I had felt ill all day, sore throat, headache, malaise – I was convinced it was the air conditioning from the cinema the previous night. Charlie and Abi both felt fine.
At dinner that evening Charlie decided to order Chicken A la Kiev, quite different to what I’m sure he expected he ate most of it nonetheless. He hadn’t even finished it by the time he said he felt dodgy and was racing to get to the toilet on time. I wasn’t convinced because I was eating chicken Tikka and so just assumed he had a dodgy stomach from something previous which is actually fairly common in India.
Our train was at 2357 that night and would take us 12 hours West through the night to Jaisalmer which is probably as close to the border of Pakistan as most would like to get. Knowing the train was late and could be delayed I put the kids to bed at about 7.30pm with the intention of waking them around 11pm.
I heard whimpers from Charlie around 10pm and asked what was up. He could barely speak and was running a temperature of 40.3 degrees. I gave him some paracetamol and took him onto the balcony to cool down. The problem was it was 34 degrees outside and so even after wetting his skin he still wouldn’t cool down , though by now he was shivering and complaining he was freezing. He said he felt dizzy and had a headache so bad he could barely open his eyes. I did all the checks I could and had Bekkie phone NHS Direct in the UK.
The problem I had was our train, there wouldn’t be another train for days and missing it had to be a last resort. At the same time I didn’t want to get the train, Charlie take a turn for the worse and then be on a train somewhere in rural India and needing a doctor urgently.
The NHS could only give sketchy information but advised Charlie be given 250mg Paracetamol with 200mg of Ibuprofen. I had no Ibuprofen. I have no idea why, I must have misplaced it. Lisa went up to the roof top restaurant and started asking travellers if any of them had some Ibuprofen. By this point the manager had come to the room – Mr Singh. He had brought some from home but they were not Ibuprofen like in the UK, more like a substitute brand. We jumped in his car and sped to a 24hr pharmacy, I was conscious of time and by now it was about 11pm. I gave Charlie some Ibuprofen and we set off to the train station.
Now my kids mess about, they push the boundaries constantly and will manipulate any situation to their advantage, they are just normal, average kids. Charlie could barely walk and so I spoke to them both, I told Charlie that Lisa was staying in Jaipur and we were on our own. We had to be there for each other and work together. Charlie had to try and just cope until we got to the train, I would carry his bag and Abi had to carry the day sack, she was told to simply do as she was told and help me and Charlie. Mr Singh gave us a lift to the station and as we entered Charlie threw up all over. I supported him to our platform and our train was delayed until 12.20am. I was so proud of both kids and I told them both. I had not had a single problem and we had really come together as a family.

When we got on the train the fun started.
We were in AC3 which is essentially air conditioned with 3 beds at either side of one of the many open compartments within the carriage. Our beds were lower/middle/top on one side. As we were getting sorted half the Indian army boarded the train with a huge metal box. They were obviously in the beds opposite us, and so this box just had to go right between the beds meaning we had no room. I asked where they were going to and obviously they were going all the way to Jaisalmer. Thankfully the lights were out in no time. I had barely slept and hour and I was checking on Charlie who was burning up, I couldn’t find the light switch and so took about a month getting my bag from behind the silver box and getting the first aid kit out. I grabbed the paracetamol and went to the toilet. The toilets on Indian trains are just holes and they are disgusting. So of course when I opened the door I sliced my thumb open on the lock. So it was back to the mission of getting my first aid kit out and trying to clean up my thumb. I gave Charlie his paracetamol and he threw up, I was there with my torch making sure the tablet hadn’t come back up.
As I lay down to go to sleep I hear this tap – tap – tap – tap, it was the handle on the silver box and I just thought to myself “nice one” I finally started to doze off and suddenly I heard the guy opposite trying his best to wake his mate up in Pakistan using snoring technique. You probably heard it back in the uk. I gave him a sly boot and it subdued slightly. I lay there thinking to myself, how such a simple straightforward train journey could have ended up such a mission. As I started to doze off, somehow putting up with the sounds I smell a fart. Not just any fart, I’m talking about a fart that has been brewed for some time, so long in fact it has fermented and gone through the stages of noxiousness. This fart stank so bad my T shirt changed colour and some of my hair fell out.
It must have knocked me clean out and as I lay dreaming I suddenly hear some loud Hindi music. Now, I don’t mind Hindi music, some of it is actually quite good. But the guy opposite had decided that 7am was the perfect time to show the rest of the train just how bad his music collection was. Simply sitting there and playing bad music was too easy and so he decided that he would raise and lower the volume like he was some kind of Nokia phone DJ and then would skip the song every ten seconds. I swear he was bopping in his bed, and I was not impressed. Of course he let this go on for about half an hour, just enough time to wake everyone one up and ensure no one would get back to sleep.
Charlie woke up just the same as he had gone to sleep, he hadn’t improved but hadn’t got worse either.
If you are reading this and wondering why I didn’t just go to a doctor, it’s because I have been to a doctor in India before, I found the surgeries to be dirty, un-regulated and the doctors to be pretty clueless. It is not uncommon for foreign doctors to administer drugs that aren’t needed and so I would only ever go if I felt it was serious enough. Not only that but I wouldn’t go to a doctor in England for a fever anyway.
Thanks to Charlie for just putting up and shutting up, Abi for being my helper, Bekkie and NHS Direct, whoever invented Paracetamol and Ibuprofen and the guy that farted and knocked me clean out for five hours last night.
As it happens I got chatting to a few of the guys – They were heading out to Jaisalmer to then take a flight out to Africa for an 8 month tour with United Nations peace keeping. I was assured it was quite prestigious since a Corporal in the Indian Army in India earns 12,000INR per month (£166) yet those on UN duty earned 60,000INR (£832) Interesting figures to say the least.

Just a dad trying to live the dream with my kids.

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