Wednesday, November 28, 2012

An Assault on the Senses: Days 1 - 3

Can there be anywhere else in the world that is such an assault on the senses? Those who know the country well just go about their business. But nothing can prepare the uninitiated for this riot of noise and color, for the heat, the motion, the perpetual teeming crowds…Initially you are overwhelmed. But gradually, you realize it’s like a wave. Resist, and you’ll be knocked over. Dive into it, and you will swim out the other side. – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Day 1

Landed in India on the evening of November 26th, after about 24 hours of traveling. I was greeted at the gate of the airport with big hugs and flowers from my aunt, uncle, and cousin. As soon as we started off in the car, all the memories of the India I remembered came rushing back, as we passed by colorful shops, noisy crowds, persistent honking, and oh, the traffic! I cringed as people walked by our moving car as if it were invisible. It’s true – India is a wonderful assault on the senses. I can’t wait for all the beautiful new memories I’ll make.

Day 2

As much as I love India, my digestive system does not. So as per usual, I’m sick. My family took me to see the doctor, which was an interesting experience. The clinic consisted of a few rooms, each connected by a doorway (no doors); each room was overflowing with patients. We were given a number and told to wait our turn. I took a seat in the room where the doctor sat. I watched as the balding old man listened to the symptoms of the woman who sat in the seat next to him, and never once looking up at her, began scribbling away in his notebook. From time to time, he’d ask a question. Eventually, he made his diagnosis, read off a number of medicines to his assistant, and asked the patient for her name and age, which he also scribbled into the notebook. The assistant gave the woman her meds, and the woman paid her bill and left. After this, everyone in the room moved up a seat, and the process repeated itself. It was strange to see everyone have their visits in front of a number of other patients. The girl who saw the doctor before me was around my age. Her mother told the doctor that her daughter was not sleeping at night, and he asked why. The girl fell silent. The doctor proceeded to ask if she was anxious about anything, or if something was bothering her. Still silence. She stared at the doctor for a good minute, as if trying to tell him something with her eyes, but he never looked up from his notebook. Something was clearly wrong, but whatever it was, she wasn’t going to say it in front of a room full of strangers. The assistant repeated the doctor’s question, and finally the girl shook her head and said no, she wasn’t anxious about anything. And that was the end of it. After my turn, we got my meds and went home. As I took the pills I was prescribed, I found myself drifting into a deep sleep, wondering what the girl was hiding, hoping that she would be ok.

Day 3

Sleep. Bread. Medicine. Sleep. Warm Khitcheri with Lemon Achaar. Medicine. Sleep. TV. Sleep. Poha and freshly squeezed orange juice. Family time. Medicine. Drifting into sleep amidst the sounds of fireworks, hoping I feel fine in the morning. Happy Gurpurab everyone!

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