Mind the Gutter


So I fell into a gutter in India.

Not a small one that collects rainwater. No, a real one. You know, one that is three metres wide and a lot deeper than expected. Not that I had expected anything. I mean it’s not what I normally think about: how deep may a gutter be? Or, how high the water might reach? Well, it reached to my waist. My feet were stuck in a gooey substance and I had to abandon my flip-flops that had been to oh so many countries with me. But diving for them was really not an option, although I must admit that, for a second I was considering it… Well, anyways, the loss of my shoes quickly turned out not to be my biggest problem. Getting out was the problem. It was impossible to climb out of the ditch under my own steam. The sidewalls were slippery, with nothing to cling on to and I didn’t manage to pull myself up the stone plank across the gutter (that I had obviously missed). Well great! Have I mentioned it was pitch dark, around 8 pm and I was on my own, on my way back from an internet café to meet friends for dinner (freshly showered of course)? And that Jorhat in the state of Assam, doesn’t have the best street lighting of all places? Besides, contrary to India’s reputation, it’s not crowded. At all.

So I cried for help. A young man arrived out of nowhere and his second try to pull me out was successful. He was really kind and unlike me, recognised me the next day (‘Excuse me, miss, are you feeling better today?’ versus ‘Huh, who are you?’)

On the ridiculous walk of shame through the hotel lobby, with my wet trousers and indeterminate black stuff sticking to my legs, my bare feet left a trace. I stared right ahead and avoided eye contact of any sort. I had a little nervous breakdown under the second shower that night. However, once over it and up to today, I dig in my heels and insist that the water was not too smelly and clearly this must mean it wasn’t that dirty. And no, I didn’t return to check on this fact by daylight…

S Tischhauser

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