Coming face to face with Delhi Belly by Hugo Durand

We often have the desire for change, for discovering things we’ve never tried before. It’s part of our nature as humans, a persistent curiosity that increases as we grow older, pushing us to carry out crazy things we never dared to imagine before!
Leaving your country to move to India, could be one of those incredible choices, enriching your existence! Although this fantastic new experience won’t be the easiest to adapt to at first, the difficulties you face will make this choice even more exciting and challenging.

Weather, traffic, landscapes, people, animals, street life, religion, language, and food are all aspects that will be different between your home country and India. In my opinion, one element stands out the most; ever-present in our daily life, the reason some people live for, food. I believe that it was a key factor for me before choosing a destination to live in. This is why I believe, India, with its sophisticated and diverse cuisine, was the right destination for me.

Everybody knows that Indian food is brought to life by many different kinds of spices. It is also common knowledge that street food in India, or anywhere else for that matter of fact, is not always hygienic. However, my excitement to taste this country’s delicious food was so strong that I turned deaf to the idea of a Delhi belly. I never imagined that the food of my dreams would become a nightmare of sickness and exhaustion.
Fortunately for me, I overcame Delhi belly faster than I expected— only one month of stomach aches, nightfall spew ups, and tiredness that increased daily! Don’t worry, I put on a smile and told myself every day, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

In the process of taking care of myself, I realized that the idea of “taking care” is quite different abroad, and can be a little unusual too. You will receive loads of various advice from both the locals and people from your home country for the same illness you’re struggling with. Nevertheless, who’s advice to follow? Those who understand your new environment perfectly? Or those who know how your body works? The right choice wasn’t entirely obvious.

I guessed that the internet, this magnificent source of knowledge and truth would have answers to all my questions and concerns, however, given the answers I found, I doubt the usefulness of this tool too. Indeed, when advised to take a walk to cure nausea when it’s 42 degrees outside, anyone would question the practicality of the internet! So, I decided to experiment and try advice from here and there.
Like any other place, the locals here had its own way to fight and cure stomach problems. I remember a few of them being a specific diet, which I tried to follow, with each of my meals starting with the same question, “Is this good for my stomach?”

According to my Indian friends and colleagues, eating garlic clears your stomach from all bacteria. We should also eat khichdi (a mixture of rice and different pulses) because it’s light on the stomach. I was also told to eat curd, as it is known to have good bacteria that helps calm your belly. According to others, fruits beside bananas and papayas should not be eaten. In the Northeastern part of India, they swear by fermented gooseberry juice to cure an upset stomach. I was also told to avoid oily food and stick to home-cooked meals, like rice (except at night), yellow dal, and boiled vegetables.

On the French side, however, according to my parents and my French doctor, I needed to avoid fruits, except if they cooked into compote, a European dessert. I was also told to stop eating dishes cooked in spices, to eat a lot of plain rice and to drink Coca-Cola without the fizz, to have sugar without disturbing my stomach. Nonetheless, we have numerous remedies, even back home, which is why I won’t even tell you all the various tips given to me.

However, I will tell you this, if your stomach remains upset, in spite of religiously following the home remedies your mom or friends tell you, you should see a doctor. Because it could be bacteria related, which means you will need a very special kind of treatment, only a doctor can give you, depending on your illness. If your usual medicine is Smecta or Loperamide, it won’t work after a couple of days. Trust me, see a doctor instead.

Everyone is different; our body functions differently. So even if those advice were more efficient for me than others, I would not recommend one remedy more than another, because your body will react, more or less, differently. The best way to go about this is to listen to your body and have, which might be difficult for food lovers like me; however, a motto necessary to overcome the infamous Delhi belly.