“You have to laugh at yourself, because you’d cry your eyes out if you didn’t.” -Indigo Girls
I’ve been in Mysore for about seven weeks now. By this time in the trip last year, I was already back in San Francisco, brunching at Boogaloos. This year, I have three more weeks. Which feels like forever and not long enough. (I met a girl on the street yesterday who was new in town, here for two weeks and needed directions. We got to chatting, like ya do, and when I told her the length of my stay, she asked “Why would you stay here for so long?” Good question, new friend. Because it takes that long to get to the good stuff? Because it takes that long to get through the good stuff, get deep into the bad stuff, and hopefully emerge back into the good stuff? Because I’m insane? Maybe all of the above.)
Last week, long-suffering a stomach bug (I’m trying not to to think of that expression too literally), completely empty of anything resembling food (waaaaah), I took a walk to Gokul Chats to get some idly (a rice patty, essentially, and maybe the only thing I had a chance of digesting– waaaaaaah), which they were not serving any more (waaaaaaah), so I ordered some plain rice “in parcel” (to go), paid my 25 rupees, and started to walk home. As Anna would say, someone needed to call the waaaaaah-mbulance. Luckily, this is Mysore, and my friend Todd scooted by and asked me what I was up to. “Quit your whining,” he said, “get over yourself and let’s go to the hospital.” (He was perhaps a tad nicer.)
Okay. It may be that when you go to an Indian coffee shop you have seven people serving you and it takes thirty minutes to get a black coffee. It may be that when you go to a bookstore, you give your purchase to one person to scan, your money to the next person, get a receipt from a third, and have the receipt stamped by a fourth. India is not efficient in the way we expect efficiency in the West. But this hospital that I went to? Got shit done.
We arrived at a few minutes before three. I told the receptionist my problem, and she said I would have to go to the other hospital. Todd and I didn’t know where that one was, so she said “You take ambulance?” Ok, I’ll take an ambulance! The ambulance was outfitted with a bed and a chair in back. We climbed in, and about five minutes later we were at this other hospital. The drivers showed us where to go in. I registered at the front desk (250 rupees, or about 5 US dollars). They seemed fine with me not having a phone number, but I had to fill in my “husband or father’s name” and check a box that said I was single or married. Priorities, people. I waited at the front desk for a few minutes, and then was ushered by a nurse into an examination room that was in full view of everyone sitting in the waiting room. The nurse asked me, “Who is the patient?” Somewhat confused, I responded, “I am.” She asked again, “The patient is who?” “Me. I am the patient. Ellie?” I tried. She didn’t seem quite satisfied. Nonetheless, a doctor came in, asked me the basic questions, pressed on my belly and asked if it hurt (no), and wrote a prescription. She sent me to the pharmacy, a little booth outside the first reception area that filled all three of the medications for 180 rupees, and Todd and I were on our merry way. In less than an hour. With no appointment. No insurance. No long forms to fill out. Having spent less than $10, all told. India’s a far better place than the US to get sick, it seems (though it was India that got me sick, so there’s that).
Four days later, I’m feeling 96% less sick, 98% less whiny, and 114% more excited about the last few weeks here.
Though as an afterthought, it should be said that I just looked up the medication that I’m taking on wikipedia and it appears that it could perhaps cause tendon and/or nerve damage as far as six months after treatment has ended. But it probably won’t, right?