I guess I’d been pretty lucky up to this point -- no major food- or water-related illnesses. That all changed with an unlucky thali lunch in Shimla. I believe it was most likely food poisoning, rather than a microscopic bug. Whichever, it left me nauseous for most of the previous evening -- but it wasn’t anything three vigorous session of vomiting couldn’t cure. It’s a horrific sensation: your mouth filling up so quickly that liquid starts leaking out of your nose. I’m not sure what part of the thali did it, but I’m going to guess the raita. Sadly, the urge to vomit punctuated my last evening with Andrew, Heather, and Kim. The continuous vertical motion of the taxi ride back to the hotel didn’t help either.
I slept in for most of the morning and finally rose at 10 to have a bland breakfast of toast and tea. I’d pretty much recovered by then. I met a Brooklynite named John, also a writer. What is it with India and foreign tourist writers? I gave him my copy of Joan Didion’s Play It As It Lays, as he writes freelance about film.
I slept for a short while on the road down, fighting off mild queasiness. Smoke from a forest fire rose in a ribbon from the hills. For some reason, some farmers favor slash-and-burn field management -- not a very efficient method, if I recall correctly. Whole plots of ground were alight, charred. At a stop light, right outside of Delhi, a man sold little IV bags of water. Squeeze into your mouth, discard, and hope it burns as easily as everything else. This is a country of smoke and plastic.