I have three seconds to get to a toilet…
It’s finally happened. Someone did tell me that no matter what you do, you will get sick in India. It’s more or less an adjustment to the abundance of red chilli powder. Kilos are lost over the course of days. Jess overcomes her malaria scare and joins me by the toilet. Any chance of sightseeing or adventure is thwarted by the need to have a toilet and privacy. Even walking out into the street for breakfast results in hunched over agony, unable to continue, about to burst. We take turns. We buy more toilet paper. We listen to hours of music through noise-cancelling headphones, a fumbling panic to put them on before the other goes about their business.
The sun setting somewhere over Jaipur tells everyone to leave their seats and enter their horizontal berths above. I do so gladly, excited by the prospect of sleep. Unfortunately the back of the bus also means copping the brunt of any potholes, which is likely on a sixteen-hour journey from Pushkar to Rishikesh. I underestimate the extent and depth of them. Each time a wheel enters the earth I’m sent flying. A thick plume of dust releases from the thin mattress when I land. Poor Jess and her small frame go with every corrugation. I’m there to catch her elbows in my ribs.
The bus stops every few hours for toilet breaks. Women wait in line at holes in the ground or simply hike up their saris in the field. Men stand like incense in sand pissing in the wind. I get up to stretch my legs. I don’t feel so good.