Some Final Thoughts
Backpacking through India is hard. It’s a place that tests you, your tolerance for crowds, for noise, for dust and heat. It tests your immunity, patience, and voice. All your senses are violated, all your fears challenged.
I started writing this midway through our time in India, and continued the post by complaining about our exhaustion and yearn for a little break from the whirlwind of traveling through such a busy and populated country. It would only take another week to realize all of it was superficial. By the end our month-long journey, I recognized the sort of spirituality I was meant to find here.
Alex got Dengue Fever.
We planned to meet our friend Mui and her colleague Maura in Delhi, so we could travel to Rishikesh together, enjoy some time in the foothills of the Himalayas and the clean river Ganges. Instead we lay confined in a Hauz Khas Village flat for 10 days, with the exceptions of my short walks out to pick up lunch and dinner, and our daily trips to the Panchsheel Park for blood tests and hour-long IV fluid therapy sessions.
For over a week I was present and living in each moment. Alex was in pain and constant fatigue, sleeping almost all day, eating very little. I watched him constantly, monitoring every move so not to miss a warning sign. He wanted to overcome the debilitating fever on his own, but one night his breathing became so labored, I was tempted to take him to the emergency room. I was scared. All the time. We were in a foreign country, and so close to our break in France. All we had to do was get there.
The following day, midway through his illness, we finally went to the hospital, and from there things gradually improved. Though there was little chance Alex could have taken a turn for the worse, which would have resulted in a blood transfusion or a hemorrhagic fever, I still prepared myself for those things to happen. Thankfully, all it took was rehydration, medication, time, and rest to heal him. His platelet count finally stabilized, then started increasing. We were cleared by the doctor just in time for our flight home. I had never felt such a profound sense of relief, or deep gratitude for strangers before - Nalini, the owner of the flat we were staying in, her assistant who was on call 24/7, the taxi drivers who safely drove us to the hospital and waited for us, the doctor who gave us her cellphone number.
Backpacking through India was hard, but I received so much in return. It taught me to appreciate all the things around me - all the little things, all the simple things, all the moments, all the people. It taught me tolerance and patience, and how to deal with things calmly and objectively. It taught me to embrace all celebrations and cycles of life and death. India taught me mindfulness.
And now, for some numbers...
Numbers from India
- Days in India: 29 days
- Our daily average cost for lodging and food per person: ₹1,000 ≈ $15.00
- Cost of a 2L water: ₹30 ≈ $0.45
- Cost of a medium coffee: ₹20 ≈ $0.30
- Cost of food stall curry and naan: ₹20 ≈ $0.30
- Cost of food stall cup of chai: ₹5 ≈ $0.08
- Cost of a clay cup lassi: ₹60 ≈ $0.95
- Total time on an airplane: 5 hours and 50 minutes
- Total time on a bus: 5 hours and 30 minutes
- Total time on a train: 24 hours and 30 minutes