1. Unvegetarianed myself Thursday night with a dissapointing chicken butter masala. realized I'm sick of Indian spices, so re-unvegetarianed myself today with a chicken club sandwich, with BACON, and MAYO..on a day where there were big, long power cuts, then followed that with an iced coffee ( with INDIAN ice and INDIAN milk..am about to be sick as a dog, but ya know, screw it. No risk, no reward, or some other lame cliche..)
2. Walked smack into a festival today, celbrating a muslim holiday..that crap made Ramadan in Morocco seem tame...NA and F and I were the only girls trying to navigate through a throng of men and boys, beating drums, with tinseld towers up to 12 feet tall, drum circles, group dancing, religious fits, all kinds of general mayhem..loud and amazing and scary and HOLY CRAP that was cooler than forgetting it was the Gay Pride parade and accidentally wandering into Greenich Village last year, lemme tell you.
3. New owner of a traditional anklet, a necklace with Ganesh (the elephant god..god of good luck and mischief..one of which I need, one of which I apparently cause..) and a pair of really dangly pure silver earrings, and now when I walk I go bingle bangle boop, or a facsimle thereof. At least 200 bucks worth of silver for a mere 25..YAY for poverty/developing nations meeting western consumerism! Seriously though, I'm such a cheap bastard now. I wouldn't pay the equivalant of 5 bucks for a kurta today I really adored because I KNEW he was ripping me off, at least by standards here, and that just pissed me off, especially when my spiel about being a swemseyvak ateaphak ( volunteer teacher) and not a tourist didn't make him budge an inch.
4. New volunteers are here, and they are young, and loud, and hard drinkers, and I have been in an epic funk, my head has been threatening to explode all week, and school last week blew camels, so I've been antisocial, but now 3/4s of them are sick, with vomiting, diarrhea, fevers, or all three, so I'm kind of smirking and feeling like the old, seasoned one around here, at least until the chicken club sandwich and coffee really kicks in.
5. Decided Friday a good way to prevent child abuse is to simply grab the offender when the hindi teacher threatens to smack him because you will not, pull him into your lap, and tell him that since he's naughty, he's now your husband. This will not only horrify him into some sort of calm coma, it also cracks up the hindi teacher, so you have a calm, unsmacked boy, a placated teacher, etc. That is until his friends/cousins decide that since you are married to Kailish, as his property he can sell you to them, and then they all want to sit on your lap. Doesn't matter the age...tell a boy you're gonna marry him and they lose conciousness and brain cells.
Anywho. Still trying to figure out whats next. NA and F end at the same time I do, and they are heading to Goa ( coastal India ) and Mumbai ( Bollywood, baby..) then F is going to Nepal, NA is travelling to visit family and then all around the south of India, then she and N and E ( a former volunteer) are going further north to Sikkim and the like ( still in India) then F is going to Thailand in April, NA is going to try and sneak into Kashmir with E, then go to Switzerland to visit a BOY, then onto Thailand to meet up with F ( maybe) and then they are both going to Denmark ( F'S home) in May. NA has invited me to accompany her all over India, N has asked me to go to Sikkim, and F has invited me to Thailand and Denmark. I'm still just trying to breath right now and figure out how exactly to keep my pants up. N should be taking me to a tailor this week so I can get some new ones made. Screw a spiritual growth experience, this is turning out to be the worlds most hardcore diet.
I'm a bit looped and tired to fully explain now, but I just got through navigating the Indian medical system..I still have a head attatched, I've lost a bit over 20 pounds, and a full ER visit cost about $4.20. That is correct. Less than 5 bucks.
On the other hand, I have no clue what I was injected with, but I ate a brownie afterwards, after a day of no food, so it must have been pretty ok.
I suppose it's good when going through this kind of experience to have a slight emergency, something that happening back home can cause great stress, to see if any of what you seem to be absorbing here is actually of any use.
Last week was pretty shit, for the most part, with rotten children, regular life crap, and the extremes of being in a country like this all weighing down. I'd been battling a headache for about a week, ranging from mild, to crying in the tuk tuk on the way to school when we were on unpaved roads (besides no headlights, do not count on tuk tuks to have shock absorbers..) There was also the arrival of the new volunteers, which found me really missing my departed friends, and trying to figure out how to forge a bond with the new ones, when all I wanted to do was sleep, and all they wanted to do was drink.
The Indian custom here is to basically hound someone to bits when they are concerned about you, and my appetite has been off, my emotions have been raw, and my pain has been clearly registered on my face. Upon N and G returning with the new kids they started in on me right away..."Puglet Ji..what is wrong..?" Trying to explain post brain surgery headaches is difficult when the language and culture is common, forget trying to do it when there is nothing shared. I couldn't cope with the volume and accents of all the new folks at dinner time..there are now 10 volunteers in the house, plus G and N and H, so I'd sit at the end of the table and try and eat, picking peppers out of my curry, spreading butter or cheese on a chapati, willing myself to eat so MJ wouldn't attack me with the coconut oil or make me stale toast.
