India and Argentina Mingle Update, Plus a Good Book – Happiness Between Tails
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Hurrah! Today’s the first day in weeks that I’ve been spared the thud, thud, thud of a headache.
To celebrate, I’ve added a podcast version to this, a graphic, and amplified a little of what I originally posted.
For more of this journey, click here and here and here and here and here.
Wouldn’t it be great if coughing hard enough to get a side stitch at least flattened stomach muscles? In preparation for my annual bloodwork, I curbed my intake of meds, only to be informed after I fasted and woke early this morning for them, that I ought to have waited another ten days anyway.
Never mind being upset. The mirror no longer reflects sunken eyes, sallow skin, and bedhead. A good thing about illness is that health tastes, feels, and smells all the better!
Moreover, my audiobook doldrums that compelled me to tolerate one boring book after another for lack of anything better, has broken. Thank you Carol (and do check out her great blog), for your comment to my last post and turning me on to, “The Secrets Between Us,” a great novel that covers class, gender, sexuality, and more amid modern Mumbai.
Please, nobody tell me how it ends, because I’m only halfway through audiobook reader Sneha Mathan’s always stunning performance. The cover describes it as a sequel, but nothing is lost by not reading the prequel beforehand. At her blog, a background study on her latest book called, “Honor,” offers a discussion of the broken-hearted sort of love anyone can have for their homeland.
Now for the original, albeit updated, post…
Goodness, I hope my incredible ennui isn’t infectious. I’m still getting over a bad cold. While I’m technically well and I’ve been able to make significant inroads on the eventual podcast of my novel-in-progress, Flamenco & the Sitting Cat, my brain hurts, probably due to an ongoing hacking cough that just now caused a stranger to jump.
And maybe it also has to do with an earlier yet still recent bittersweet trip to my mothers homeland of Argentina?
And maybe it has to do with all the vaccines my husband and I had to take before our recent visit to India?
Okay, okay — I’ll address each of those one-by-one: 1. Enough said about the cold. 2. I haven’t processed the Argentina trip thoroughly enough to blog coherently about it.
Getting ready for the India journey involved preliminary steps.
Wait — before I go on, hand on heart, I’ve never ever met so many many genuinely kind people as in India, strangers included… Also, if it (and the Argentina visit) hadn’t involved as much expense and quite a few hours of flying, perhaps this post would be different…
First off, visas are required of visitors from the United States. It’s a confusing, worrisome process due to having no one around to explain it in more detail than can be found on 99.9% of websites. As far as I can tell, if you don’t apply online, you have to go in for a face-to-face interview, and who wants to expend time and energy on that? Online, for several days I tried every which-way, always thwarted when it came to clicking the dates we’d stay. It took phoning each of the six U.S. Indian embassies, mostly leaving un-replied-to voicemails — to get the gist that one can’t apply online sooner than 30 days before departure.
Who travels like that? My style is to know I’ll be allowed into a country before I purchase tickets that I’ve bought months earlier to secure good rates and time off work for. Fortunately, my husband purchased our airfares directly through an airline that happened to allow cancellations up to 24-hours in advance.
Given how no vaccines are required by law, it seemed like overkill when my honey requested I email our doctor about medical precautions. I thought I was being quite responsible when I emailed four weeks in advance. Doctor pointed me in the direction of Kaiser Insurance’s international travel desk. That number instructed me to leave my phone number and then to wait a couple of weeks for them to reply. And it wasn’t the mechanized type that allows one to play back one’s message to ensure that the phone company didn’t garble it. The clock ticked loudly as I worried that my phone might confuse a callback for a robocall. Fortunately, the travel desk nurse connected with us several days later.
Now here you have to close your ears if you’re from India — and please know that in no way do I mean to insult any country: the nurse sternly warned that India’s water, food, and environment is among the world’s toughest on the likes of soft North American constitutions.
The international travel advice nurse ordered for us:
- Vaccines for hepatitis A and B. One involved a booster as soon as we returned home and both require boosters in six months.
- Anti-typhoid pills we began taking daily before the trip and ended a week afterwards.
- Antibiotics to have on hand “just in case.”
She also highly recommended:
- Not drinking, brushing our teeth, or opening our mouths in the shower unless boiled or bottled water was involved.
- Not eating anything raw.
- No eating street food.
- Liberally dousing ourselves and our clothing with high-DEET bug spray.
- And a bunch of lesser stuff that added up to feeling like perhaps we might as well pack hazmat suits.
- Oh, and taking two Pepto Bismo tablets four times a day to help avoid “traveler’s tummy” even though it could give us harmless ugly black tongues and poop, which is confirmed by the manufacturer’s video about it. Side note: is it totally accidental that their actress wears a lucky horseshoe on her necklace? Anyhoo, don’t quote me and I’m no physician, but somewhere I read you don’t want to do this for longer than a couple of weeks.
Ordinarily, I’m the sort to slough off this type of talk as over-reacting. However, in Argentina we’d gotten really and truly ill from eating in a tourist-stop restaurant. At the risk of too much information, never before had I experienced such a horrible thing. Thank the goddesses we’d rented an apartment with a clothes washer and dryer. An unrelated anecdote is that this was in a small town whose scenic vistas were obscured by the smoke of record-breaking brush fires. Wouldn’t you know it, locals went about their business like nothing. Here in fire-prone Los Angeles County, we barricade ourselves for far less (which I’m all for).
In addition, just before our journey to India, at our annual eye exams, the doctor mentioned that his sister was still weeks into a hospital stay from some severe mystery awfulness she’d contracted while visiting family in India…
How many of your real life family and friends read what you write?