Saturday, November 28, 2015

India - Getting over Delhi Belly

The antibiotics had helped me over it but Mike had a more serious case of one of India's world famous problems: diarrhoea. Every good travel book you'll find about India will have at least a chapter devoted to it, if it hasn't the book isn't any good. Delhi Belly, Ejecta-Shit, Wet-farts, The Runs or The Two Step all refer to the same problem: lack of hygiene in food preparation. What the various books and forums are less clear about is how to cure it. Prevention would be the best but in practice is unavoidable unless you are taking enough food with you to last your entire trip, do all your own cooking, bring in all your own water, do not shake hands with anyone from India (which is not only impossible but rude), don't touch anything and breath through filters... in short unless your digestive system is made from cast iron, you will get it :-)

While Mike was in bed I took some photos. This is an Indian Tata,
the company which now owns Jaguar... striking family resemblance :-)
Once you do have it, how do you get rid of it? Most pharmacies have antibiotics on the shelf. Loads of it and they are cheap. In India you don't need a doctors' prescription to get them either. Most of the time this will work, but not always. There is also the risk of not being cured by them fully and thus creating drug resistant bacteria. In theory your system should be able to heal itself. Given the immune system is up to it's task that should in theory be the best option as the next bunch of unscrupulous bacteria entering your system should then be recognised and dealth with. We take 1000 mg of vitamine C each day to help our immune system. We started doing so years ago when we picked up a flue type virus which after several months we still couldn't shift. Our GP gave us 3 different antibiotic treatments which didn't help, upon which he suggested to take 3000 mg Vit C... it took less than a week to clear! Having said that, Salmonella poisoning is not something you can train your immune system for and you thus won't become resistant to it either.

Riding around with a stomach full of bugs is not a good idea. especially not here where the roads are in a bad state. One word of advice here, do not ask anyone from India about the state of a road as they will always say it's good with a beaming smile... even when they haven't been there for years or the road resembles a bombed out war zone. The only way to help your body is to give it rest and thus allow it to use all its energy to heal itself. It's also a good idea not to eat anything for a couple of days. Most likely your bloated stomach will not be able to eat anything anyway, but do make sure yu drink plenty of water!

Another thing we noticed is that the truck drivers here are young.
I guess their life expectancy isn't high and the ones that do survive
end up with serious back problems before they are old
Once recovered a little, spicy foods are not recommended... which is nice when you're in India, a country where everything is spicy. Grated apples, left for a while to turn slightly brown are considered good too as are mangos. We had good results with mango juice. Water of course only from sealed bottles. Quite a few petrol stations offered us drinking water from a jug, a jug which as we found later was filled up from the tap and showed greyish water... We personally decided not to try anything with chicken anymore and stick strictly to vegetarian. 

The guys from the Aditya Home Stay were absolutely great! Their hospitality and friendliness even went as far as washing our bikes... We didn't ask them to! They did it with a big beaming smile...!
We took a couple of days rest in a home stay. The Aditya Home Stay near Shimla. Away from India's traffic madness, we found this oases of tranquility was just what we needed. The bikes were parked behind a secure fence (after some persuasion) as previous experiences had found people peeling stickers from the bikes, sitting on them and almost pushing them over. When Mike had recovered we also met up with Emiel, Claire, Vince and Karen for the first time. We were going through Myanmar at the same date but ended up going through India together too!

Getting over India's diarrhoea simply takes time and rest. You may wonder why we have not mentioned where we picked the salmonella up, at which restaurant, and share that information. To be honest we know exactly where it happened and had planned on giving the name. Talking to the owner of a hotel we stayed at along the way made me change my mind. He said that the salmonella poisoning could have happened at the restaurant, but more likely at one of the suppliers to the restaurant. He might have just had one bad delivery, which happened to have been delivered to the restaurant we ate at. It would be very difficult to know for sure. Chicken is a well known source of salmonella and other sorts of food poisoning. We therefore limited ourselves to vegetarian from then on. Limited is to be honest a bad choice of words as vegetarian food in India is not only very good but also comes with plenty of choice! We haven't had a problem since and we also didn't take part in the inhumane way chickens are being treated (which is true not only in India but all over the world). The other thing we like to mention is that everyone we met was very supportive. At times like this India in general is very social and caring. The places we stayed at while Mike was not feeling well offered help with food for a sensitive stomach and all sorts of advice on how to get over it quickly. The good people from Aditya Home Stay made a rice type of desert for us which not only did wonders for the stomach but also tasted very good!