A 55 years old guy from Auckland wrote me through couchsurfing about 3 months ago. He wanted to know about Varanasi. He said that he wanted someone to travel with him. Once he asked me if I would like to be his tour guide for all of India. I was so excited about this, and I immediately agreed with this offer. But later he said that he had lots of hosts in India, so he canceled his plan to hire me as his tour guide. We had been in touch online for the last 3 months, and finally he came to Benares on 6th.
I went to meet him at his hotel. He had brought me a ipod and a coat. He wanted to live at my place because he was interested in general Indian life. But he had already booked the hotel for two nights, so he said that he would come to my place after spending two nights in the hotel. It was Navratri time, so I took him to a tour of Varanasi. My friends and I go to see the pandals every year during night time. I took Chris also with me. We wandered the whole night, and came back home about 3 o’clock in the morning.
After spending two nights in a hotel, Chris came to my place. He wanted to go to the local church to buy old vestments, and other old stuff that have been used by churches in Varanasi. We went to the cantonment church which is only 15 years old. Chris wanted to meet the bishop, but the bishop was not in Varanasi. So we met his assistant, and his assistant said that they did not have any old stuff. He gave address of a few churches in Mumbai, Goa and south India and told Chris to go there.
Chris stayed at my place for 15 days. Actually he was planning to stay only for 10 days, but he had to stay more because he got sick. He said that he had eaten samosa somewhere on the street, and got really sick. He had diarrhea, vomiting and headache. I took him to the doctor, but it didn’t work for him. He needed extra care, so he told me to took him to a hospital. I take him to the heritage hospital. Doctors said that it was not an emergency case, and they did not want to admit him but Chris wanted to be in hospital for a few days.
Hospital charged Rs. 15000 (US $400) for their services. I had never heard of any hospital charging 15000 for diarrhea. Chris was admitted in special ward for two days. They were charging Rs. 3500 per day for the room, 600 for doctor’s visit, and a lot of other charges that even they did not know about. I have heard of the $100 hand shake in US hospital, but I did not know that there is a similar kind of system in my home town also. I was surprised at the money they charged. I asked Lane about it, and he said that it was still cheaper than western hospitals.
One thing was very interesting for me that everyone in the hospital wanted to know if Chris had health insurance or not. I asked the doctor why they wanted to know this, and he said that usually foreigners have health insurance, and if they have insurance the hospital charges them extra money. I am sure it must be an illegal activity, but it was going on openly as lots of other illegal works in India. They were not even shamed to tell me that they were doing an illegal work.
After spending two days at the hospital, Chris just wanted to come out. He said that nurses didn’t care for him, would not change the drip, don’t give him medicine and don’t give food. I talked to the doctor, but they wanted Chris to stay in hospital for at least two more days. But Chris did not want to stay there even for an hour. Chris told doctor to let him go, so finally they gave a few medicines and discharged him from the hospital. Chris was so happy to come back home. Chris went to Mumbai on the 24 th.