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India: A "Refreshing" StoryStory From a STOP Team Volunteer in the Field

Story From a STOP Team Volunteer in the Field

On Sundays, if there are no acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) cases to investigate, we generally have that day off to relax and rest for the next week. However, being cooped up in a hotel room all day gets old, so I decided to go for a serious hike around Muzaffarpur (along the mid Indian-Nepal border area).

Starting at noon I walked for two hours in one direction outside of town. Realizing I was on the verge of heat exhaustion as I had stopped sweating, I decided it was time to head back which again took two hours (I drank pump water along the way).
Arriving back in town I stopped by a shop and got an ice-cold Limca (lemon-lime drink) which tasted great as I was pretty dehydrated at this point. Noticing a nearby well I decided to take a picture with my digital camera just to have a reference shot of standard water sources in India. The shop owner who was standing next to the well asked if I wanted my picture taken also so I decided what the heck, I didn't have a single picture of myself so far during my stay in India. As I stood by the well about 20 people rushed in quickly to be in the picture (other shop owners and people standing nearby). I guess they thought I was a photographer for National Geographic or something!

As one of the men rushed in at the last second to squat down on the front row he fell into the person standing to my left who fell into me (elbow to my sternum), and I then fell backwards over the low wall of the well into the water, taking another person with me. Fortunately, the well mouth was easily large enough for both of us to fall in without hitting our heads, and the water was only eight feet from the top of the well. It was shallow enough so that I could touch bottom too.

Upon surfacing and overcoming my shock I realized three things. First, the water felt incredibly great, and this accident was a sort of blessing. Second, that there were about 25-30 faces staring down at me from above, and third, something was nibbling on the back of my neck! Turns out there are fish in the well.

Within a couple of minutes we had been hauled out using bamboo poles and about seven minutes after that I was almost completely dry as it was so hot. Sadly, the man working my digital camera never did figure out how to work it and was too excited once I fell in to take a shot of me dog paddling inside (which I'm almost thankful for).

  • Page last reviewed: December 16, 2011
  • Page last updated: December 16, 2011
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