Friday, December 11, 2015

India - Doctor Jaggi

Small events can have a big impact on what you do, as proven again today. We had a lazy Sunday, enjoyed a walk through the backstreets of Agra and were wondering where to head off to tomorrow... when a small spider bite Mike had picked up 4 days ago caused the day to end in hospital...! The bite had caused a swelling just after it had happened but seemed to be on the mend. The swelling had almost gone and it wasn't painful, but suddenly started swelling again, then started bleeding and lots of pus came out of it too...

Normally pus coming out is a good sign, but this was different. It was rubbery and there was something black inside it as well. Time for a visit to the hospital we thought, where we found doctor Jaggi, who proudly displayed a sign which read he has received a 4,5 out of 5 star rating! Never knew doctors in India come with a trip-advisor rating but I guess it's not a bad idea... maybe we could have booked him on booking dot com too. The stocky built and slightly overweight man with black rimmed glasses confirmed it was indeed most likely a spider bite, from a venomous spider and needed cleaning up. Cleaning up meant cutting away the infected area's rotted flesh and stitching it back together. By the time all the rotted tissue was cut away, the hole was quite big! As the dressing needed replacing two days later, we suddenly weren't going anywhere! Doctor Jaggi was now controlling our progress...

The day after was Claire's birthday, so the morning started with singing Happy Birthday in true Australian fashion (ie well out of tune) balloons and flowers! Later that morning we walked into another scam when we asked for a hot chocolate drink at a cafe. It was a tad on the expensive side but ok, We got only one hot chocolate instead of the two I had paid for though. She showed me the receipt, which showed the hot chocolate for more than it was listed on the menu(!) and on top of that a service tax (even though it was self service) and a tourist tax... which together had doubled the price!

Having an extra day to spend, we decided to go back to the guesthouse and sort through our photos, upload them and do some work on the blog... only to find there was no power and thus no internet... We had no idea how long this was going to take, but in the end it turned out to be almost the whole day! It was, like we had seen in Lahore Pakistan, a so called scheduled power cut, only we didn't know it was scheduled... At 9.30 am the power went off and didn't come back on until 16.30...! When it did, everyone in Agra went on the net... so if you wonder why our blog is behind...!

In the evening the plan was to go to a good restaurant and celebrate Claire's birthday. The restaurant was quite expensive, even by western standards and while the food was good, really good, they once again hit us with all the bogus taxes, service fees etc, which totalled the bill again to double of what it should have been... Just in case you are wondering what a service tax is, it's basically the tip you give the waiter for doing a good job... Tips are voluntary and depending on if the service was good or not... The service had been pretty poor, to the point where meals had been forgotten to make at all(!) To ensure you will pay the waiter a tip, irrespective of him or her having done a good job or not, they now put tips on the bill and call them service charges... Sometimes it's rather high too (usually in the 10 but more regularly in the 25% region and quite often even 40%!)

Why am I writing this about the service charges and taxes? Well, our trip has been through 48-odd countries so far. Despite all the claims made to the contrary, things like this make India definitely not cheap to travel through. Or it isn't on a bike anyway. Just before we crossed the border we met a woman from Switzerland who spend on average by herself between US$ 20 to 40 a day. We thought at the time that was quite high but having been here now for a few weeks we can see what she meant. Compared to what we spend in Turkey, Georgia, Russia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, it's actually quite expensive. Even in Europe we spent less than in India and compared to neighbouring Pakistan it's quite expense as well. Of course a couple of people will feel the need to express their disgust about us being stingy... ignore them but do factor in that India might be more expensive than you will be let to believe.
We had hoped that doctor Jaggi had removed all the poison, so that we could continue east. We thus went back early, hoping for an early result as well. But doctor Jaggi wasn't there. No worries, surely there are plenty of doctors in the hospital who can have a look at it? Suddenly we got a mobile phone pushed in our hand, with doctor Jaggi at the other end. He wanted to have a look at it himself but would not be back before 12 o'clock... bugger. We decided to stay at the home stay one more day and went back after 12. Guess what happened then... doctor Jaggi referred Mike to his assistant for the wound inspection... an assistant who had been there early in the morning too. At times like this it doesn't pay to get upset as it's simply the way things are being done in India. Still the good news was that all seemed fine, although for some reason they did decide to give him extra antibiotics with the usual Indian smile of which we know by now that it can mean anything :-) When we asked why this was needed they said it was just a precaution, in case the poison had gone to his brain... But, said doctor Jaggi with the same broad smile, all was going to be fine.... right :-)