• this is india toenail ripped off

This is India! (nineteen)

Welcome back to This is India! I always have funny/weird stories about India to share with friends or family when I talk to them. This is just meant to be an honest portrayal about my life in India through short anecdotes. I also share here what I’ve been up to online outside Werkenntwen.

What I was up to other than here:

  • Well, first of all I want to share this story that Colleen Brynn wrote about Huckleberry Finn. She had asked me if she could write about her time her with him in Goa since I couldn’t really bring myself to write a post about him. So thanks Colleen for the article, Huck was so sweet and made an impression (equal parts crazy and loving) on every one he met!
  • The Indian site Padhaaro did a feature on my blog: All about the Werkenntwen
  • I leave tomorrow for 25 days in Karnataka with goMowgli and I haven’t even packed! Ah! Perks of being on a tour bus, I can overpack a little bit knowing that I have some stability in my travels- I think I may even take a REAL-sized pillow.

Now your story,

Okay this story is a little gross but I feel like telling it anyways because well, travel CAN be gross, so here goes:

While in Thailand, my big toe got stepped on and the nail turned black and blue. Later it turned white. Then it kind of half fell off. When it grew back it was all kinds of wonky. I’d had a messed up toe nail before (an ingrown nail) when I was about 12. I’m also a nurse… so I knew that a podiatrist could simply cut the side of the nail that was dead and fix it up proper.

Let’s just try finding a podiatrist online in Goa. Yeah, not happening.

I went to the hospital (which I won’t name…) that specializes in helping people through acid trips in Vagator. Ben dropped me at the door and parked the scooter while I went in. I told the doctor I needed my nail cut. He’s like, “no, I will take the whole nail”. 

He was numbing it up while we discussed the fact I didn’t want my whole toe nail ripped off. There were three nurses around me. I’d met them before: food poisoning, rabies shots… we’ve been acquainted enough for a lifetime.

All the sudden, I feel a huge cut up one side of my nail.

“dude I can feel that too much!!!! stop!!!” I yelled. The nurses were clearly in there to hold me down because I was about this close to kicking Mr. MD in the face.

“It’s paining!” I yelled in Hinglish as he cut up the other side and in one swift motion RIPPED my nail off with pliers. This is the kind of shit they do in shady interrogations. I am not a terrorist!

This all happened within about 2.5 minutes. Ben walked in and was all “wtf” because I was bawling my eyes out. The MD held his belly and let out a laugh like only Santa Claus should and said, “ahh, make her stop crying. It’s not so bad.”

“Listen, is my nail going to grow back?” I asked desperately.

He replied with the MOST ambiguous head wobble I’ve ever seen and walked off with a smile.

This is India!

PS: Although I’m still tortured by the memory of having my toenail ripped off, it did grow back within a few months, thank god!


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About the Author:

Rachel Jones left a career in nursing and lived on the beaches of Goa, India for the five years. Now she lives in Mexico where she gives advice on the 40+ countries she’s visited in the last 10 years. She’s the author of two India travel e-books: Guide to India and Insider’s Guide to Goa. Her blog, Werkenntwen, like its name, is a contradiction combining off-beat adventurous places with glamorous and bespoke travel. Werkenntwen has been featured in ELLE, Marie Claire, Grazia, and Cosmopolitan magazines. She’s a writer for Bravo TV.


  1. Colleen Brynn October 10, 2014 at 6:55 pm - Reply

    I remember you were still recovering from this/dealing with this while I was visiting you. I still can’t believe that happened, but having been to India I TOTALLY can believe it. Great story. Has it grown back?? Or started to? I know toenails take a lot longer to grow than finger nails.

    • Rachel Jones October 11, 2014 at 1:56 pm - Reply

      LOL yes it has grown back thank god! but it’s a little weird still lol

  2. Jasper October 10, 2014 at 7:25 pm - Reply

    ARGH!! That’s terrible! This story, more than any other you’ve told, make me certain that I don’t ever want to stay in India long enough to have to interact with the health-care system. Wow. Thanks for sharing, though, great story as usual!!

    • Jasper October 10, 2014 at 7:26 pm - Reply


    • Rachel Jones October 11, 2014 at 1:56 pm - Reply

      lol, yea it was a rough day! it was a shitty hospital as well though

  3. Nat October 10, 2014 at 9:20 pm - Reply

    Poor Rachel!!
    I can imagine how painful and horrible was… We have been travelling for 6 months and I needed medical attention when we were in Morocco…. I had a horrible mosquito bites allergy, to find a open pharmacy to buy antihistamine took me three days…
    Definitely be sick or be injured while travelling is one of the hardest things…
    Hope you toe and nail are looking better now!

    • Rachel Jones October 11, 2014 at 1:57 pm - Reply

      wow that’s a terrible allergy to have! glad you are okay.

  4. Ashley | Ashley Wanders October 10, 2014 at 10:25 pm - Reply

    That sounds horrible! I slammed my finger in a car door and half the nail fell off and it hurt like hell, so I can only imagine what it was like to have your whole toe nail ripped off! Also, I loved your use of ‘Hinglish’ haha.

