By Bunty Avieson
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Extra resources for A Baby in a Backpack to Bhutan
Baby Love by Sydney nurse Robin Barker is a hefty tome and weighs more than all my clothes, but there is no way I was bringing our baffling little five-kilo bundle to one of the most germ-ridden corners of the world without it. On page 64 it says that breastmilk contains antibodies to protect babies from illness. Kathryn, three months old, just licked the label and that’s why I’m doing the same, seeking out whatever germs might be lurking there unseen. 24 THE MUNCLES During the past few weeks that we’ve been back in India, Mal and I have been vigilant about what she puts in her mouth, sterilising her four dummies in boiling water every evening and constantly wiping her hands with Dettol wipes.
One night someone dug up all the copper wiring and stole it to resell on the black market. After three agonising months, with letters in the newspapers complaining about businesses going broke, the copper has been replaced but still the telephones don’t work. It takes a series of bribes to the linesmen in each area to get the telephones ‘reconnected’. At every level of management they are breathtakingly obvious about seeking bribes to do the jobs they are paid to do. Delhi is so overcrowded and under-resourced that there is not enough electricity to go around.
I maintain this nonchalant attitude until a western doctor friend studying in Dharamsala comes for a visit one pleasant Tuesday afternoon. She tells us, over tea and biscuits in our office, that the war will start on Thursday. The way she says it, with such certainty, makes it sound like India and Pakistan have made a booking. Some friends in Dharamsala told her, she says. They have friends in the Pakistani military. It seems surreal, but she is adamant. First thing Thursday morning a cell from the Pakistan army will crawl over the border, deliberately provoking the Indian military into unleashing its nuclear bomb on Pakistan, who will send one straight back into India.