Ill in Rishikesh

by | Jun 24, 2021 | India | 0 comments

We are finally here! My Indian friend and I just raised the glasses of fruit juice to begin our dream stay in the ashram in the capital of yoga, Rishikesh in India. We had chosen 3 weeks of kundalini yoga training.

After a welcome speech at the launch of new yoga teacher classes the ashram´s guru assured us that if any of the students should become ill during the course, then without hesitation we should inform the staff at the ashram reception and someone  would gladly accompany them to the local hospital.

Why should anyone get sick? We came here to enjoy it, didn’t we? And to learn something … it occurred to me inadvertently and I immediately let go of this topic.

In the first week, everyone honestly attended lessons, which really took place from 5 am to 8 sometimes even 10pm. It all started with the second week…

In the ashram, yogis and yoginis gradually began to fall away. The number of patients increased and there were fewer and fewer yogis in the sessions.

A young yogi from Lithuania brought a thermometer to my room. Its mercury climbed to 40 degrees.

Unfortunately, a visit to the local hospital was inevitable. I was miserable, everything hurt and I was exhausted.

A car was not available in the ashram.

I didn´t want to wait, impatience is actually not a yogic virtue, we took a tuk tuk. The girl from the ashram reception, Manisha, came along with me, for which I was really grateful in my condition.

 I didn’t know that in a tuk tuk for maximum capacity of 6 people can sit 8 of us and a baby.  A young mother sat calmly on my lap and shoved her baby under my nose. It rolled on me its dark brown eyes which resembled tiny beads. Even so, I tried to turn my head away from it so that the baby wouldn’t catch anything from me.

 After about a quarter of an hour, accompanied by the terrible noise of the vehicle, we got out and paid the driver 10 rupees per person. We were in the centre of the city market, where locals buy everything from a toothbrush to motorcycle tires. It was a huge market lined with stalls of fragrant fruit, spices, and small Indian snacks.

We turned onto a side street and continued walking for about another ten minutes. The market did not decrease, on the contrary, it seemed to me that the further we moved away from the main street, the more interesting and authentic the assortment of shops and stalls would be. Normally I would have loved to take pictures of almost every cow, but inside me it was boiling, the fever didn’t go away and still my body hurt.

We finally arrived at the hospital. When I saw the incredible bustle in the dark entrance hall, the noise of the children, the full benches, the people lying on the ground, and the queues in front of every door, I got shaky. Fortunately, I was able to go to one such bench and Manisha arranged the registration for me. I got a number, so I naively thought I didn’t have to fight at the office door, as was the custom here. But I was encouraged to go to the starting position, in front of the door, and when it opens, or so I was instructed ,I should start. And so I found myself in the consulting room.

 The stay there did not last even a minute. The young, handsome doctor did not lift his eyes from his PC. “Tell!” he urged me gentlemanly to tell him why I had honoured him with my visit …. Rapidly I shot all the symptoms of my suffering on him. He really didn’t have to study for this – I made it much easier for him. To my great surprise, another kind sentence of his followed: “Blood test!” a stamp and “bye”.

I went to the lab. There was a man sitting at a small table, writing down names and calling out patients. Next to him, a helper was taking blood. He had a huge box under his feet, from which he took out sterile wrapped needles, took blood, poured it into a test tube, and stuck the used needle in front of him in a piece of styrofoam. There were at least a hundred of them already. The patients stood in a circle around the table, watching the men with interest. I hardly could stay on my feet and felt droplets of sweat all over my body. When it was finally my turn, the assistant raised an eyebrow, looked at me, and announced with his exuberant voice: “come in one hour!” “What?” I pretended to overhear. So the helper raised his voice: “Break!”

 Absolutely desperate, I staggered out of the room and told Manisha the news. Fortunately, she took it in the Indian way, completely at ease, though she had a lot of work to do in the ashram. “Come on, let’s sit by the Ganges, put your feet in it and you’ll feel better!” she reassured me and led me to a beautiful corner by the river, where only a few Indian families with children were splashing in the water. The place radiated great peace and quiet. Grandmothers and grandfathers sat on the covered steps and drank tea.

In an hour I found myself in the laboratory again. The valiant Mr. Recorder remembered me, and so in a moment his boisterous voice sounded in the room with an absolutely pure Czech accent: “Petraaa”!

 The results of the blood test came in the evening: dengue fever and typhoid. …. I had two in one, lucky me!

 After talking to John, an American yogi who went through the same thing last week, I should have taken antibiotics for typhoid, the only medicine. But the doctor just advised me to rest and if I could take a vitamin, I would be fine in three days!

Uff, I’m probably not cool enough about this! I insisted on seeing the doctor and getting an explanation.

 Next morning, Manisha arranged my transportation to the hospital, thanks to my stubborn insistence.

 I was terribly weak, losing a lot of blood, due to my unexpected period, and I was fainting. I stumbled to the front of the ashram, where a young yoga teacher was waiting for me, directing me towards his motorcycle. “I won’t be able to stay on that bike today!”

But we’d already headed out, of course without a helmet. I grabbed my driver with one hand, even though it was extremely embarrassing. The noise was unbearable, the guy only used the brakes if a cow got in the way … so all the time.

 We finally arrived at the hospital. It was even more crowded than yesterday. Even though the fans were running at full speed, the air was stifling.

And they’ve already sent us from one room to another … it was dark in front of my eyes. I’ll probably faint, I thought quickly jumping on a bench, one half sitting on other patient. I was grateful for the young man who managed everything for me and brought me medicine

“Are there any antibiotics?” I need antibiotics!” I whispered in despair. To be sure, I sent the boy to the doctor again. He returned in a while with a handful of pills assuring me, that they were antibiotics. I didn’t have the strength to get up to ask the doctor myself. I really couldn’t get back on the motorcycle, in front of the hospital I collapsed on the bench of the first tea stall.  “Coffee please” was the only sentence I could get out lying on a wooden bench. The owner of the stall disappeared. He came in 10 minutes with a bag of Nescafe and made a light brown glue out of it. But I just needed sugar, so I threw the delicacy back in one gulp and only then was able to get up and go back.

 In the ashram I checked the internet every few minutes and when finally the wifi popped up in the evening, I typed the name of the “antibiotics” in google…to find out that they gave me pills against vomiting…

 Now, 3 weeks after this experience and after taking the antibiotics that I immediately received at home from my doctor, I am good again, although still often tired.

It was not just an “ordinary disease” for me. I really had to reach deep, overcome my impatience, and humbly accept what was happening.

I learned the most from the attitude of my Indian teachers and colleagues. The “terrible” news what had happened to me was perfectly fine for them, as if I had told them I had a bit of a cold. “You’ll be fine, relax.” was their only, valuable piece of advice. “Just lie down and do NOTHING, accept what is and wait until it goes away.” I was deeply moved by their immense confidence that everything was as it should be, their humility and deep inner peace. Some people are already born as yogis.

Rishikesh, October 2019