Benja: Breaking wind with Confidence

Alibag Travel Blog

 › entry 19 of 22 › view all entries a rare luxury out here at times. Yes, yes, I know – this may be read by work colleagues, family and friends, so if you are easily offended, please move onto the next section and skip the next couple of paragraphs.

I guess the incompatibility of long distance cross country driving in a nation not exactly known for constipation didn't really occur to me when we all signed up, but its something we have all become acutely aware of over the last couple of weeks. Well, lets have a reality check – curry 3 times a day, 8 hours plus in the back of a tuk tuk and the fact I am yet to find a single shop selling bog roll mean that forward planning is a significant necessity.

Every menu is a gamble. Every restaurant a potential call to the white telephone (or worse still, an emergency roadside wombat). The winners receive an excellent (and the food out here truly is) meal. The losers receive stomach cramps, bowel loosening and a rapid visit to some of India's worst toilets.

And then there's the tactical imodium decision. Do you accept the resulting stomach cramps but a 50% reduction in the likelihood of an emergency roadside wombat? Or do you trust in your body not to let you down whilst at a truck stop toilet which has already been decorated wall to wall by an amateur artist in a subtle shade of brown.

I think the big decision really lies in the minefield that they call a menu. There are 4 basic types of curry here; Vegetarian (but you probably won't recognise many of the ingredients), Fish (it once had fins), Chicken (it once had wings) and Mutton (it once had legs).

Now Vegetarian is the safe option, but in a heterosexual environment it is considered a bit “girlie”. Like playing rugby with shoulder pads. Or a grown man going to a tanning salon. There's something just not quite right about it.

Mutton is next on the list. Tends to be slightly safer than chicken, but you do receive parts of the animal that only complete philistines (such as the French) would eat under normal circumstances. You can even add to the fun with a game of “guess the animal”. Goat? Sheep? Ox? Who knows....

Then Chicken. Its always difficult to tell with “Chicken”. A bit more of a gamble. Like betting on the favourite horse, but putting a few quid on the rank outsider with the gamy leg just to live a little dangerously. The meat here is less like the nice squares of tender bird you get back home, its a lot more “on the bone”. If you were to imagine the resulting mean portions if a drunk man was to carve a chicken with a chainsaw, you wouldn't be far off.

Which brings us onto fish. Being a non-fish eater I can't talk from experience here, but I am told by the guys that the tiger prawns are fantastic, and the fish very fresh indeed, however a prawn curry back in the UK can be a gamble at times, so in India it's like sending an unaccompanied 8 year old to a Gary Glitter concert.

The thing about Delhi Belly is that it's the favourite topic of conversation here. Everybody is discussing quantity, consistency and frequency. Everyone has been hit at some point, with the exception of Shareen who can put her success down to either her anti-biotic anti-malarials or the fact she's drunk more booze than a bar full of sailors, killing any possible pathogens.

Matt has been suffering a bit more, and Torbie is convinced he needs to see a very specialist doctor when he gets home because he he is continual risk of explosion. This may be partly explained by the fact that while most people peruse the menu based on how they are feeling, and what looks most fresh, Matt has been eating anything he can out here, and his default choice appears to be a prawn vindaloo, whether he's sick or not.

Torbie himself has been raging a personal and very private “battle of the bunghole” with his insides all trip. Currently he claims a stalemate in the war, but I suspect there will only be one winner in the end. And it won't be the man they call “Danger”.

Brad and I have both been in a similar camp. That of fairly continuous issues, but no major nights off the booze which is obviously the main priority. Every day tends to bring a new surprise for us both. And never really a good one either. I've had just the one emergency roadside wombat, but with Brad loitering close with a video camera and not much sympathy, that was enough for me. Brad had a nasty moment when after an ill advised breaking of wind, he did have to head to the loo to check it was 100% gaseous.

Fran was hit hardest so far yesterday with the full works on the last day – probably the day you least want it. Good on her though, whilst being dressed in her Sari in the evening she was still throwing up, but she made it out to the last dinner. Trooper.

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