A Diarrhea Moment

Travelers in India are notorious for openly discussing their bowel movements. Why? Because India is a land of widespread poverty and poor sanitation. Hand-washing isn’t optional, it’s impossible. Restaurant kitchens often look like war zones. Amoebas, worms, and hostile bacteria inhabit food and water, and foreign travelers in particular are susceptible to these ubiquitous bugs. Our immune systems are wholly unprepared from such an all-out attack.


Katherine was a very open woman.

We sat at a seaside café in Goa, and over iced coffees she told me about her fears of professional rejection, how her relationship to Tai Chi had changed over the years, and her plans to write a book titled My Years In America: A Dance With Delusion.

Tears wet her eyes when she recalled her brother’s struggle with morphine addiction, and she snorted out loud when describing her first visit to the gynecologist.

I barely knew Katherine. We had just met.

Her incisor teeth were particularly sharp, wolf-like when she laughed. Her hands were large, square. Now she was recalling a young lover she met on this very beach.

Let’s see, he was… he was about nineteen, and I was… well, gee, I must have been thirty-eight!

She threw back her head and laughed, then slapped the table. I tried not to look surprised.

Oh, what a love affair that was, she continued, sighing and running a hand through her coarse blonde hair. He helped me get in touch with my femininity.  She gazed wistfully at the waves. And I helped him become more masculine.

A moment’s pause.

A light sea breeze.

And then…

A startled look on Katherine’s face. Scrambling feet. Chair scraping against dirt. She stood up so quickly, the chair almost toppled over backwards. She caught it, righted it, and wheeled on me, a wild look in her eyes.

I’m sorry, she said, spinning on her heel, moments from sprinting out the door.

I’m having a diarrhea moment!


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