— My name “Alexia” in sanskrit
Haven’t had time to formally blog, hopefully pics of my journal will do. Catch up with you in Goa.
Me indulging in unconventional learning opportunities. Who knew a poor lecture could still teach me something inspiring, and creative. Goodness! We all read the articles, don’t put walls of text in your power points quoting the readings. Tell me something I don’t know.
Sunrise on the beach of the Bay of Bengal in beautiful Pondicherry, India. So worth waking up at 5:30am.
I did not see this coming, at least not in my future. I endured a pretty intense stomach flu the past 2 days and it has been an experience to say the least. I wasn’t feeling well the other night and after vomiting I felt much better. Given my limited experience being sick I figured I would be fine for the next day’s adventures. Boy was I mistaken. After convulsing and dry heaving every hour on the hour from 1 to 7am I knew something was very wrong. I tried to rehydrate myself but nothing would hold down. Under the advise of my amma I called the doctor and was prescribed medication for upset stomach, vomiting, and dehydration. I hadn’t eaten all day and had no desire to come near any food. Just the though of food was enough to physically make me vomit. I had a piece of dry toast over the course of 24 hours, and 10 mins after eating I immediately threw it up, along with the medication. I tried taking the oral rehydration solution, you know, the stuff that you read about in school, the WHO’s answer to the deathly diarrhea problems in India…so much of an answer. It’s one thing to read about it as opposed to living it. I couldn’t swallow none-the-less ingest it. My family and I had tried everything, but my body was not accepting anything. I would drink a cup of water, and vomit an equally clear cup of water within 30 mins. I called the doctor again and he came to our house. He looked at my tongue and knew that the extent of my dehydration was great. We called the country coordinator here in India, Dr. Ram, and the two of them accompanied me to Apollo hospital here in Chennai. It’s a private hospital. We parked right outside and walked past plenty of people, suffering more than me, into the emergency room. “She’s a student from the U.S. she needs to see a doctor.” Things went very quickly from there. Dr. Ram pulled out his business card and things went by even faster. Here I was, an American girl sick in India accompanied by 2 prestigious doctors in the emergency room at the private hospital. My privilege shone as bright as ever. “We can get her on an IV drip but there are no available beds.” funny how after the nurse tells us this, and after a few looks from Dr. Ram a bed happens to show up. I was set up in a stretcher in the hallway directly outside the reception. People were everywhere walking past me speaking foreign languages while my doctors conversed elsewhere. I felt so alone and utterly overwhelmed not only by my sickness, but my the extent of culture shock that I had just experienced. I think back to my desires to blend in, to NOT be looked at as an American, to not be labeled by my privilege, but here I am, pulling out my U.S. identification and not thinking twice about it because I knew that I would get the best and quickest responses that way. I would not trade my privilege for anything in another situation like this. I guess this makes me ignorant, or at least naive. I’m still processing, but what an experience all of this has been. On a good note, I’m feeling much better. After a full night followed by a full day of sleep I feel tremendously better. It’s strange to think back to the state I was in just 24 hours ago. The only problem is that the thought, sight, and smell of food makes me nauseous still. I was lucky to eat 2 apples, 2 bananas, toast, and a few spoons of white rice today without any complications. Still recovering, but the road from here on out looks good.
I now have an Indian amma, appa, patti, and sister. The past two days have gone by so fast. The feeling of actually getting out of the hotel and squeezing five of us into an auto to go buy kurtas and scarves was exhilarating. Not knowing if you were going to get hit of hit someone else on the streets was a bit frightening, yet I had so much faith in the stranger driving the auto, barefoot and all. There is so much method to the madness of the streets. It’s a bit strange how intuitive it all is, I mean there basically are no rules. It’s messy yet graceful. After that adventure it was refreshing to be lost and not worried. So we couldn’t find the plaza right away, but it wasn’t a problem. I’m finding comfort in chaos. It’s the organized stuff that is driving me crazy. Anyway, this weekend has been exactly what I needed. Our family is excellent and Maura (my roommate) and I feel so loved here. They are really making our experience here in Chennai unique. The room that Maura and I share is quaint, the window is fully open to the beautiful night air, and we have a lovely bucket shower. Sure there’s wifi, American television, and a western toilet, but the food is traditional as is the lifestyle. It’s hot during the day and delightfully cool at night. I really couldn’t be happier. Now, I should start my homework to the honks and buzz of life from the streets below.
The only rule of the road: The larger vehicle rules. This was our first experience out on the streets (after 32 hours of travelling, 4 hours of sleep, and 2 hours of orientation) during our city tour of Chennai.