I remember the way she looked up at me – her large almond-shaped eyes were filled with a conflicting fear of the unknown shrouded by a sense of wonder. My travels in India took me to a secluded village somewhere along the Ganges River – if I thought being in India was a culture shock, I can’t imagine what it must have been like for the villagers who have never seen a Caucasian person in their lives. They were so honored at having a visitor that they prepared a huge feast to warmly welcome my arrival. Unfortunately, in trying to be a respectful guest, I indulged – albeit with much hesitation – and got terribly sick in less than an hour after the welcome party and stayed ill for six months after my trip.
In retrospect, I definitely saw the warning signs – the Ganges River isn't exactly well-known for its clean waters. Still, what should you do when you’re faced with such a situation? Honestly, my advice is to do what you can to protect yourself. You don’t want to be disrespectful – however, experiencing a moment of awkwardness and guilt is significantly much better than risking your health.