KOLKATA, India — A split-second after swallowing a mouthful of water in the shower, the words that flashed through my mind were almost blinding in their intensity: “Don’t drink the water.”
Maybe it was the jet-lag. Perhaps it was a brief case of temporary insanity.
Either way, it was too late.
The moment reminded me of a scene in the “Sex and the City” movie where Charlotte absentmindedly drinks the water while bathing at a Mexican seaside resort the characters visit. Never having experienced such misfortune myself, I had been south of the border enough to know what that could mean.
Bacteria, parasites or viruses — oh, my.
My original concern was avoiding the dreaded “Delhi belly” I’d heard about. That was also the reason I had decided to play it safe my first night in India, at least in my gastronomical choices, if not my unintended wanderings.
Now, I had Kolkata municipal water in my tummy. I was, suffice it to say, a little worried.
Happy to have booked a couple of nights at the lovely, charming Fairlawn Hotel, I had been almost ecstatic to have my own bath, with running water, which could be considered spacious by New York apartment standards.
Although I prided myself on having a strong stomach, I knew that status (imagined or not) would be no match for certain pathogens not unfamiliar in the developing world.
Would my trip be cut short? Would I need to use my travel insurance at the very start of my Indian excursion? Was my life in danger?
It’s true that I could’ve contacted the excellent hotel staff and either inquired about the water’s filtration system or asked about an antidote for any waterborne illnesses I might encounter in the very near future.
Instead, I decided to venture into the city streets and hope for the best.