I remember exactly where I was when my best friend, Tullene phoned me and told me she wanted me to accompany her to India. I was happily minding my own business outside M&S in Barnes, the quiet leafy suburb of London. Well, it was quiet until I got this phone call. I mean, I screamed in shock. India has never been on my travel map wish list.

My instant answer was no. I’d heard horror stories about the dreaded Delhi belly. And as an IBS sufferer, I didn’t quite think this was the ideal holiday destination for one who already has a weak stomach constitution. And secondly, being gay in India is illegal so that thought made me sh*t my little gay IBS pants.

But as everyone who knows me would say, I am spontaneous and like to grab life by the balls (pun intended). I gave Tullene a very big yes answer. You only live once. I should go, even at the risk of getting the shits and being arrested for being a sausage smuggler.

And I am quite partial to an Indian. And I’m not just talking about a curry.

As we boarded our Virgin Dreamliner (only the best darlings), I checked I had all my drug supplies. My friends often call me a pharmacy. I have a pill for every occasion or eventuality. I checked each one off. Paracetamol. Pepto Bismol. Immodium. Mosquito repellent. Multibionta. Dioralyte. Anti-sickness pills. Lucozade.

Our Dreamliner touched down and my stomach was turning quicker than a washing machine’s spin cycle. It was my first trip abroad where I was genuinely nervous. We stepped outside the airport doors and we breathed in the air. And soon wished we hadn’t. The air down a sewer would have been fresher.

As we waited for our taxi, a man picked up our luggage. Oh, how friendly. Helping us like this. He put them on top of the taxi for us and our driver strapped them to the roof. With a piece of rope that I could have used as dental floss. I took a deep breath (forgetting about the lack of fresh air) and prayed our luggage would make it.

Now, for anyone who’s not ventured to India. Let me give you some advice. Don’t be fooled by these lovely men who help you with your luggage. Because as I went to shut the taxi door, the fake porter grabbed the door and start demanding money. I tell you, it’s lucky I’ve built up the muscles in my wrists over the years. As it meant, I won the battle of the taxi door, managed to pull it shut and told the driver to pedal it!

Does anyone else love the taxi drive from the airport to your hotel? I love the opportunity to take in the sights. Little did we realise the driving standards and speed of India. It’s impossible to take in the sights. I’m telling you now, people swerve in and out of traffic, beeping their horns. Tullene and I held on for dear life and the only sight I managed to take in was Tullene’s armpit.

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I’d never been so happy to see a red traffic light in my life, as it meant we had a little respite from the lunacy of the roads. That was until a Hijra woman stuck her hand through the taxi window, begging for money.

Anyone who knows me and Tullene will know our habit of laughing when we get nervous or scared. Which was exactly our reaction to this predicament. Obviously, she thought we were mocking her and reached for my spiky hair which she managed to grip. Well, that sure stopped us laughing…



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About the author: Mark Woollard

Mark David Woollard graduated from Brunel University, West London in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Creative Writing and Journalism. Since then, he has written for many publications as a freelance writer. He has been ‘The Undateable Gay’ for The Gay UK magazine since 2015 where he documents his unsuccessful dating life. He wrote an opinion column for the national Student Times, discussing LGBT issues.

He also writes educational pieces for ‘Massage World’ magazine, giving advice to Reflexologists about treating certain ailments. He authored a novella in 2013 entitled ‘The Fun and Frolics of FIFI a L’Orange’, the crazy adventures of a drag queen.

And is currently working on a series of LGBT books for children and a collection of flash fiction.

Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you'd like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.