I feel like it was just yesterday that we were traveling through the jungles of India, in a world without toilet paper. This was a perfectly normal situation in India. In India, every toilet has a bidet, even in a filthy truck stop. No one uses toilet paper. I’m sure my boyfriend’s family back in Bangalore sees the toilet paper memes that I share on Facebook and thinks why on earth are these crazy American’s hoarding toilet paper?
In late December as we celebrated the holidays in Bangalore, Goa and all over the jungles of southern India, we had not a care in the world. Okay, maybe, how on earth will I pee in this disgusting Indian bathroom, I mean hole in the ground. Then maybe I yelled at a random monkey to get out of the car. Or maybe we sat in the back of a Jeep as an elephant charged us in the lush deserted jungle. Two months ago I thought I was in a germ-filled place where diseases, tuskers and rabid monkeys lay around every corner. What was there to do but drink some Feni, the local cashew liqueur in Goa. Then relax by the pool and go for a swim in the warm Indian Ocean. I mean I did all of these things just to forget about scary bathroom diseases. I’m a team player, right? Why not live life dangerously and eat some questionable street foods such as shawarma while were at it? Sure I’ll ride on the back of that motorbike with no helmet on a road that is practically dirt! When you are on holiday in Morjim in the Indian state of Goa you have to just go with the flow and relax. Plus, eat a lot of butter chicken, obviously.
But first, let me snuggle this feral beach dog! Using a toilet that is more or less a hole in the ground, trying not to touch anything and wishing I could just have one square of Charmin at what one in the U.S. one might think of as a filthy truck stop, was just a typical afternoon on the back roads somewhere in the southern Indian jungle.
On this trip through rural India, we went way more off the beaten path then we did on my last trip to India. Obviously, when you go on vacation and you choose to plan your vacation, not around the usual tourist traps, you are going to have a lot more stories to tell. Especially in a country like India where the plumbing is normally not very sanitary and toilet paper is not a commodity you find in public places.
Three months ago, in a world far away
These were all things the Hungry Mountaineer may have said three months ago, in a world before Coronavirus. This was a world where we still used to hug family. This was a world where I was not terrified of bringing a disease back to my ninety-year-old grandma. This was a world away from today’s pandemic and the fears that follow every America everywhere we go as we pace around inside our homes aimlessly, counting how many rolls of toilet paper we have left in our loo. So many of us, the smart ones, are self-quarantined. It’s crazy to think three months ago how life was so different as we strolled the dirt red roads of Goa, petting a random bullock and eating butter chicken like it was going out of style. Three months ago I ate so much street food, on the streets of India, without a care in the world or a back up bathroom plan and that world seems so far away now that it is March and the world is standing on its head.
In a world where we still had toilet paper. Unless you are in India
Watching the sunset on a beach in Goa India on New Year’s Eve less than three months ago feels like years ago now. Early January on the beaches of Goa and the sun crashed into the ocean and feral dogs raced around us in the surf. It was New Year’s Eve 2019 and fireworks shot up into the night sky. As we drank vodka sodas and toasted with friends and family to the year ahead, who could dream that this would be our reality just a few months later? Most travelers go to India terrified they will get sick or pick up a virus. Who knew we would travel home to the U.S. and crash land straight into a pandemic (And a national toilet paper shortage to boot)
I don’t go to the city anymore. I have not left our rural mountain town in a month at this point. Supplies from Whole Foods, Costco and Sprout’s are running low. I can’t even remember what kale salad tastes like or remember what it felt like to pay fifty dollars for three items at Whole Foods. Forty-five days ago I went to the mall, to Sephora before work and bought a new lipstick. Then I ordered a latte from the Dunkin Donuts Drive-thru. I brought donuts in for my coworkers. I joked with my boss about God knows what. As terrible as the Los Angeles traffic was, I miss going to my job, commuting to work, listening to podcasts and calling friends to break up the hours stuck in traffic. Three months ago as we holidayed our way across the world, through busy airports and sat shoulder to shoulder on crowded airplanes with strangers, who knew the world we were flying towards.
Some day coming up soon, okay maybe a month from now I will actually drive to the city to buy coconut flour. Yes, I can get coconut flour at our mountain market but it’s twenty dollars a bag, and considering I’m not working at the moment at the job that I love so very much, it looks like I can not afford the finer things in life right now, like healthy gluten-free baked goods. One day I’m going to bake chocolate chip cookies for my coworkers again. I can’t wait for someone to complain that they are gluten-free then enjoy them anyways.
The Best Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip cookies
3/4 cup organic white sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup organic unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups almond flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts
Cream the sugars and the butter. Add the vanilla and the eggs. Sift together the dry goods and slowly mix into the wet batter. Mix in the chocolate chips, and the nuts last.
bake at 375 12-14 minutes until golden brown. Making these cookies without white flour takes longer to cook them the regular cookies.￼