Tuesday, 24 January 2012

A full bladder and bed bugs

I AM FED UP. After a long process of thought and discussion, my husband and I decided to travel by the government bus to Chennai. We have had a history of bad experience with using the government transportation for commutation. I guess we made a grave mistake. This experience made me wonder why government services are always so very unreliable in every aspect (read hospital, public transport, toilets and the list goes on).

To our dismay, we found that the seats we had occupied has other inmates as well - Bed Bugs! Phew! I still have skin rashes that itch every now and then. When I googled 'bed bugs,' I was shocked to read the effects of the bite. I quote Wikipedia: skin rashes,  psychological effects, and allergic symptoms. I started imagining about every single detail that I had heard of bed bugs:  

They are very hard to get rid off.

I thought that they were long gone from India

 They multiply in hundreds . . . 

I thought, "Wikipedia is right. I am having psychological effects after the bite."

Now, bed bugs were the first problem. The second one is the unavailability of clean toilets or toilets itself. This is one place where I think, "If I was a man . . ." Why? A man can pee anywhere in this big country called India but a woman cannot do so. Hence, even when the bus stopped at two or three places, I could not empty my bladder. With the itching on one hand and a full bladder on the other, one can imagine how the travel would have been.

Now, this brings vital questions: Why does the government does not choose to take care of the resources it has? We hear of the crores of money being sanctioned for the welfare of the general public but in spite of that any government run service is appalling. I have asked questions as these many many times but I just wonder what can be done to solve this and many other issues. It is for this reason that when I imagine travelling, I always imagine travelling in Europe and other places but not India. Travelling in India would be quite a beautiful experience for the foreigner or the wealthy traveller who chooses exotic hotels and state-of-the-art transport. But for a backpack traveller like me, travelling in India is a nightmare, when I think of the toilets.



The experience has led me to swear to myself that I will never ever take a government bus when I have the option of taking any other transportation provided by private vendors.

Even as my mind cringes at the thought of that journey, my hand itches the rash given by the bed bugs. Let me itch, while at the same time, I ask you for your thoughts and suggestions on this topic.

If interested, you can read this article by Kalpana Sharma,which links lack of sanitation and school drop outs, which appeared in The Hindu on 22 Jan, 2012.

Image: Internet

46 comments:

  1. Susan, I can imagine your plight. I hate travelling by road and when I do, I make a list of good clean places along the way and stop only there because the public toilets are filthy and unhygienic, most of the times. The stops where the buses halt are so bad that I have stopped travelling by buses altogether.

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    Replies
    1. Sulekkha:

      Most Indians have been through this and I'm glad you can understand this.

      Delete
  2. Completely agree with you. I have faced some hard times like this and yes, the behaviour of the government is appalling.

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    1. Absolutely appalling. But as someone mentioned, our population is so huge that nothing can be consistently monitored.

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  3. I know what you mean Susan,I have faced such situations,and once ended up with severe UTI problems,because of the dirty toilets..I wish something is done about this sorry state of affairs.

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  4. Hello Susan.
    I've not been to India, but I come across blog after blog that highlights the plight of women in India. It's very sad & seems to be yet another example of authorities not thinking about the health & welfare of its travelers, particularly the women.

    It's a disgrace & I am sorry this has happened to you...bedbugs...utterly disgusting. Shame you can't sue the government for unsanitary conditions!

    Wishing you well, Susan.

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    1. Andy, I had always thought you were born in India. Now this is news to me!

      Thanks for your concern, dear Andy.