    • Rachel Jones October 11, 2014 at 1:57 pm - Reply

      ouch, yeah a slammed one hurts a lot too! my “hinglish” is very good

  5. The Guy October 11, 2014 at 12:27 am - Reply

    Ouch Rachel that sounds very painful. I hope the toe nail has grown back a fair bit now.

    As a child a concrete slab fell onto my big toe and I’ve had a life time since of toe nails gradually coming loose and falling off. They turn a nasty green colour just before they do too.

    I thought my toe had recovered mostly from this since it hasn’t happened for a number of years. Then in February whilst in a hotel I accidentally banged my foot against the wall and knocked the nail lose. It came off eventually and a fresh, new one is nearly complete :-)

    Last minute packing, I love it! I keep falling into that trap too and it does increase the risk of forgetting something.

    Have a safe trip.

    • Rachel Jones October 11, 2014 at 1:58 pm - Reply

      Yes thank goodness it has come back, although not as cute as before lol. They say when they fall off naturally from an injury that they grow back nice and perfect.. this is not the case when ripped off lol

  6. venus john October 11, 2014 at 12:51 am - Reply

    you poor thing..i ran away from a dentist’s clinic after 3 visits and a lot of pain,and the tooth is now damaged..this inspite of me being a dentist and going to a ‘good dentist’ who was my instructor in one of the best dental colleges in india..

    • Rachel Jones October 11, 2014 at 1:58 pm - Reply

      ouchhhh! Ben also hates going to the dentist and found it so so painful here in Goa

  7. Karisa @ Flirting with the Globe October 11, 2014 at 3:13 am - Reply

    OUCH!!!!!! He’s lucky you didn’t punch him in the throat. :) Looking forward to ear about your upcoming adventure!

    • Rachel Jones October 11, 2014 at 1:59 pm - Reply

      Lol, I wanted to punch him!!!! It was so crazy and painful

  8. Prasad Np October 11, 2014 at 10:14 am - Reply

    OMG! You sure are on a tough luck in India… I mean knowing nurses from previous visits and the dumb ass doctor… ! Well lets us hope this was your last visit to a Doctor.. or Hospital…. take care..

    • Rachel Jones October 11, 2014 at 1:59 pm - Reply

      lol, well I think my luck will turn around in Karnataka this month :) crossing my fingers.

  9. Emily October 11, 2014 at 4:11 pm - Reply

    Oh god…I was wincing reading this…you brave soul! I am not sure I would have been able to make it through that without passing out!

    • Rachel Jones October 12, 2014 at 7:35 pm - Reply

      I had so much anger at them I think that’s what kept me alert haha

  10. Michelle October 12, 2014 at 2:29 am - Reply

    Thanks for posting the link about Huckleberry. I’m sorry for your loss.

  11. Rebekah October 12, 2014 at 11:12 am - Reply

    when I was growing up in Zambia my mom left me with a nurse while she went to talk to the doctor. The nurse tried to give me a shot and I didn’t know what it was so I literally fought her off and ran screaming out of the office. Life abroad is so much fun. I have zero tolerance for pain so I probably would have just died if someone ripped off my toenail

    • Rachel Jones October 12, 2014 at 7:37 pm - Reply

      hahha I can just picture that scene! Seriously, the toenail thing was so painful I pitied myself for days.

  12. Tim | UrbanDuniya October 14, 2014 at 11:08 am - Reply

    O…M…G… I just turned pale. But yeah, this is India! Reminds me of the time my doctor in Pakistan was praying for my health. I don’t want to sound over-skeptical, but from what I can gather, that’s not what he’s paid to do!

    • Rachel Jones October 17, 2014 at 2:30 pm - Reply

      lol, I was also prayed over once by monks! too funny.

  13. Sara @ Simply Sara Journey October 14, 2014 at 1:53 pm - Reply

    My whole body just tensed up reading your story – can’t begin to imagine how painful that was. But the doctor that laughed and smiled after? CRAZY. Sounds like this will be one of your probably many moments of “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” of your experiences in India!

    • Rachel Jones October 17, 2014 at 2:24 pm - Reply

      lol yes the MD was cracking up! and the nurses too.. no such thing as bedside manner here.

  14. Justine October 14, 2014 at 7:08 pm - Reply

    Reading this story was actually hard! I can’t imagine how badly that must have hurt. And I would have been totally paranoid that my toenail wouldn’t have grown back. I’m so glad to hear that yours actually did!

    • Rachel Jones October 17, 2014 at 2:24 pm - Reply

      lol it was redic! and i was paranoid I cried on and off for like 2 days that it wouldnt grow back!

  15. Glamourous Journeyler October 16, 2014 at 12:01 pm - Reply

    OMG! Insane! my bf has the same problem but his never seemed to grow back well.. I may have to bring him to this dr in India =)

    • Rachel Jones October 17, 2014 at 2:04 pm - Reply

      lol, well it’s grown back but I guess it’s not as pretty as it used to be! ha

  16. Indian October 26, 2014 at 7:28 am - Reply

    LOL, that cracked me up for sure! I am an Indian and can totally relate to that!

  17. rebecca October 27, 2014 at 8:56 am - Reply

    WTF that is crazy! How could they do that?

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