The Day I Licked a Rupee
From the time we told people that we had planned to travel in India nearly the first thing that people told us is that we would get sick – stomach or bowel trouble.
We are now in the last week of our travels and with the exception of a few occasions where the food was so delicious and bountiful that I massively overate to be comfortable, we have escaped all the fabled illnesses.
I think a big part of staving off any potential harm is to be sensible in what you eat. Basic advice is, peel it, boil it, cook it or forget it!
All food and tap water in the world contains microscopic bacteria that will potentially cause stomach problems. In our home country we have built up a tolerance to the microbes but when you visit somewhere different it is a whole new world of tiny problems waiting to upset your guts.
Since we arrived we have avoided tap water, salads and fresh fruits and no ice in any drinks. Occasionally this has been a bit embarrassing when food and drink has been offered to us in the spirit of hospitality but once we explain about our weak western stomachs we are forgiven.
We have eaten street food where there is lots of locals eating so that the food is being freshly cooked. I have favoured places to eat where you can see the cooking in process and can be confident that it has not been sitting for long.
During our short stay here we seem to be picking up a tolerance to the local bacteria which is allowing us to be adventurous in our food choices with no ill effect. The food is fantastic and I will be attempting many of the dishes at home.
During the entire trip I have been taking snap shots with my phone as part of my visual diary. We were travelling by auto-rickshaw and I pulled my phone out of my pocket to capture yet another adventurous journey. One hand was grappling with the frame of the Auto to stop me getting flung out the door and the other was trying to use the camera phone. When I pulled the phone from my pocket there was a 1 Rupee coin stuck to the cover obstructing the button – with no free hand I instinctively pulled the coin away with my teeth…..and there it was the distinct flavour of a thousand sweaty palms and a million trouser pockets.
The 1 Rupee coin, as far as I know, is the lowest denomination coin in circulation in India. It is so low that there is no Euro equivalent. I have no way of knowing how many people have touched the coin but as soon as I realised what I had done it tasted like all 1 billion people had at some stage fingered the coin in a greasy palm.
Having avoided illness for the whole trip I assumed that this would be the end of me, laid up in bed for days, liquid ejecting from both ends but to date I can report that I have had no adverse effect from what has become know as – The Day I Licked the Rupee.