Sunday, November 6, 2011

Maybe Malaria?

First things first. According to the CDC, "travelers sickness" can affect anywhere from 30%to 70% percent of travelers and 90% of cases are caused by bacterial pathogens. Poor hygiene in food preparation is the number one culprit. So basically, the dirtier the country the higher your risk. As Claire had pointed out earlier, the Chanchal Delux was not the spitting image of cleanliness, but our levels of acceptance had been adjusted while in India. Needless to say, it was probably the chicken in the briyani that did us both in, but this is all hindsight now. When your in the moment, you can only make decisions based on the information you have at the time. Granted thats the same logic that is used to justify the invasion of Iraq ex post facto, but the American military industrial complex has nothing to do with my story and I wanted to flash a little Latin... 

At the time, we had access to the Internet which we all know can be a dangerous thing. I know better than to self diagnose, but still couldn't resist the urge to learn if I was dying or not. As sane as I believe myself to be, the urge was overwhelming so we punched Malaria into WebMD and started checking off the symptoms. Chills, headache, sweating, fatigue, fever, fantastic. Thankfully, I hadn't thrown up (yet) and the symptoms are common with several other ailments, only a fool would self diagnose themselves over the Internet. Well, fools and hypochondriacs and since I'm not the latter when I threw up later my spidey senses were going crazy. I mean, who knew eating bad Indian food was going to turn me into a radioactive, wall crawling crime fighter, oh, wait... 

At this point the decision to look up Malaria on the Internet was competing with the decision to order food from the hotel for the bad idea of the weekend award. However, the horrible idea of the weekend award winner was clearly letting your wife tell the Mother In Law (MIL) that you decided to take the Malaria pills as a precaution. The doctor I visited in Berlin said that if I get a fever to just take the malaria pills as a preventative measure. Whether it turns out to be malaria or not, the medicine was an anti bacterial and better safe than sorry. This sort of information when traveling from your doctor, to you, to your wife, to the MIL to you own mother tends to lose some of the details in translation. Thus, taking precautions becomes having malaria. Letting the world think you have malaria right before you embark into the depths of India where you're not going to have the internet for a few days is a recipe for disaster. It's probably the same recipe they used for the chicken briyani.

Four days into the trip, and after another amazing foreign medical system experience, the symptoms had mostly subsided and I was beginning to feel like a human being again. The thought of checking in with the world moved to the top of the priority list (right above feeling human), and we had the driver take us to an Internet cafe. I was greeted by half frantic emails from family members telling me everything from "leave India immediately" to "can you just take a minute to let us know you're ok". The irony was not lost on us as A)  we were leaving India in three days and B) I was taking this very minute to check in. Then the hindsight kicked in, and we had to deduce the sequence of events that would illicit such a response from my family (see horrible idea of the weekend award above).

Moving on from this comedy of errors, we were facing down a 46 hour journey to Buenos Aires. As we had perviously handed out bad idea and horrible idea awards, we had no desire to create any worst idea nominees. Needless to say, we spent the remainder of our time in Kerala avoiding Indian food, the internet, or getting malaria. 

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