Blinded by the Taj

I was looking forward to slipping into the shadows of the Taj Mahal for some quiet contemplation when Samantha's slight diarrhea and headache slipped into high gear, becoming something completely different and very frightening.

All at once she became pale, cold, clammy and started sweating. She was nauseous and doubled over at the edge of the rose gardens to vomit as discreetly as she could--saying she was too weak to go on. George was infuriated, apparently sure that it was the drama of a hyper-sensitive fourteen-year-old. He ordered her to get up and move. He grabbed her hand and tried to get her up.

Then she began a sort of fit, swaying and staring blankly up into the air. She was cold to touch, skin white, lips blue and eyes dilated. She said she couldn't see. I know that our family members have a tendency for drama, and Samantha is at the top of the heap on this skill, but this was different. She was out of control, vulnerable. Her fear was palpable.

George and I managed to pull her up and lean her between us. Cassidy was almost in tears, sure that her sister was dying. I had similar visions, fearful of seeing my beautiful child slipping away from a strange and sudden disease in India, but I sure as hell wasn't going to say so. But why had I been so stupid as to put her in this danger?

The crowds parted as we struggled to get her out of the Taj, with George gritting his teeth and commanding Samantha to get some control. (But on the way out, he made sure we found an official to direct us to the nearest doctor or hospital--his mind surely racing through the imagined horrors as quickly as mine).

As we left the Taj, the touts came running up saying "Sick? Ill?" We weren't sure if they were using our vulnerability to close in for the kill, or really trying to help. One man tried to direct us up a side alley, presumably to a doctor. But we had a driver waiting, and by the time we got to the car Samantha was already managing a bit better. By the time we got back to the hotel, she could see and was coherent. We fed her, gave her oral rehydration salts and let her sleep for the rest of the day.

Tragedy averted. An adventure we would not recommend--and one that became the center of our visit to the magical place. Although what caused it and what cured it we were sure we would never know, but in hind sight we are pretty sure it was severe dehydration. Simple to avoid and simple to cure, but highly dangerous.

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