I can only dance Bollywood-style for a minute before running back to my camera!
Delhi Belly is a way of life for many foreigners who call India home. Oh how quickly a droplet of tap water on the bottom of my glass can turn my tummy into a hamster wheel. Resistance is, well...futile.
Local Indians offer culinary prescriptions: yogurt and rice or the infamous kicharee. Nothing better than slurping up tasteless sludge knowing full well that it will be making its encore in a matter of minutes.
This American prefers popping massive quantities of Imodium. Three cheers for quick and temporary fixes!
With the Commonwealth Games being staged in New Delhi itself, the heart of the Delhi-belly beast, it’s no surprise that intestinal troubles are cropping up. A reported 8% of England’s 541 Athletes are suffering from gastrointestinal distress (Wall Street Journal). Are we sure that it was only used condoms that clogged those toilets in the Athlete’s village? (Daily Telegraph)
Many of the reported cases are swimmers leading some officials to question whether the swimming pool is contaminated. Though most athletes and family members at the pool have rebuffed that claim. (Wall Street Journal)
Still the specter of Delhi Belly looms. And though I’m not the best person to offer advice considering I am toilet-happy at least once a month, I figured five tips wouldn’t hurt.
*Boil, bake it, peel it or forget it. ‘Nuf said.
*Do not, I repeat, Do NOT sing in the shower unless you want tap water to snake its way toward your vibrating tonsils. Also, brush your teeth with filtered or mineral water and cover your toothbrush when not in use. I used to return home to a curiously damp toothbrush. I later learned that when my maid vigorously washed my bathroom sink the water from her rag would spray onto my toothbrush. For a weak tummy, a few drops could be disastrous.
*Graciously turn down offerings of Chai and sweets. The hospitality in India is unmatched. I am often offered a bevy of sweets and milky tea to slurp. The fact is, you never know how fresh the ingredients are so have to be wary. Turning down said offerings involves immense tact and strategy. The most common white lie I use “I’m fasting today for spiritual reasons.”
*Wash your hands repeatedly with SOAP. When you scrub make sure you clean each finger independently. I’ve noticed that soap is rarely refilled in dirty and clean public bathrooms across the country. There may be some random sliver of a soap bar...but that thing is likely to embed more germs onto your body than it rids. Try to bring your own soap with you in addition to your handy, dandy antibacterial gel.
*Finally, go where the locals go. If you must eat street food (and you better have a darn good reason) be a conscious consumer. A long line means a quick turn-around which equals fresher food. Still, it’s a good idea to take a peek below and around each side of the food cart or table. More often than not I’ve found bowls of dirty dish water or grayed rags. These are probably used to wash the cutlery used to cook and serve. If you spot this count your blessings.
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