Kashmir travel :
hilarious accounts of dysentery while traveling
"The two most memorable instances of internal upset I suffered while out and about in this marvelous, mischievous, maddening world, include one fine May day, when I was sitting on a beach in Gibraltar, after enjoying a hearty British repast which I washed down with a few pints of the Kingdom’s finest ales, the likes of which I had longed for every day of my trip to Morocco, from where I had just returned, and where I had unknowingly ingested a healthy dose of some fairly tenacious vermin, which reared up its ugly head in grand, ignominious fashion, as I was sitting unwittingly upon that nice, British-clean beach, and leaned over to fart, and uncontrollably sprayed shit all over the back of my legs. Not a pleasant experience at any time, let alone on a beach dotted with translucent-skinned holiday-makers, none of whom were in the water, because it was May, and Gibraltar might as well be sitting in the North Sea at that time of year for the chill of the water temperature. No matter, I had to bolt from the back of the beach, through the labyrinth of prone bodies, and into the liquid-nitrogen, where I stood belly-button deep and humbly cleaned off my backside, to the curiosity of the crowd, after which I clenched my butt cheeks together, and waddled like a penguin back to my hotel room in Algeciras, Spain, where I spent the next four days spontaneously evacuating on the common throne.
It was an ego-reducing experience, to be sure, but still a mere slap on the backside compared to the kick in the crotch I received a few years later, during a forty-hour ride from Delhi to Kashmir, on a ramshackle old bus, full of angry Muslim men who were continually getting badgered by the Indian army at the omnipresent check-points we had to go through due to the armed uprising in the area.
In this second instance I had been toughing out a bad case of belly-ache and rectal discomfort as we lurched our way along the serpentine mountain highway towards Srinagar, on the last leg of our epic. A young Muslim fellow had befriended myself and a few other westerners, and was interpreting conversations between us and the driver. He was a good chap, whom at one point was curious to see my passport, which I handed to him. Soon after doing so I felt a surge of labor pains shoot from my stomach to my sphincter, and I knew I was about to give birth to a gruesome mudslide, on that bathroomless bus bound for a war-torn piece of heaven. I quickly asked the young Muslim fellow to beg the driver to pull over, which the driver refused to do, because the road was narrow and winding and we would be sitting ducks for other trucks coming along if we stopped. My entreaty had drawn the interest of the entire bus, most of whom seemed delighted at the thought of watching a spindly North American kid make a mess of his trousers. I had to use every ounce of strength I could muster to hold my rectum closed and stave off the breaking dam. And it was at the height of my anguish, when, perfectly choreographed, the young Muslim fellow, leafing through my passport, came to my photo and name, which caused him to hold it aloft, and, in great astonishment and glee, loudly announce- “His name is Jack Ass! His name is Jack Ass!” Which, as you can imagine, was impossible to deny at that moment.
I had my revenge, in a way, however, as I did not fill my pants on that bus, because, and only because, we came to another check-point within a few minutes after my alias had been unfortunately divulged. What happened is that I ran off the bus as soon as we were stopped, and made it quite apparent to the Indian soldiers what I was in need of, and was quickly directed to an outhouse about twenty meters away from the bus. After cathartically purging into the open pit below, I noticed that there was neither tap nor bucket of water on hand with which to wash my backside, as per the Indian way. Luckily I had a security package of toilet paper on me, and cleaned myself up the old western way, and left the outhouse. That was when the soldier, who was standing near the bus, looked towards me, knowing there was no water in the outhouse with which to wash my hands, and he made a ‘want-to-wash-your-hands’ signal to me, rubbing his hands together and motioning towards a nearby tap, to which I nonchalantly shook my head, and, to the disbelief of the officer, and, I hope, the whole spectating bus, I marched right back onto the bus, with what he and they must have assumed were shit covered hands. Take that you scoundrels. Make an ass of me and I’ll do you one better.
I can’t imagine what the other passengers thought of me, and it didn’t matter, because the bus arrived in Srinagar soon after that, where I rented a wonderful houseboat run by a fantastic man. And the agony was over.
I sat alone later that night on the deck of that beautiful houseboat, on brilliant Lake Dal, in that mysterious land of Kashmir, soaked in wonder, and listening to the prayer songs of the old Muslim men come wafting over the water towards me from a mosque across the way. Rarely have I ever endured such a journey, and rarely have I endured such ecstasy and anguish at the experience of the unbelievable piety and sound coming upliftingly over the water to me; I was in ecstasy because I was there to hear it, and in anguish because no one was there to hear it with me. But that is life. You have to take the good with the bad or you get neither. If you want to eat, you’ve got to accept some shit."