That Rajastan is one of the poorest states of India is something I already knew before coming here, but still it was made obvious the moment I stepped off the train.
The eastern part of Rajastan consists of gigantic plains with hills raising towards the sky from the middle of nowhere. It is a dry and arid land that further off to the west turns into a desert landscape that continues well into Pakistan.
I am often surprised in what conditions humans kan live and still survive. All from the dry landscapes of California or Australia to the winter lands of Canada and Greenland. Sweden feels like an oasis compared to these areas.
Despite this, there are more than 60 million people living in Rajastan, compared to the meager 9 million that live in the areawise larger Sweden.
That is hard to grasp.
Maybe it is not so strange that these state is so poor when the drought makes it harder and harder to live here.
When I get off the train to take a rickshaw to the bus station I get to see the saddest fleet of Autorickshaws I have ever seen. The parking lot looks like a dump. At the bus station I see the same thing. The bus that takes me to Pushkar on the other side of one of the hills looks like something that was left to die but had to be reinstated because of the lack of other vehicles.
Packed with people it tries to climb the hill road upwards and over the hill. It is so slow that we get overtaken by a tractor.
I start wondering if we will actually make it and becomes a bit afraid when I hear the driver turn off the engine when we are up on the top and starts to quietly roll down the other side. How well will the brakes work on a vehicle like this in 40 degrees celcius?
We do survive however and reaches Pushkar after eleven kilometers and about half an hour (it takes about 15 minutes with a car that has an engine). I find somewhere to sleep and takes a much awaited shower. After that I go for a walk to find the market street close to the Pushkar lake, which this year is not a lake, but rather a hole in the ground with a few splashes of water in small parts of it.
Unfortunately, they have started using another bus stations than they used to since making the map, so I had to walk around quite a bit asking my way to the market before finding it. On the way there a few dogs starts to bark at me.
It happens every now and then that dogs bark at you and then runs off, so they surprised me when suddenly two dogs started running after me and trying to bite my leg. One of the dogs only touched my trousers, but the other dog actually bit me in the leg before an Indian guy standing a few metres away could run them off.
It hurt a bit but my trousers was ok and it didn’t feel like it was something serious so I kept walking. When I reached the market I met a Serbian couple that I spent a few hours with eating dinner and talking to. So only when I got home and took of my trousers I started to think about the bite again. It had already become blue from the bite and there was a small open wound with a bit of blood so it didn’t look too good. I realized quickly what this meant so I gave my saviour a call, my private doctor Uma. She recommended me to go straight to a hospital and helped me by talking in Hindi to one of the guys working in the guest house to convince him to take me to a hospital instead of waiting to the morning. The guy, named Kuku, can’t find a taxi for me, everyone is asleep, so a bit after midnight, he drives me himself to a private emergancy hospital in Ajmer.
If you get infected by Rabies, you have about 24 hours to get an injection, otherwise there is a risk that you die. Every year about 30.000 Indians die in similar conditions because of lack of treatment, usually from a bit from a dog or a monkey. I get a bit scared when I read in the Lonely Planet guide book that it’s next to impossible to find treatment in India for Rabies, but Uma calms me down by telling me this is not true, every hospital has this kind of stuff.
If Rajastan is poor, you could not see that on the hospital. The emergancy room was clinically clean in a new modern building that made Swedish hospitals seem a bit worn out. I have to wait maybe one minute before I get to explain what has happened and within fifteen minutes they have given me two shots, a blood sample and put me on dextrose. My driver goes off to pay for the visit.
When everything is done, they show me to a room where I get to spend the night under observation. The room turns out to be more of a hotel room. I have my own toilet and shower, a few couches, an extra bed for visitors, a/c and TV. The only thing I miss is toilet paper and a few wall paintings for decoration. Had there been a wi-fi connection I would have given the place five stars. As usual in hotels, I took the soap from the shower with me home.
For this deluxe package incl. Brunch, tea with cookies and a constant stream of maybe ten people checking on me, four injections, five different pills in different colours and form and the pleasure to see a bollywood version of something that looked like Ivanhoe, you have to pay about 11.000 rupees. Or €190.
Hadn’t it been for the risk of dying of rabies and the horrible about seeing Indian actors running around in Robin Hood-like clothes I would have stayed.
At four in the afternoon the day after I get discharged and I got back to Pushkar and my room.
On the hospital receipt it says “deluxe room 308” and when I left I got a nicely put together folder about the hospital and with my journal telling me what they had done and instructions about further treatment. After this I realize that the word service is not applicable to Swedish hospitals.
My problem now is that I have to find a copy of the movie to send to the insurance company to prove to them that I actually didn’t stay there voluntarily but was actually there against my will for treatment.
We’ll see if they believe me.