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  5. I've had to face journeys like this over the years, generally people think when you travel for work you get to travel in luxury but with cutting costs company cut the travel costs for its employees too. I remember many a journey where there were also either no toilets or the toilets had sawn off handles so you couldn't close them and not even hidden out of sight for privacy, the hotels too have been shocking. I feel your plight and yes it does stay with you for a bit longer than you really would want it too. Hence why I no longer travel anyway but the high way and no longer for work :)

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  6. Love your blog Susan!:)I generally don't pick the first post to read,from any blog ,for that matter!So I started with The Quoting Quotes post till here..I know ,BACKWARDS! :)

    Gee,Thats how I like to explore everything! Well,what can I say, you've consistently written ordinary things so extraordinarily that it makes laugh and laugh or smile! Enough reason for me to like your blog! I'm your follower already! :)

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    1. Overwhelmed by your words, Jen. Thanks for the follow as well as the lovely compliments. Looking forward to reading your comments :)

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  7. Yeah,SETC buses are quite horrible.Some dont even have recliners!I once undertook a 16 hr journey in one and made a vow to never again.
    I am quite scared of using public toilets in India.That article states it quite well,Our public Sanitation is a matter of nation shame.
    I read in a book that,the sad and tragic irony is that when the government constructs toilets in villages,the rural folk use it as a storehouse/attic(as the brick toilets are better than their thatched houses) and do their business in the open.

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    Replies
    1. SETC!!! Right said. I can understand rural people being hesitant to use these indoor toilets, how about city-breds who think that public toilets are to be dirtied? Pity!

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  8. It sounds like a horrible trip. One can't help but wonder why the government doesn't do a better job.

    Take care of those bites.

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    Replies
    1. Every bus trip in India is like this, dear Myrna. And even in trains, the toilets are badly maintained.

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  9. Forget Government buses, we once watched a movie in a posh expensive multiplex and were bitted by bedbugs in the seat. And you know what the worst bit about bedbugs is, not only does their bite itch like the seven hells but they sort of hop into your clothes and travel right back to your home and multiply like crazy. When I was a kid we had to get pest control done to kill off all the bedbugs infesting our home.

    I still have a pathological phobia of bedbugs to this day, the bloodsuckers!

    And why why why can't this country with its rampant GDP growth provide clean and usable sanitation facilities is what I just don't get! I mean, really, when travelling I could really pay upto twenty bucks for a clean loo, after all that's what the Indian traveller has to pay for bottled water!

    After the terrible experiences my parents have had with government transport, they opt for and encourage me to opt for a private transportation provider even if the ticket costs twice as much.

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    Replies
    1. I endorse all that you have said. Appropos this post, I have started a campaign for clean toilets in India. Take a look.

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  10. I agree with you. Travelling in India is a huge pain - only because of the infrastructure - no adequate rest points - and dirt and filth everywhere!

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  11. Susan, it's a good thing I am NOT in India because I have to tell you that if I have to pee...I'm going to pee! No toilets? Not a problem...I was raised on a farm, just point me in the direction of the nearest tree or bush. None available? Okay everyone, then just turn around and give me a blang minute!

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    Replies
    1. Thank your stars, Mary. I wish we could do something about this state of affairs.

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  12. I can imagine what you went through. Like Mary, the toilets wouldn't have been a problem for me once their is a tree or bush around....but the bed bugs?.......urghhh!!!

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  13. I think this all comes down to the fact that India is overpopulated ; that brings poverty and leaves little or no money in the hands of the government to handle the basic needs of the population.

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    Replies
    1. Right said. The population is the problem but we should have clean toilets. What say?

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  14. I have never been to India, I can't imagine traveling that way, but like Mary, I can pee almost anywhere. Besides I am getting older, when my body says pee, I will, whether I squat or not.... Great post.

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    1. You should visit India, Jan but don't travel in public transports.

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  15. Hilary:

    Hi Susan .. I can't comment on your blog unfortunately due to the comment box being embedded - I could before switch to IE (from Chrome) but no longer .. the blog freezes - yours is not the only one!

    Bed bugs are lethal .. they're affecting the western world too ..

    Loos .. are another matter for someone with a weak bladder - I just gotta go ... somehow, somewhere ..