MJ has been a surrogate mother at times, a big sister, a friend..she's only 3 years my senior but can fill all these roles, and in my time here she and I have gotten quite close. My face isn't very good at hiding emotion anyway, and the dark circles under my eyes from my headache are impossible to hide. Plus I quit taking daily buckets, because the idea of standing on cold tile and dumping cups of lukewarm water on myself seemed beyond unbearable. So she's noticed these things, and told me she was going to pray to her personal god, Shiva, all night for me on Saturday. I'd been trying to explain the intricacies of western interpersonal relationships to her as well, and all she can say is that I am a good girl, with a big smile, and so nice, and everything should be ok, and that's what her husband says, too. You have to take it all with a grain of salt..the strange ayurvedic oils offered, the advice, the care..all done with good intent, but in crisis can have you feeling very, very alone, because you can't make anything understood. So every morning she comes to me wide eyed, asking if everything is better now, because since she has prayed all night, it should be.
I've been sleeping with G and N in the rec room, because I don't yet feel comfortable in my old room with my new roomie, and the dynamics are different, with volunteers piling into our room, right off the dining area, at night to use the bathroom when they are watching TV, or just come and sit on the edge of the beds and shoot the shit, and I'm still solitary by nature, especially when feeling physically or emotionally vulnerable. And my headache was getting progressively worse, and having my little/big brothers close to me made me feel better, and made them feel better, because they couldn't understand why I was feeling so bad and nothing they were doing was helping.
Yesterday morning I had a doctors appointment, in the loosest sense of the word. The doctor who had previously seen me was out of town, so I had to go to the hospital, and make an appointment on site. They couldn't get an opening in the morning, so once everyone returned from school I was pried from bed and stuck in KJ'S tuk tuk, along with K, one of the new volunteers who wanted to see a doctor herself, and N. The rocky, bumpy ride down to the main road had me clenching my fingers into my palms to the point of breaking the skin. We arrived at the " American" hospital, where I was sent into the emergency room, and the games begun.
There was lots of pulling N away by the doctor, to speak in Hindi about what was best for me, because I am a woman, and not quite capable of making my own decisions. I told K to advocate for me, that I wanted pain relief, and to stand by N and the doctors and report back to me anything that was said. They wanted to wait for the neurosurgeon to come, and I had to be insistent that this was not something I needed to consult a surgeon for..and we ran around in circles, with me explaining ACM 1 and syringomyelia, plus repeated respitory issues, plus teaching in government schools = big fucking headache. K explored the operating theater, N and her weighed themselves, I tried to get the doctors to play with me directly, and finally, I got injected with something in the butt. K and I tried to ascertain exactly what it was, but we never did quite figure it out. We waited until it kicked in, collected my prescriptions at the pharmacy, and piled back into the tuk tuk, and then N insisted we go to Cafe ***** for brownies and such, because I hadn't eaten breakfast or lunch.
So I'm sitting there, stoned, in the tuk tuk, head lolling back and forth, clutching my recipets for my under 5 dollar ER visit, thinking that back home I'd still be in the ER, I should still be in the ER, and why am I being taken to a cafe..and then we are at the cafe, and eating brownies, and yet again nothing here is normal, at all. I spent yesterday and today in bed, H bought me a convection toaster oven, everyone wants me to make them pies and cakes, and I really wanna go back to school and torture my kidlets.
I'm making plans to go to Sikkim, and N got my ticket today to go with him and E and NA, and NA has been figuring out how to get me from Goa with her and F to ****** in Gujarat, where her family lives, for a week before we plan our southern India trip. Sikkim is up by Nepal, and a great trekking area, and relatively untouched by tourists, though it's gaining popularity since the troubles in Nepal. NA and F and I still have to figure out how to get from here to Mumbai and Goa after Feb 8th. NA and I are planning to come back to Udaipur and ***** for Holi at the end of March..March 22nd, or thereabouts. And thats all I know for now.
Feb 9th until Feb 11th I'll be in Mumbai, India. The teaching ends Feb 8th. From Feb 12th until March 2nd I'll be in Goa, India. Goa is beaches, beaches, and beaches. I've not planned any of this, rather am going with what has already been decided by NA and F. March 3rd through 20th will be NA and I traveling the south of India, until March 20th when I believe we will be back in Delhi and then traveling back to ***** to spend Holi and prep for our trip to Sikkim.
So that's the plan right now, which we will work on firming up the next few days, with N acting as travel agent to secure tickets, etc. There will be many many bus and train rides and perhaps 2-3 flights happening in February and March..which is still ridiculously cheap by western standards.
So if anyone would like to come to India in February or March ( I know, as if) the best place to meet up would be in Goa. In my delusional world where people could actually come to India, this is the best idea. So if anyone cares to share a delusional disorder with me, you're most welcome.