ERROL PARKER | Editor-at-large | Contact
A FREMANTLE WOMAN says her recent trip to India failed to live up to expectation after being repeatedly exposed to poverty, leprosy and general human suffering.
While admitting she’s a relatively inexperienced traveller, Rachael Cromwell described her holiday as “a living hell” and “not what the pamphlets promised”.
Ms Cromwell said she was prepared to forsake some creature comforts of her comparably idyllic lifestyle on Fremantle’s south coast but what she had to live through on the sub-continent was beyond the pale.
“It was just unacceptable,” she said.
“If the Indian tourism board represented the country properly, they’d show people shitting in the street like it’s normal and mothers wiping vaseline over their children’s eyes to make it look like they have glaucoma,”
“After saving up for almost a year, I feel really let down by the experience.”
As more than 122 million households have no toilets, and 33% lack access to latrines, over 50% of the population (638 million) defecate in the open. This is relatively higher than Bangladesh and Brazil (7%) and China (4%). Although 211 million people gained access to improved sanitation from 1990–2008, only 31% use the facilities provided.
Much the chagrin of the average traveller, diseases such as dengue fever, hepatitis, tuberculosis, malaria and pneumonia continue to plague India due to increased resistance to antibiotics.
“That was the scariest part,” says Cromwell.
“Before I left for India, I went to the doctor and asked to be vaccinated against all these terrible diseases and he told me there weren’t vaccines for most of the things you’d catch in India,”
“Why the hell to people risk getting leprosy? You can die from that?”
While most of her recollection of her time in India is overwhelmingly negative, Ms Cromwell said there were some positives to take away from it.
“Somewhere along the line, I ate something I probably shouldn’t have,” she said.
“Long story short, it completely emptied me out. It was the deepest body cleanse I’ve ever had. In only 4 days, I managed to lose 12kg,”
“Maybe I’ll dose myself up with E. Coli. this summer to get me bikini ready.’
This young woman’s tale is just one many Indian horror stories.
In 2011, a Sydney man was left traumatised and unable to work after a short four week holiday to India after he revealed that he had to live without personal space for the entire duration.
He developed a fear of using public transport after an elderly Indian man used his leg as an armrest during a train journey from Jaisalmr to Jodphur.
In addition to this, the man can no longer answer the phone because he’s scared the person on the other end might be an Indian telemarketer.
Reflecting on her experience, Cromwell could only chalk it up to one thing.
“I came to India expecting to find culture a peace in life, what I found was the place that God forgot.”