Tuesday, March 24, 2009

sooo...since it's been forever since I've written a proper post...

I guess I should write an update. Fortunately, I'm pretty sure that the few who read this blog for actual travel updates have already been in touch through mobile (luckyyyy), but for the rest of you who are out there and aren't one of the like 3 people I've called, THIS IS FOR YOU. *blows kiss*

so, basically, I'll try to give the brief stream-of-consciousness version of my last several days, because I don't really have the energy for much more. (I was coming up with all sorts of witty blog posts in the hospital this morning, but that was this morning.)

Soooo...I can't even remember the last time I posted. I think it might have been in Bihar? It was. And I just posted about my huge lip in Dumka. Okayyy...

...bullet points might be easier. I love bullet points. (but not bullets)
  • After a few busy yet fruitful days in Dumka, we visited one of our Dumka subprojects, and then took an overnight train to Kolkata (Calcutta). On this evening, I got an EXCRUCIATING headache, one of the nausea-inducing kind. The train ride wasn't great (I can't say that I've ever had a GREAT time on an overnight train in India), but wasn't terrible, thanks to Excedrin Migraine and the ever-trusty ipod with the audio books on it.
  • We arrived in Kolkata, found a taxi, drove to the airport, got on the airplane, SAT on the airplane for what seemed like forever, and then actually FLEW on the airplane to Hyderabad.
  • Arrived in Hyderabad, tried to rest for a bit (which was probably necessary, seeing as how I had only slept on the train from about 12:30am to 4:30am prior to our 5:00am arrival), showered, and then went to a gathering of mothers group leaders.
  • During the gathering (which was very nice, the moms are amazing, the community center that they have now is amazing, it is amazing what these women are doing for their families. just give women a chance!), I started to feel preeetttyyyy sick. I had been feeling a little woozy since the uber-migraine from the night before, but by this point I could tell I was actually sick sick. I was asked to say a few words after Ilene gave one of her inspiring talks, but had to say my words from my chair because I thought I might fall over if I got up.
  • I did have to get up eventually, and almost passed out, and was feeling really bad, and had to be taken to lie down. Our Hyderabad coordinator asked if I wanted to see a doctor, and I knew that I needed to. (Malaria is a particular threat in some of the areas we had been traveling in, so I knew that I should "immediately seek medical attention," but I also just felt really, really crappy.)
  • So, we went to a hospital.

And...that's where I was for the past few days. It sucked. At one point, I thought I was going to die, and was prepared to...mind you, this was at my absolute worst point, in the middle of the night, when I super feverish and delirious and dizzy. The nurses were applying cold compresses all over my body to bring down the fever, and my bedside companion-cum-coworker Rosie looked so worried that I thought, "okay, this might be really bad, I might die, I don't really want to, but I think I'm ready."

Of course, I didn't die (see previous post re: hypochondriasis), but those few days sucked. Once I felt better, I was just so BORED and SO tired of being there, but it was supposedly important that I stay hooked up to that daggum IV (which, in hindsight, WAS important). I

  • completely exhausted the magazines that I had brought for the whole trip (I had spent a lot of time finding the Perfect Three, ones that weren't as shallow as Us Weekly but still light enough to keep me entertained [if not stimulated] during the journey),
  • finished my book club book (Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri, delicious and terribly melancholy),
  • finished my audio version of The Sisterhood (not deliciously melancholy, but light and fun enough),
  • started my audio version of David Sedaris' Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim (I bet this would be more fun to read than to listen to),
  • tried to knit: this went very badly. Please keep in mind that I had an IV stuck in my hand. I ended up dropping a stitch, which caused me to unravel the whole thing (I wasn't that far into the project anyway). I started again, but then realized that my IV hand was starting to swell...>.<>

In the end, I ended up NOT having malaria (which is very good), but instead a stomach infection (which is not BAD but sure wasn't FUN). Today, after three nights, I was finally released. FINALLY. I can't believe I ended up staying for so long.

Right now my coworkers are shopping, (buying me shirts!), and I am just lying here, trying to get back in touch with the electronic world. I hope this post doesn't sound like a sob story. I just had to spit my last few sucky days out onto the internet so I don't have to think about them anymore.

In Much More Exciting News, we fly back to the U.S. TOMORROW! I am beyond ready. I know that I will experience culture shock (I'm already feeling it today just peeking in on facebook...), but I really miss home. I've been missing home. It's been a really GOOD trip, and I have really learned SO MUCH (maybe someday I will blog about THOSE things instead of my self-indulgent me-posts), and am really glad I came. But, tomorrow, we get to start heading toward my homeland, and I am sincerely looking forward to it.

see you on the flip side...literally...of the world...

I wrote this pretty much forever ago...

Here is the funny story for the day*: So I woke up unreasonably early this morning, as usual (about 5am). I plugged myself into my ipod to listen to a little more audiobook and try to lull myself back to sleep. Once it was about time to actually get up, I felt this little pain on my lower lip. A couple of minutes later, I touched my lip, and realized that it was swelling up. Huh. A couple MORE minutes later, I felt it again, and realized that it was getting even bigger. I freaked out a little bit, went into the bathroom to look at myself in the mirror, and freaked out some more, because I was starting to LOOK freaky.

I had been lying under my mosquito net when it happened, so I was convinced that something terrible and poisonous had attacked me, and that either my lip was going to continue to get bigger, like as big as my face, or that I was going to go into convulsions and die soon.