    Cheers - hope the trip to Chennai was worth it after all that .... Hilary

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    1. The trip to Chennai was definitely worth it. Thanks for asking. I have heard tales of bed bugs but I', experiencing it for the first time. Sad and horrific.

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  16. I truly sympathize...I hope the destination made up for the suffering journey.

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    1. The destination is always the best part of the journey (atleast in this case!).

      Been a very long time, BM. Hope all is well with you.

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  17. Wow, dear Susan, did not know if I should smile or cry reading this.;) Poor you, how awful!
    Yes, fortunately traveling by bus or train in Europe is a completely different experience, but I guess it might be more expensive too.;)
    Hope those effects of your failed transportation will be gone soon.;)
    xoxo

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    Replies
    1. Even here the prices are high but not as high in Europe. I am burning with a desire to do something about this problem.

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  18. Bed bugs and a dirty loo
    what else to do except rue
    even if 100 years are through
    nothing will change, all I do is pity you.

    I agree it is an entirely unhygienic experience. I used to travel by these buses a lot during my representative days. But it sure helps to be a male ;)

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  19. I agree. People are so bent on making money and pocketing our share as well that public welfare has taken a backseat. Travelling in India, in a place you are not familiar with, is such a pain!

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    Replies
    1. Familiar or unfamiliar, the issue is the same: Lack of toilets/lack of clean toilets.

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  20. I agree with the psychological impact part. Some years ago I was locked up in a police cell and bedbugs attacked me the whole night. When I got home I burnt the clothes I had been putting on, shaved all my hair and took a hot bath several times in the next 24 hours. Everynow and then I would imagine something crawling up my skin. A few years ago, a relative introduced bedbugs into the house and I could not imagine how quickly they spread to all the wooden beds in the house. I still shudder at the thought!

    Good luck with your future trips.I once travelled with those government buses from Bhopal to Udaipur so I know what you are talking about!

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    1. Pllice cell!!! Sounds interesting, OtienoHongo. I would like to hear the details. And you are right about the psychological effects - a whole week had me groping for any movement on the bed or on me.

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  21. I experienced that, no - not the bed bugs, but the men peeing against any wall (ewwww the smell!) and the women having to wait until there was one toilet where another woman would stand outside handing out two sheets of toilet paper in Ecuador. Awful experince

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    Replies
    1. Come to India. You can see it everywhere. You will be shocked and appalled :)

      Delete
  22. First my symapthies, Susan...and then, yes, as an ordinary tax paying citizen we are absolutely neglected by the government when it comes to providing even basic necessities. if you are a politician they would even hold up a plane for you...but for you and me- its a big task to even stop a SETC bus at a halfway decent motel where you wont be infected with typhoid/cholera in the canteen and assorted UTI's in the toilets. and i can imagine the plight of a woman in such circumstances, because i remember a poster stuck onto the wall outside the Urology dept in the hospital where i work which says that holding back your urinary reflexes is the no.1 cause for bladder infections and i think how cruel it is that the same hospital has a single/solitary toilet facility situated on the 2nd floor of a different block...but thats life in india. we are to borrow from tharoor - cattle class citizens

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  23. Great conclusion in a few shorter sentences. Thanks! Way to kill pests’ mistreatment is appealing for bed bugs, but it is risky and worthless.


    bed bug bites

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  24. siryozO:

    Welcome here and thanks for the wonderful comment. Bed bugs kill the mind :)

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  25. Once, I had to come from Coimbatore to Chennai quite suddenly. I managed a train ticket until Salem. I took a govt. bus from Salem. It took sweet 12 hours to reach Chennai! To complicate the problems, it rained for sometime and the water was freely flowing inside the bus.

    I wonder why the buses stop at certain hotels. Almost no one came to eat anything, but me being very hungry went and ordered idly. I couldn't even eat half of it, I then realized why no one came to eat. I think the driver/conductor might have received some commissions for stopping at certain places. See how much corruption affects everyone, for the benefit of just 1 or 2 people!

    Destination Infinity

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