25 June 2006

trouble on the trax

hours after that last composition, we were sitting in a rooftop restaurant and things began to slide downhill.
(I HAVE NEVER EVER BEEN AS SICK IN MY LIFE AS I WAS IN VARANASI--i heard MORE THAN ONE traveller say this, including a weathered australian man who looked as if he could write off typhoid as a mild upset. if youre going there, take warning.)
  
i realized that what i was saying was not making much sense but rachel listened politely anyway, then half carried me down the four flights of stairs to the ground floor before we had to set off in search of a rickshaw. i was stumbling, it was sundown and the lights and crowd around us were so loud and she had to hold me into the rickshaw..then i don't remember for a while. then laying on a blanket right underneath the loudspeaker on the station platform. rachel got to talking with the large family sitting to our right and explained that i was not feeling well. concerned, they proffered tablets and best wishes.
our nearest companions on the train were a group of older women--spunky, loud, evidently hilarious--who were returning home after a pilgrimage. my favorite, one in a vivid sari with a shaved head and a certain rough voice and directness of speech, reminded me so much of xander's mom. they looked to have seen everything. they also expressed concern over my condition and gave rachel advice.
day two on the train and despite having layed immobile, i was no better because instead of sleeping i merely lapsed into these deliriums that were sometimes fantastical and sometimes nightmarish. the berth was crowded and hot but the scenery was yet again amazing.
on the next night my fever jumped higher and we were low on ibuprofen and so id only taken a half dose and i thrashed about on the bunk muttering and shivering.. but then i opened one eye and a young man was sitting on the edge of the bunk opposite mine, staring at me intently. though sick, my survival instincts were still present and i said as loudly as i could (which wasnt much) is there a problem, sir?
he whispered ..can I help?
i said nay let me sleep and turned against the wall.
but later i started getting scared that my fever was too high and it would cause deeper hurt. i turned over and he hadnt moved.
please get this bandanna wet.
he felt my forehead and neck under the pretense of taking my temperature. not sure if motivations were pure or not; but he obliged with the bandanna and left me alone.
then later some asshole jabbed me and ran away laughing. as i was feeling nauseous and unable to sleep anyway, i made my way to the toilet and knelt outside of it in complete agony, waiting.
a group of curious small children climbed out of their bunk and stood at the doorway. the same creep who jabbed me was standing by the open door of the train (right by the toilet) and perhaps thought id come over out of admiration for him, though i was bent double with my face in my hands.
excuse me madam, which country??
i looked up at him. uhhh.. i... (the moment of truth began to rise menacingly in my throat). i retched.
vomiting in the train is even more surreal , fever aside, because you can see the tracks going by beneath the hole.
despite my state, there were adventures. we decided to stay on our train instead of switching to a different one, because they both went to the same place and this way would be faster and i wouldnt have to move. and we were caught without a ticket.
we would have been thrown off but rachel acted the part of the dumb white girl, i said nothing (not hard) and we had to listen to this crazy inspector lecture us between strange marx brothers and george bush impressions.
one more night on the train, by now i hadn't had a good night of sleep in a week;id also developed a violent cough and sneeze and so on. basically i was the most miserable i think ive ever been. but on the upside, rachel helped me as best she could in spite all my disgusting bodily functions that were occurring at once and my incoherent screaming. thanks bro.
also i had the most fantastic dreams of my life.  
we got off the train in kerela, which is my favorite place i think ive been in india so far (its so beautiful), btw, we had a few hours to kill. we experimented with giving me tylenol cold (the only thing we had left), but i threw it up. off the edge of the train platform, i may add. in front of my biggest audience yet--perhaps 100 indians. if id had the energy for humor, i would have taken a bow because they were staring so much.
we got to rachel's friend's house and her parents were so nice. they quickly figured out how sick i was and expressed concern. later that night, when i was delirious again and couldnt keep anything down, their concern turned to alarm and they wanted to take me to the doctor right then. i told them to let me sleep for a day and if thing werent better we would go then. 
fortunately they had nice potent indian medicine (cough syrup like a dream! nameless & powerful white tablets!) and her dad went and got me rehydration salts in the middle of the night. what a nice man.  
i slept and have made a decent recovery, although i seem to have lost weight--my underwear fell off when i put them on after the shower. which rachel found hilarious.  
sorry this entry sucks so bad but it was kind of a sucky period and im still too drained to really inject any color into things.

3 comments:

Colleen said...

Oh, beloved girl, I'm so glad you're recovering. There isn't so much of you that you can afford to lose much weight. Glad you survived. Do take care and let me know of you need something I can do from here. Much much love.

Luce said...

Normally in such a situation I would prescribe a chile relleno. This is clearly impossible. Luckily there is one sitting in my fridge, just waiting to be devoured by yours truly for her first meal of the day. I really fucking miss you, Natalie, and I hope you feel better. Muah.

Anonymous said...

you always find a way to get sick. Sheesh. I'm sorry to hear about your woes. I hope you feel better, and I miss you tons.
-Leah