India at night

“I want to go Home!” Reflections on my first visit to India – Part 2

Imagine the scene – after months of eager anticipation I was at last in India. Travelling the streets of Kolkata by taxi with friends amongst chaotic traffic and swerving to avoid cows, dogs, people big and small, carts and rickshaws.

The incessant noise of the honking of car horns seemed to pierce into the very depths of one’s being. Day and night. Is it possible to train one’s senses to accept this, or would it drive me insane?

The hustle and bustle of city streets

My friend, who was seated to my left, stated that she was feeling nauseous! Full of sympathy, I suggested she turned her head and hung it out of the window. It was something to do with the dust in the air outside which made her shrug off my suggestion. It didn’t take her long to realise that she had taken her anti-malarial tablet on an empty stomach, something which was not recommended. Thankfully for all of us in the Taxi, this feeling of nausea was to pass as quickly as it appeared.

Not the Ritz

We had all been travelling since 2am the previous morning and therefore it was a delight to finally enter our hotel room to see the beds neatly turned back revealing crisp, white linen sheets and complimentary chocolates on the pillows. A room with a view with air conditioning quietly humming in the background to cool off the balmy air. In our dreams. This was not the Ritz! We three ladies were to be sharing this room for our initial night and returning for three further nights following our trip to the islands the next day.

That was until the reality of this sunk in and arrangements were made by our host partner and the mission trip organiser to book us into an alternative establishment. However, we did have to sleep here this first night.

Close encounters of the toilet kind

While the reorganisation of our hotels was being made, I was examining the toilet at very close quarters. This bout of sickness continued to the extent that, as I was lying on the bed, I was only just aware of being made to drink a solution which our host had kindly bought and confidently said would help me.

My travel companions and friends were urging me to drink … and I was urging.

I wished I could have been on a flight back to the UK, but by this stage felt too exhausted to go anywhere, and getting annoyed with my friends for forcing me to drink. I too had taken my antimalarial tablet on an empty stomach and, together with dehydration and tiredness, these factors combined had caused this result.

Drifting in and out of consciousness, and at times trying to be sensible and drink as much as I could, I lay on my bed of self-pity. What was the driving force behind me being in a country I had previously never wished to visit?

The support of friends

Reflecting over the past two years, I was almost at the point of answering my own question, when sleep took over once more. In a state of semi-consciousness I became aware of a room full of people, and was convinced male voices were joining in the merry chatter amongst the sound of me being sick in a bucket beside the bed. What were men doing in my room?

The familiar female voices were joined by the voice of our Indian partner and friend as they prayed for me to be well.

It is not my intention to put you off embarking on a Mission Trip. Quite the opposite. I was so well looked after by our Indian partner and my fellow travellers that by 6:30pm I was up, dressed and walking to our partners home to enjoy an evening with his family over an authentic Indian curry. What an answer to prayer!

During the rest of our time in India we all kept fully well, knowing that our respective families, friends and church fellowships were praying for us all.

Travel advice

If you are thinking of joining us on a trip then here is some advice:

  1. It is not guaranteed that you will be able to sleep on the long flight from the UK to India, so ensure you have a good night’s sleep beforehand.
  2. Keep hydrated. Do not be shy in asking the air hostess for more than one or two bottles of the complimentary water which is offered.
  3. Be prepared for a very long queue at Immigration – possibly 2-3 hours.
  4. Always take your anti-malarial following food.

My main purpose for being in India

So, what is the answer to my first question, “What had brought me to this place?”

My main purpose in coming was to meet the children and teachers of Rupamari school whom I had the privilege in supporting and praying for over that past year. I didn’t have long to wait as this joy was to be presented to me the following day. This would mean a very early start to the day for us all.

Our suitcases were stored at our partners home. We were only to take a backpack for our mission trip to Rupamari Island and the remote villages of West Bengal.

My vomit covered clothing from the previous days experience were placed in a laundry bag in my suitcase. This is where they remained for a whole week. Festering happily. I wondered where the smell was coming from, and then remembered.

Not that I wish to bore you, but you can read yet more reflections on my first visit to India, as I have so many, in Part 3 – How God changed my heart coming soon.