I made the frantic and tearful phone calls to my dear ones in the States, and then went next door to my coworker’s room to show her what was happening to my face. They all soothed me and told me that it was very unlikely that I was going to die, that the swelling would go down with a little Benadryl, and that if I started to have any adverse reaction I could go see a doctor. No biggie. (Ilene even told me that I looked cute, kind of like a botoxed movie star.)

Obviously, there was no adverse reaction. The bump on my lip, however, DID end up taking over most of the lip. I had to go meet with a bunch of people that I don’t know very well (one or two for even the first time), pretending like it was no big deal that I suddenly had this HUGE LIP, and tried not to spill coffee all over myself when I found that the bump got in the way of the coffee actually going into my mouth.

Now, this evening, my lip is practically back to normal. And I’m feeling a lot less freaked out. (Thanks, dear ones!)

It is kind of funny how sensitive I am to things like that when I travel. In the US my hypochondriasis is much less acute, but when I’m here, the smallest little symptom makes me so nervous. With my one experience with medical care in India, plus the fact that lack of proper medical care is a huge concern in these rural areas that we are visiting, I get these visions of being sick and stranded and helpless. But I’m not sick, nor am I stranded, nor am I helpless. I think I might be kind of a weenie.

In other bite-related news, I am learning to exercise self-control and to NOT scratch my zillion mosquito bites, even though they are very very itchy…right now…self control…

* funny to me now, at least

Sunday, March 15, 2009

thoughts from underneath the mosquito net

the thing...that makes it so hard...to blog...while I'm in India...is that I'm so...tired.

I realize that it's only 7:30pm, but whew. I could fall asleep right now. In fact, I WOULD fall asleep right now, but we haven't had dinner yet, and even though I'm never quite hungry when I'm here, it's a part of the traveling-together-and-being-congenial-with-our-hosts deal. (which certainly is not bad. I have fantastic traveling companions and hosts, the best in fact.)

While I am roughly sleeping while it's dark and staying awake when it's light, my sleeping schedule is pretty wack, what with the jet lag and doses of benadryl that I've been taking to make my legs not turn into huge mosquito-bite-lumps. Last night I fell into a drug-induced sleep at about 9pm, but woke up at about 2:30am and had to listen to my sisterhood of the traveling pants in little bursts until I got up at about 5:45am.

Anyway, none of this is interesting. I'm in India. Things that ARE interesting:

  • I went to mass this morning. It was all in Hindi, but it was a seriously soul-refreshing time for me (particularly after the fitful pseudo-sleep that had preceded it). According to my rough calculations the congregation was 77.777777% women. Interesting. They WERE celebrating International Women's Day (hurrah!), but still...?
  • We got to meet with sponsored families today. This is always nice, particularly when we get to visit people's homes. It is just good to BE in the community...this is why we do what we do. Certainly, we have to spend some time in offices and in meetings and coordinating things to make sure our programs work the right way. But being in the community is always the best.
  • I've been pretty discouraged over the past few days because there has been so much talk (and evidence...you can see it) about corruption in India. It's so ingrained in the culture, and it's so toxic. But today, I saw mothers getting excited about meeting together, taking loans to start livelihood projects, and making changes in their community...and it got me excited. It was really inspiring.
  • (I also have the privilege of working with some inspiring people.)
Okay, I think that's all. I'm sorry that my India blogs are so stream-of-consciousness...someday I really will get better about thinking things over and planning and crafting blog posts, but today is not that day.


Friday, March 13, 2009

in the airport!

I feel like my friends who frequently travel and blog from the airport. fun.

sooo...I'm still in Delhi, but we're getting ready to fly to the state of Bihar to spend some time at one of our projects there. I'm feeling pretty nauseated from the drive to the airport...stop/go crazy traffic and exhaust fumes. ugh. I'm looking forward to going to Bihar, though...a beautiful part of the country!

We spent most of yesterday doing interviews...unfortunately, I got super jet-lag-tired about 3 pm. Once we got back to the hotel at about 7:30pm, my coworker and I collapsed on the bed and fell asleep immediately. I woke up at about 10 or 10:30 to change and send a couple of texts, and then slept again until 6:30 this morning! magical!

anyway. Things are going fine, India is fine. I'm looking forward to this day of travel (we'll be on a train for a few hours this afternoon/evening) to hopefully read a little, listen to my audiobooks, maybe even knit! and of course nap. :)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

in india!

We arrived safely!

Got into Delhi last night...I had slept for most of the 15-hour flight. (seriously.) And then...fell asleep promptly at 11-ish pm. And then...woke up at 5 a.m. And I've been awake since then.

I took the necessary preparations prior to this trip to be more easily "in touch," so I have a cell phone that works AND an internet connection that I will be able to use for most of my trip...this makes a HUGE difference in my homesickness levels.

It's kind of nice to be back. We have a very busy and full trip! I am looking forward to going back to Jharkand and Bihar, and to knitting on the train, and visiting sponsored families...should be good.

I miss y'all...keep in touch...

Friday, March 6, 2009


I feel GOOD.

* this weather is absolutely unbelievable...I have never enjoyed being outside more in my ENTIRE LIFE.

* I'm leaving for India in 4 days, and I feel remarkably less stressed than I ever have before a trip. As far as work goes, I feel like I'm...ready?

* I have incorporated a Lenten practice into my...practice of Lent, and it has been really good. As Nate said last night, we just need a "restart" sometimes.

* I have also taken up the practice of looking at really beautiful blogs each day. beautiful images, inspiring design. it just puts me in a good frame of mind.


...I'll try to blog more while I'm in India.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

love it

"People who don't read piss me off." -david wayne reed