Before I describe today I want you to know that Dianne and I just ate dinner at the hotel in Jaipur. We are both fine and expect to be good as new by tomorrow morning. It’s been a day. We would rate today about 95 out of 100 even with the problems we encountered. Here goes.
Aamir picked us up at 07:00 to depart for the day. It was very foggy and I was very glad that I did not have my heart set on a sunrise shot at the Taj. It was pointless. We drove about one hour to Fatehpur Sikri Fort built by Akbar the Great. The place is huge and all the stories about the forts, the emperors, the legal wives and the concubines seem to blend together… only the cast changes. After the tour Aamir left us and we continued on our way to Jaipur.
The next stop was the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary about 50km down the road. We were both looking forward to this as we have heard so much about the place. We pulled over at the side of the road, waited for a local naturalist, Soran Singh, to show up which he promptly did. We climbed onto a pedal powered richshaw for access to the park. The rickshaw driver, Sheroo Singh, was quite a character and spoke English pretty well. We barely pedaled into the park and Soran was off his bike and setting up his scope for us to view. In the next hour and half we saw over 16 species of birds. Soran was excited to see some of my pictures on the LCD when they were magnified. He was particularly animated when he spotted an eagle owl which is very rare. The bird was being attacked by several crows and flew off its perch only to land on the end of a dead limb to pose for me/us. Soran was very excited and allowed me to shoot several frames and then insisted that we move to put some green behind the bird rather than sky. Every naturalist we’ve been with is clearly used to working with big name bird/wildlife photographers. They look for the light and backgrounds and always seem disappointed that I am not hauling a 600mm lens around. For me, the eagle owl and the painted storks were the hit of the day.
OK, here comes the real story. Remember, please, that Dianne and I are fine. With that lead in I suspect you know that we got into a bit of trouble. We were pedaling out minding our own business and the next second we were in the middle of a swarm of bees that had been disrupted by some large owl. Dianne is quite allergic to bee stings and she was stung multiple times on her face and hands before we got her on a motorcycle to quickly vacate the area. I got stung numerous times on the face and neck but, not being allergic (knock on wood), did not immediately start worrying about a reaction.
We finally got to where Dianne had taken refuge in a small building until the bees were gone. I have to say that when you are covered by stinging bees the last thing you really want to do is hold still. By the time I got to her Di had taken two antihistamine pills. We waited until the coast was clear and headed to our car in the rickshaw. The poor naturalist and richshaw driver were doing their best to calm and encourage. Di seemed to be doing pretty well.
We headed out toward Jaipur and Kamal pulled into an area for some food and water and restrooms. When Di came out of the restroom she showed me that she was breaking out in hives and her breathing was becoming tight/labored. I grabbed Kamal and said “DOCTOR, NOW”. Kamal is a big guy and speaks limited English. He quickly recruited a local guy who knew where a clinic is. We all jumped in the car and we headed back the way we came. The clinic was, expectedly, quite busy. The local walked Dianne to the very head of the line… much to her horror. She was most upset about preempting the locals who had probably waited a time to get to the one doctor. I let let it happen because I knew that she really was in a serious situation and needed prompt attention. The Dr. took her vitals and wrote a prescription which “our local” grabbed and led us out of the room to a ward area. As Di sat on the bed we waited for something to happen. Soon, a doctor walked in with a syringe and stuck it in Di’s rear. Antihistamine again… we think. We were given 3 different types of pills and each of us was instructed to take two of them now and one tonight. We are having Shyamal’s sister-in-law, Pammie, decipher the Rx so we know what we really have. Pammie is an anesthesiologist and I’m glad she likes us.
So, the bottom line is that all is OK now thanks to a caring driver, Kamal, and very helpful local guy who got a nice tip for helping save my wife’s life and the local doctors at the village clinic we ended up in. We felt extremely vulnerable and worried about the lack of ability to talk clearly to anyone who could help. We worked it out with gestures and broken English. We never anticipated this would happen and wish it had not. Kamal is probably in line for the largest tip he has ever seen when we part with him. Oh yeah, the bill… the injection and pills came in around $6.50. Amazing.
We do hope that the locals in the clinic do not hold this incident against Americans in general. We have been very open about trying to avoid the “ugly American” thing and this came close. We are not ones to ask for priority but I’ll damn well take it when Di isn’t breathing well and we know that it can’t be better without help. So we hope there was an explanation given and that the crazy Oregonians are not black listed or reviled.
The good news is that we are in a very nice Sheraton hotel in Jaipur. You know it’s nice when the bathroom is totally Western… our first time that the shower does not have a bucket and cup for bathing (which we’ve gotten pretty good at by the way).
I’ll close by saying that we debated putting this story up at all. Our hope is that you heard the message WE ARE FINE and do not worry about what might have been. We aren’t going to.