Indian Journeys: A Local Train Journey with a Dramatic Ending

It was my last day in India.  I woke up to driving rain – the first I’d seen – a raging temperature and a sore throat.  But there was shopping to be done, packing to be done, general busyness.  I forced myself through the day, feeling worse all the time.

Chennai Station (Wikimedia Commons: PlaneMad)

I eventually made it to the station where I planned to catch a train to the airport: a local service with a quick journey time.  How was I to know that the train would fill and fill and fill until people were hanging from the doorways in true Indian Travel Documentary style?  With me crushed in the very middle of it all, feeling iller by the second.  Actually, ‘crushed’ doesn’t even begin to cover it: the only reason I didn’t fall to the floor was that it was physically impossible.

An image from Wikimedia Commons (archer10) gives the general idea…

At a certain point, I couldn’t stand it any more, and somehow forced myself and my luggage off the train, with everyone shouting behind me ‘No!  No!  Airport is two more stations!’  By then though, I was sprawled across the platform, vomiting and vomiting as the train departed without me.  A lovely man tried to help.  He brought me water which he poured over me, washing my face and making me drink.  A concerned crowd gathered, but by then I had lost all pride as I lay there, being repeatedly sick.

Two policewomen turned up, at as much at a loss as anyone else.  Finally, they made a decision.  They hauled me quite roughly, as if I were a dangerous demonstrator rather than a rather sick and weak woman onto a train – a fairly empty train, now the rush period was over – and chucked me on the floor.

At the airport station, we were joined by a rather handsome male officer who carried me, ‘Gone with the Wind’ style up the airport steps (a shame I was way too ill to appreciate it), and heaved me into a rickshaw, together with my luggage.  Our destination was the airport medical centre.  I was examined and at last a decision was made.  Hospital.  An ambulance appeared and I was dumped on a stretcher.  Bang!  The ambulance driver revelled in using his siren – who wouldn’t if it meant actually moving in the streets of Chennai?  I was at the Sri Balaji Hospital .

I remember little of the rest of the day. But the British Consulate must have been told, and someone there must have dealt with the fact that I was no longer travelling back to the UK that night.

This is the last of my ‘Indian Journey’ posts.  I’ll write more about my trip later though.  You haven’t heard about the Rainforest Retreat, Gurukula Botanical Sanctuary, French Colonial India, Couchsurfing in Thanjavur, Mamallapuram … or life in an Indian hospital….

Today’s entry for the Ragtag prompt: Sick

42 thoughts on “Indian Journeys: A Local Train Journey with a Dramatic Ending”

  1. Oh my goodness….that is my worst nightmare, being very ill abroad, now that my immune system is depleted…. the reason I don’t travel to exotic places.

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  2. Falling ill while traveling is insane. I remember a time when I’d rented an apartment for a week in the French Alps, and spent most of my time in bed with a flu. Fortunately I’d stocked the kitchen with a fair amount of food as soon as I’d arrived. I was still ill when I got back into a train to Paris, but at least I could sit. You had a decidedly worse time.

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    1. I think the worst thing was – I just wanted to go home. I’d had a wonderful experience, but by then I was running on empty, and had no inner resources left. Hence, no doubt, the illness.

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  3. Oh my god, this is my worst nightmare! Was it food poisoning, do you know? Or flu? How awful . . . I’m glad you got help and you obviously got home eventually and recovered. I’m impressed you could turn it into a good story . . .

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  4. Whew, this sounds awful. It is so terrifying to get sick when traveling. At least your are okay now. I found it really interesting to read about the decisions the people made as they worked to get you assistance.

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  5. It’s strange how illness can strip us of all dignity….I can remember a similar public dispaly of vomiting due to illness, and I just didn’t care, because all I wanted at that time was to die. At least you live to tell the tale.

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  6. What a gripping tale, can’t wait for the next episode…
    ( have you read or seen the film Lion? About an adopted Indian boy who finds his way back)

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  7. Goodness, what a tale! And a great shame that your trip ended this way. At least, eventually, you made it home, and I suppose it if had to happen it was better then than at the beginning. Great series of posts, Margaret, I’ll look forward to the next collection in due course 🙂

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  8. Oh my, oh my, oh my – what a nightmare, but also how reassuring that between strangers and the emergency folk they got you to a hospital. Never great being ill away from home, so glad you survived that unexpected experience.

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  9. It’s bad enough being crushed on a train being well! Incredible you had the presence of mind to emerge with your luggage when being so ill. And what a convoluted rescue, but at least rescued is what you was …

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