I got up early to do some washing as I have zero clothes to wear and I thought I might be needing some clean underpants very soon when the immodium wore off. This time Nix and I went on our own to the hospital and braced ourselves for dealing with hospital bureaucracy in a language we didn’t speak. We saw a doctor first who we explained my history to and he told us to go to Out Patients and get an Out Patients card. We couldn’t find Out Patients so we went to the ward I was in previously to ask for assistance. Our nurse from a couple of days back was on duty. Sadly as she didn’t speak English, her very lengthy directions were wasted on us. We followed in the general direction her finger was pointing.
When we finally found Out Patients the queue was already at least one hundred strong and the office still had twenty minutes before opening at 8am. Indians do not understand queuing. They just clump together in a large mass with zero space between people so nobody can tell who is first in line, all of which flies in the face of our Western notions about personal space. Within that clump many try to force their way in. A fight broke out between two guys for that reason. A security guard stepped in to reform the lines, but within a minute of his leaving the lines degenerated back into a large clump. I shook my head and laughed to myself. It was just like being in a train station, but with sick people. Nix was in the “ladies” clump, I was in the men’s. We thought this way we might have more chance of getting the necessary card more quickly.
As I stood in the men’s clump I was flanked on one side by a guy who sounded like he had tuberculosis coughing on me and everyone else in the vicinity, and on the other by a guy who picked his nose continuously and then insisted on repeatedly touching me with the offending hand. Both of them persistently pushed up close against me as is customary in Indian clumps. India is without a doubt the most disgusting place I have ever been to, and as a result the best place to learn to let go of aversion. However I told the guy coughing to put his hand over his mouth so nobody else got sick, and then mimed what I had just said. Miraculously he understood, as did the other people in the clump who nodded their heads in agreement. From thereon he covered his mouth. Now there’s a first. Perhaps it will take off in India.... Every waterfall starts with one drop ;)
To make matters worse the “queue” didn’t move when the office opened. We stood for another 20 minutes and moved about 1 foot. I communicated with Nix via cellphone as she was far off in another area of the clump, and I didn’t want to lose my place by going to her. She suggested she would go inside and find out what’s going on. 5 minutes later she came out waving a piece of paper. God bless you Nikki – you are a legend! She had the out patients card! She told me that there was only one computer working in the office and that the operator could only type with one finger, so she had jumped in (she must have been Indian in a past life) and asked for the out patients card. One of the nurses who had seen us in the ward 2 days ago was there and helped her get it. I wanted to kiss the ground Nix walked on, but then thought better of it. I’d probably pick up cholera and meningitis by doing so. It struck me that for a nation of IT boffins, the computer systems they have in place in India for their hospitals, railways, post offices etc are rubbish.
We eventually found the doctor’s office we were told to go to next. The doctor asked me what the problem was. I started to explain then asked him to have a look at the case history on his computer. He looked at me blankly. Evidently there was no case history. I couldn’t understand what this Out Patients card was for then – I thought it was necessary so he could refer to our case history. So we explained the history all over again. He started to write out a prescription for 5 days supply of a concoction of antibiotics. There are 3 sets of pills I have to take. They seem pretty hardcore – reminds me of a chlorine bomb for the pool! I’m already beginning to feel the side effects of 1 dose – dizziness, blurry vision and dry mouth.... Perhaps I am missing something here that is preventing the illness from departing. Perhaps something is working on a deeper level than I am aware of.