait for their tips although a few have realised that they may do better by retreating a discrete distance. Ben is dead against tips. At home I don't agree with it either, they should be paid properly, but here it is customary and I think they do need the tips to make up for the low pay. And the waiters have been good to us. I leave a tip.
I leave Jane and Ben, saying I'll meet them later at the station which we could see from out first roof top room.
View towards station from roof top
Earlier the film had jammed in my camera. The film had become detatched from the spool and it wouldn't rewind. Jane had said that she would remove it when we were back in Delhi. I am worried about getting it fogged. (With Jane's skill, a black plastic canister, a lot of sticky tape and careful processing by Kodak the film was saved and none of the pictures, some of which you have seen above was lost). But no more pictures of our final day in Varinassi.
I walked to the station, repeatedly saying no to the rickshaw drivers who clearly thought my decision to walk deprived them of an income (which I suppose it did). At the station I was disappointed to find that the left luggage office would not accept rucksacks because they did not lock. I'd have to keep it with me. I walked around looking in vain for a post office. Eventually I gave up and returned to the hotel restaurant where Jane and Ben were sitting in the dark due to another power cut.
Jane looked bored (she must be feeling better), Ben was reading. Jane had finished her book and, not wanting to sit in the dark I suggested we walk to the book shop. We spent half an hour browsing a fair selection of books and chatting to the book shop owner. He was very conscientious and seemed to know all the books very well. He was a keen photographer too and interested in doing a businesses deal with Jane for postcards and book illustrations and covers. He had an Australian friend who was an author and he wanted Jane to meet him, but there wasn't time. Names and addresses were exchanged but I don't know what, if anything, ever came of it.
Back at the hotel Ben was still reading in the dark. I remembered Jane's broken sandal, toe thong this time, and suggested we take them to be mended. So out we went again.
The cobbler sat at the edge of the road with very few tools. He looked at the sandal and indicated a charge of Rs2/-. We said OK. He sewed another piece of leather onto the broken thong with an instrument that looked like a cross between a needle and a crochet hook. The resulting stitching was "double" in the sense that there was a lower and upper thread, similar to a sewing machine. He then bored into the sole, which was very tough as it had recently been mended in Kathmandu, and pushed the new thong into the slot, nailed it, cleaned the sandal and gave it back. Ten minutes maximum.
Jane was tired of the hotel so we decided to move to the railway station and pass the time until the train was due in its restaurant. It was still only the middle of the afternoon and we intended only to drink coffee, but when pressed to order food Ben tried to say he's have two poached eggs later. Two fried eggs came with the coffee! Later we did order food. Chips and coffee!
The train was over half an hour late when it pulled into the station and it was very crowded. We had difficulty getting on and finding our seats. It didn't bother me anymore. I was used to it. What did bother me was the groping. It had happened again. Who are these gropers who think our tits are free game for the mauling paws. This time it had happened while we were looking at the reservation lists for our seat numbers.
We found our bunks eventually after ploughing along the corridors mowing down people with our rucksacks.It was difficult to negotiate the crowds. We were constantly apologising to the unfortunate people we tried (and failed) to avoid bumping into. We were sharing with two New Zealanders returning home from England. The guard turfed out all the people without reservations and, maybe an hour late, the train departed for Delhi. We pulled down our bunks and slept.