Note that rabid animals may pose a risk.
Quite why I have decided to read the health, risks and annoyances section of the Lonely Planet guide to India is unclear, given that we’ve already resigned and forked out several thousand pounds on tickets, it’s all a little too late. I should just have skipped straight to the photos of Goan beaches.
But now here, with words like encephalitis teasing me with their erotic Japanese allusions, I have to keep reading. I trip lightly over the tales of travellers diarrhoea – I don’t mind being in the 70% the LP prophesies will succumb to the tummy sucubus – I see it as a far easier solution than giving up chocolate. I am hoping that I can even return to pre-pregnancy size. Oh shhhhhhhhh you. Have you had a baby? Then you know what I’m saying. If you haven’t then just back the hell off. I’ve had dysentary. I’ve had parasites in my intestines. I can take it. I’m tempted to dig out the most unsanitary meat vendors in Mumbai and ask for steak tartare. No, I joke. I’ve promised to go vegetarian. I shall just have to brush my teeth with tap water and hope for the best.
After the diarrhoea comes a list of diseases so terrifying I have to check I’m still reading a travel guide and not a sci-fi horror novella. It goes like this – Japanese encephalitis (causes brain damage), meningitis (can kill), hepatitis (I skip this as I have had the shot), malaria, thrush, fungal infections, respiratory infections, swine flu, avian flu and there – in block letters – RABIES. I don’t care so much for me. Well ok, I do care a little, though less about the dying from diseases I can’t spell and more about the indiginity of lying comatose, sweaty and unmade up in some ramshackle hospital in the middle of nowhere. It’s vain I know. But I think I’d rather die. But I do care, absolutely and completely about exposing Lula to all that. What if she decides to pet a monkey? Or refuses to take her malaria pill? I can’t even get her to take a teaspoon of calpol when cunningly mixed in a bucket of chocolate butter icing. How will I get an anti malarial down her gullet? Maybe in the manner of giving deworming tablets to dogs. We will have to clamp her mouth shut and stroke her throat in downwards motions. Suppositories won’t work will they – given the likelihood of delhi bellyness.
I re-read the health warnings again, hoping my first alarmed speed read has made me miss vital information like ‘this last occurred in 1976 so don’t worry about it’ or ‘beer will provide adequate immunisation.’ But no the words haven’t changed. The rabies isn’t in block letters anymore though.
Honey, I say, I’m having second thoughts.
I start to think about it in more detail, analysing every sentence. The very fact they’ve included fungal infections and thrush arouses my suspicions and I nod to myself having figured it all out. They’re blatantly covering all bases. The very fact the LP has only just stopped short of including strep throat, period pains and ingrown toe nails makes it clear that they’re thinking bases, coverings and litigations by ambulance chasers (the LP didn’t tell us about the monkeys – SUE THEM!) I flick the page to see whether they’re listing things like apendicitis too. But that just takes me to the list of annoyances – corrupt policman, wandering hands, pickpockets, violent robbery. Not much different to taking the tube in London then.
So, feeling a bit better about it all, I start a list of things to pack: rehydration sachets, calpol, anti-malarials, percy pigs and a scalpel (the last three to be used in conjunction – we used to do this with pills for our dog). Then I google monkey beater hoping to find some sort of stick or whistle I can buy on ebay. The results are not what I’d expected. That’s not going to work and I’m not sure John will be that amenable anyway. But it also brings up this article ‘Monkey Man hired to scare real monkeys off train.‘
John’s off the hook.