It was a lovely first two days in Leh. On the ride in, our optic nerves were pleasantly assailed by some of Creation’s most dramatic geological achievements. We had survived near-tumbles off of thousand foot cliffs, won a spirited argument with the Sikh conductor regarding the dynamics of motion involved in the cracking of bus windows (see here for more), and, upon arriving, found a cheap, friendly guesthouse that though dotted with pungent and thoroughly organized piles of cow shit also housed a pungent and thoroughly cute “downky babee”, as the proprietor called it.
On our first night there, we attended a 4th of July Party in which we managed to offend both the six Americans and two feminist Canadians present with our liberal dispensation of crass humor, and Devon concluded the evening by riling up a lout from Newcastle and was publicly thrashed about on the rooftop of a guesthouse. But at least we weren’t in Srinagar anymore.
Finally, we crossed paths again with Mike and Becky, our fellow cynical whiteys from the Mushtaq (mis)adventure. We shared a mediocre dinner at a traveler restaurant where a psychotic unseen DJ put “Waka Waka“, “That Other World Cup Song That Commodifies the Idealized Spirit of Sport”, and Taylor Swift on repeat for three hours, pausing only for a bored local youth to demonstrate his fire dancing skills to an audience of apathetic Koreans, apathetic us, and one overly-enthusiastic South African hippie. We forcefully regaled them with our highly biased, profane version of the disastrous end to our trip with Mushtaq, then pleasantly parted ways, our hearts and stomachs momentarily content.
The next morning, all manner of bowel hell broke loose. Since we’d recently dealt with a bout of Traveler’s Diarrhea in Agru, we weren’t too concerned. Perhaps the power of the Immodium popped relentlessly on the journey from Srinagar had finally subsided, and we were merely dealing with residue from our Kashmiri Wazwan-related problems. Five more trips to the bathroom and one bout of sudden, violent vomiting later, and Steve was beginning to grow slightly concerned. Though, it must be said, we were also amused by the remarkable stamina of his newfound flatulence.
Luckily, he had plenty of complementary Ciprofloxacin lying around after our visits to Dr. Knowles in Alamo, and after some quick self-diagnosing, aided by the five sentences our Lonely Planet designated to Indian-borne stomach ailments, he was throwing a Cipro down his throat and hoping for the best.
He also noted that his symptoms seemed to line up with the description of a weird parasite called “Giardia“. “Ha ha!” Devon countered, “Ha ha ha!”, he further countered, “You only get giardia from drinking mosquito-water in the forest in California!”
Well, you can probably see where this is going…
That night, Steve ran to the bathroom every forty minutes.
“No big deal. You just need more Cipro”, his internal physician recommended in the morning, and so off he urgently went to the pharmacy to purchase a week’s worth of hardcore antibiotics for $0.60. He also picked up some Lopramide, a “blocker”, for through medieval medical reasoning he rightfully theorized that he could clog up his pipes while simultaneously Drano-ing them, thus facilitating more efficient sight-seeing.
From that moment until the moment he awoke the next morning, he patronized the bathroom fourteen times. At least three of those times were spent in this toilet:
He also most certainly woke the guesthouse’s proprietors, who for the next week asked him three times a day how “ok-good” his “stomakk” “be”. And thus, while Devon was in the midst of renting a motorcycle and preparing to ride across some of the globe’s most amazing passes, he was flopping on the Sweaty Israeli Traveler-scented bed awash in nausea, gripping his bloated, turbulent stomach. He also played a lot of Tetris.
Transformed into a pinball machine of painful gas globules, his stomach was constantly moving food in both directions, maniacally rejecting anything digestible like a deranged bouncer. It also did some other things that were poorly analogized, but they weren’t interesting enough to discuss here.
After five days of this, a dash to the Local Toliet produced a half-gallon of green, slimy, sour stool that in turn produced a deep paranoia that only a meth addict could appreciate. Devon was off for the day exploring the outer reaches of Indian jurisprudence at Pangong Tso, meanwhile Steve was plotting his medical-based escape from India. Of the various plans drawn up, the one most seriously considered involved flying to the UK and using his British passport to take advantage of the subsidized intestinal surgery wards of the NHS, then inexplicably waiting tables in London for several months before flying to Southeast Asia to meet Devon. Plan B called for several months of working in the fruit fields of Marseilles while honing his French subjunctive and appreciation of chardonnay.
Clearly he wasn’t thinking, digesting, or self-medicating straight, and the decision was made to see a doctor. Just, any doctor. And the day got weird……….. (click the link, idiot).