Finally I was back on India’s scary roads again; it was mainly the trucks that were the problem. They are overladen and under-powered, they can’t accelerate very fast which means they try and keep their momentum by not slowing down but just swerving to miss anything in their way. The other thing that I found very exasperating was the constant sounding of horns that rang through my ears all day. I am more familiar with the horn being used in an aggressive way back home, whereas in India it is used just to alert people that you are there, even on the back of the trucks it says ‘sound your horn’.
One of these trucks hurtled passed me and threw up a cloud of dust and stones. The whole town was based around slate processing and several tiny sharp fragments of the slate had gone into my eye. I couldn’t really see anything because when I opened my good eye, it made the other one move around and scratch more so it meant I couldn’t open either eye! I was aware that India doesn’t have an ambulance service and I couldn’t get a taxi as I wouldn’t have been able to fit all my things in it. It was very scary being in a foreign country, unable to speak the language and unable to see.
Luckily three guys from a local factory saw what had happened and came out to help me. I felt quite embarrassed but after 40 minutes of not being able to see, I felt really very scared and vulnerable as I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I began to go into shock and my knees started shaking involuntarily. This was probably down to low energy as well, as I was already 29 miles into that day’s 32 miles.
One of the guys sped off on his motorbike and came back with eye drops from a chemist.
After an hour of washing the eye with bottled water, followed by buckets of water, and then submerging my whole head in water and holding my eyes open, I finally managed to open my very sore, bloodshot eye. They kindly made me a bed on a pile of slate in the factory and forced me to rest while the eye drops soothed the scratching.
Throughout my journey through this fascinating country, I was faced with many challenges but much heartfelt warmth and kindness, in fact more than I have experienced in any other country, I will save that for my next blog…