Friday, November 4, 2011

Vomiting, massages and hospitals... Oh my! Our week in Kerala part 1.

We left our home stay in Delhi on Saturday afternoon and weren't catching our flight until Monday morning so we booked a cheap (think $30 bucks) hotel by the train station. It was dirty. Don't stay at the chanchal deluxe hotel in Delhi, it sucks. There were dead fruit flys all over the floor and bed and the bathroom was scary. I kind of threw a fit and proclaimed I would not eat food from the hotel because of how dirty it was but there weren't many options outside. I guess thats the thing about staying in india for an extended period of time, at some point you just accept that its fucking filthy. What was i going to do? Go downstairs and throw a fit that my 30 dollar a night hotel in the shithole neighborhood that is the delhi train station was dirty? It was all food carts surrounding the numerous religious icon stores where people were hand carving statues of Shiva. So we ordered room service, specifically the chicken biryani which was delicious as we were eating it. Fast forward to Sunday afternoon and Bill is vomiting and has diarrhea all at once. I can only deduce he had a really high fever from the way he felt to my hands because we didn't have a thermometer. Who travels around the world with a first aid kit?! Pshaw.... On top of all this his recurring bad back had given out so he was immobile. I wasn't feeling so great myself but I managed to keep it in on both ends so I was fine. As Sunday afternoon grew into Sunday evening I started getting worried and I did what anyone would do... I called my mother. I figured that if I looked up his symptoms on the Internet it would tell me he was dying (it did, it said he had malaria) so I opted for moms advice instead. She assured me he prob just ate something bad but he should go to the hospital. The one thing I always told bill was if I got sick to never EVER take me to a hospital in Asia. The last thing I want is a needle for an IV going into my body and I get some terrible disease and die far from Brooklyn. He did start taking the malaria pills we had brought from home as a precaution.

I don't know how either of us withstood the flight the next day, or the two hour drive to fort kochi from the airport but we did. Well, i dont know how i did it, bill ate a painkiller and passed out. He was burning up the whole time and I just kept giving him aspirin and malaria medicine. I knew something was up with me because the smell of any sort of food was making me turn green. Our hotel there wasn't great either but it didn't really matter because we both went to bed immediately. The next morning the lady running the place made us eggs for breakfast and sat with us while we ate. I really felt at the time I would never be able to eat another egg as long as I lived. Bill looked like he got beat down with the vomit stick and pushed the food around on his plate. He was also limping around because of his back. After living with a family for 3 weeks with very little privacy, Kerala was supposed to be the romantic part of our India trip. We were not getting off on a good foot.

Our driver for the week picked us up and was a very nice and funny guy. He made bill sit in the front so he could recline back and relax. We drove almost 5 hours to the mountains in Munnar. It was miles and miles of tea plantations rolling over the hilly landscape. It was breathtakingly beautiful. Everything in Kerala was on steroids. The greens were so deep an lush, the flowers were extraordinarily large, the houses were painted in neon purples, teal and lime. The sky was BLUE! There are no blue skies in Delhi, it's just a continual overcast of hazy pollution. These skies were blue! There were elephants on the side of the road! We drove past countless waterfalls that appeared magically out of solid rock. There was barely any trash on the side of the road. This place was amazing. We finally pulled into the Arunyaka resort. There were a small cluster of cottages overlooking a hill of tea plants and a waterfall. The air was silent except for the sound of the crashing water and the rustling of the wind. We ordered some lunch which we both regretted eating and then drove down to an Ayurvedic place to make massage appointments for the next day, then caught a kathakali show, which is a traditional form of dance and storytelling.

The next morning bill still had a fever so we decided he should go to the hospital after breakfast. Thank god they had cornflakes, we lived off of cornflakes for days. I really need to write the manufacturer of corn flakes telling them they saved my life and see if they give me a free box. We rolled up to the Tata general hospital in Munnar. Tata is an all encompassing brand in India, they make the ever popular $3000 car, a plethora of crap, and they have a beverage company which includes tea. Our resort was down the road from the Tata tea packaging plant, so it made sense that the local hospital was also of the Tata variety. I don't know if any of you ever watched that stupid hospital show set in costa rica on ABC ( for awhile ABC was the only channel we got that's why I know this) but the hospital kind of looked like that. A one story building in the middle of nowhere, the emergency room was 8 beds, all empty. The nurse told us to wait and the doctor saw us after 5 minutes. He told bill it was prob a mixture of altitude sickness and food poisoning and gave him a bunch of medicine. The cost of the visit and the medicine was $3.50 USD. I couldn't believe it, we could still make our massage! I thought we would be in there all day!

Bill opted out of his massage and that was a wise decision considering what I ended up going through. Aryuvedic medicine is everywhere in southern India and to get the true healing experience it's a treatment given over time. For example, if Bill really wanted to use the treatment to fix his slipped disc he would consult with an Ayurvedic doctor and participate in various treatments for 3-4 hours a day over the course of a couple weeks. We just wanted a one off massage so our driver took us to one of the many clinics that pepper the landscape of Munnar. It was a tiny little building that wasn't very pretty inside. It was dark and damp and dingy. This is the case with a lot of places in India and then you actually go in and it's fine, so I didn't really think of it when I was booking my 90 minute relaxation body rub. A girl who looked kind of young led me into a dark room. The floor was dirty, the walls were covered in mold as a result of the steam box in the room. There was an enormous wooden table in the center of the room with an oil dispenser hovering over the head of the table. On the side there was a counter with a gas burner and various jars of oils and creams. She told me to take my clothes off so I took my pants and shirt off. She then motioned for me to take my underwear off. The thought that literally went through my mind was "it's India time" I figured that I was in for a penny in for a pound. How many diseases could I possibly get from that wooden table? I already probably had food poisoning and there wasn't any rash a good cream can't cure, right? I took off my underwear and stood in the cold room shivering, stark naked, with a young Indian girl. She unfolded a paper loin cloth thing that she tied around my waist and in between my legs and motioned for me to get onto the table. I was shivering as I lay face down and watched her put oils and spices into a big pot on the burner and then mix some oil into a bowl. She started by pouring oil all over my head and massaging it into my scalp. She worked her way over every part of my body, every crevice, every muscle, down to the tips of my fingers and toes. As the spices in the pot began to boil they let off a very calming aromatic perfume and at one point the electricity went out so for 5 blissful minutes I actually forgot that I was in a set from the movie Saw getting oil rubbed by a minor. After the massage was done she helped me off the table and slid me over, oil dripping off my skin, to the wooden steam cabinet. I sat down, she closed the door and then put the top on so just my head was sticking out and I steamed for 20 minutes. When I wasn't thinking of all the horrible things that might happen to my cooch as a result of it sitting exposed in this environment, it was actually very relaxing. After the steaming was over she came back with a stack of gauze cloths and then proceeded to wipe me down. I would have rather wiped myself down but I guess that was part of the $22 deal I got right? I got dressed and tipped her and ran out of there. Meanwhile, bill and the driver had been chillin in the car and when they saw me, oil dripping from my head, he looked a little scared and asked me if I wanted to shower, which I did. After I got out of the shower though, I looked at myself in the mirror and I was literally glowing from top to bottom. My skin had never looked so brilliant. Bill commented that my face "felt like a baby's ass" and it did. It felt smooth and creamy and had a healthy flush to it. I did not end up getting a weird rash in my nether regions so all in all it really was the best 22 bucks I ever spent on a beauty product. Not to mention they weren't kidding when they said it was a "deep relaxation" massage. I could barely keep my eyes open as we went sightseeing and I fell sleep at 8pm and had the deepest, most restful sleep in weeks.


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