Testing the Water

Delhi – India, Circa 2003

Water bottles and glasses were placed the length of the table. We must have been a group of 20 or 30. A party of groggy Brits just landed in Delhi for a wedding. We were having a welcome meal with a few of the Delhi Rellies before the formal celebrations began.

I reached for the closest bottle and gently, discreetly tested its seal. It was intact. Then, just to be sure, I gripped harder and turned the cap listening closely for the tiny plastic clicks and snaps of the seal breaking.

My glass was newly washed with tell tale water drops inside. Certain that nobody was paying me any heed I poured an inch of water into my glass. Looking about me I drew the glass closer and carefully brought it under cover of the tablecloth.

I glanced about smiling as I rotated the glass below the table top, whirling that inch of water higher and higher. Conversations were picking up and the noisy clatter drowned the splashing of the water as I tipped it onto the floor.

Setting my now empty glass back on the table I made eye contact with my neighbouring diner. He looked horrified. He had watched me throw the water on the floor. I heard his thoughts. I was embarrassed and wanted to explain, but couldn’t find the words. The waiter came to take our orders. Instead I shrugged off his disdain and smiled mysteriously to him.

The following morning my dining companion was out with Delhi Belly. During the fortnight, I think I was the only visitor not to succumb to a tummy bug. Perhaps I had developed an iron constitution on my expat travels? I had certainly picked up some savvy traveller tips. If the tap water isn’t safe to drink just those few water drops can be dangerous.

Whether it was my iron constitution or seasoned traveller experience, the night I smugly retold this travel tale to friends in Istanbul, I was violently ill. That would be called karma!

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If you can’t drink the tap water, never trust the water drops.

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