Monday, January 18, 2016

Experience is the Best Teacher

When I lived in India I wrote a lot about the extreme sickness I experienced. There were days the pain was so intense I honestly thought I was dying. There weren't enough precautions I could take to avoid getting sick. Of course I know this is because I have a weakened immune system and there's more bacteria swarming in Amritsar than the average person could fend off anyway.

One thing that bothered me that I didn't talk about here was hubby's lack of understanding. I didn't discuss it because there was no blame. He grew up there, he couldn't possibly know why my body was in such shock from things that in his mind and life didn't matter.



Then he went back home to visit for the first time in 3 years. Despite the fact our foods are GMO and laced with chemicals and hormones here, he still was eating and living a lot cleaner than he ever had before. Plus, in this part of America there is virtually no pollution for him to deal with. His body had long since detoxed itself of all those things.

His first day back was not the blissful, glorious experience he had dreamt of to begin with. After a long flight he found himself in Delhi. He went to the same hotel we always went to together and they remembered him. They over charged him on his room and he got a quick refresher on Indian hospitality.

When he finally arrived home after a night in Delhi eating all the foods he was sure he had missed, he was greeted by his family who was ready to cook him anything, take him anywhere and spoil him as any good Punjabi family would. He felt like he was in heaven. At least briefly.

By day 3 he was so sick he told me he felt like he was dying. He described the pains to me, the symptoms, etc. and it was identical to how I had felt when I got sick there. He went to the same doctor he had taken me to - the one I wrote about being a quack - and again got initiated back into the corruption of Indian culture.

Dr. Quack ran all sorts of tests, gave him the same pills he's handed out to countless people over and over again and promptly told my husband he needed to be rushed into the critical care unit of a specific hospital right away. He told my husband he had heart blockages and that his blood pressure was high enough he needed serious medications and that he didn't recommend him coming back to the U.S.

Huge shocker there. My husband then saw another doctor who didn't share that same extreme diagnosis. He then saw a third doctor, the uneducated sardar doctor that I grew to love because he was the only doctor who ever made you feel better. Ironically, after one shot my husband was fine again for a few more days.At least until he had built up enough salt and grease in his diet to get sick again.

Getting sick wasn't the only problem that plagued hubby while he was there. He found he could no longer drive. He got on his motorcycle and started out down the street but found the chaos of people everywhere going every direction without concerns of on coming traffic scared him. So he lost his independence and had to get driven around.

Hubby also had to go through the tormenting mixed emotions of leaving Amritsar. A large part of his heart wanted to stay with his family. He wanted to be the spoiled Punjabi boy who's mom still cooked for him and who had little care/responsibility in life. The remainder of his heart also knew he had family here and a job and a life and a form of independence he could never have in India.

In the end he did get back on the plane. He did come back home. And we're happy to report his blood pressure has been normal to low (he checks it twice a day) and he's finally committed to leaving behind the oil-absorbed, salt-laden diet of his childhood.

The best part? Well, before he went back to India and had this experience he always talked about my time in India being blissful and happy and perfect. He always insisted things were so good for me there. Now, his eyes have been opened to just how much misery I dealt with just trying to get through each day. He know truly understands there was good and there was bad.

8 comments:

  1. I am in mumbai for 2 months at my inlaws with my 1 year old son (born and raised in the us, whereas i was born and raised in europe).it was my decision but every day i pray nothing happens to him. He is now sick and having bad cramps and I am telling everyone it is for the poor hygiene but they do not believe me nor will change their (nasty) habits. Like my mils rinses his milk bottles with tap water only and then put her fingers on the nipple while cutting unwashed veggies...and there are so many of these examples...people constantly putting their dirty fingers in his mouth and giving him any sort of things...there is only that much i can do to prevent; i can only pray...sorry for the vent but nobody understands me here (including my indian husband who is in the us now) and your post came at the right time...
    Love your blog
    Silvia

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    1. Poor baby! I understand just what you mean. It may seem innocent to them that they're touching his things and they may not even realize that unseen bacteria can linger on their fingers. I met with the same resistance you did. They couldn't understand that concept. They didn't realize that even though they weren't being unhygienic by their own standards, my body just wasn't ready for the germs and bacteria they were already immune to and extra precautions needed to be taken. Hopefully your son feels better soon.

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  2. Your hubby probably over ate out of excitement. It is a simple case of stomach upset which we nowdays fashionably call "food poisoning" to alarm people because it sounds trendy. I loved spicy food in my childhood, but if I try eating it today, I may not be able to handle it. It is a matter of practice. As far as the doctor is concerned, even small cities have good doctors, I can vouch for that. When we have an emergency in India which we cannot handle at home, we go straight to the casualty unit of a big hospital, we don't wait for the doctor. I think it is poor choice of doctors. Everyone knows which doctor to go to.

    I know that it is your personal experience as well as you husband's, but the impression that your post gives is:-

    (i) Indian doctors are all quacks, it is something that comes again and again in these blogs due to a few bad experiences with doctors. How come I never got treated by a bad doctor??

    (ii) Indians are unhygienic, as the lady above said, everyone knows that you have to boil the infant's bottle, I have never seen anyone rinsing milk bottles with tap water. Sorry, we don't do that. we are not unhygienic. Highest standards of hygiene is maintained for infants. Even Indian children are not immune to unhygienic conditions.

    I am sure there are many people who are going to get the same impression. They won't distinguish that experiences differ from family to family, city to city, community to community and from one economic strata to another.

    Apple

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    1. I'm not responsible for what people twist the meaning of my posts to. I only call one doctor a quack and I make it a point to call him out as a quack because he is. He's a sham and he promotes his western education to exploit those who don't know better. As a foreigner who knows what he's up to it is my duty to point out his behavior so other foreigners don't fall prey to this. I would expect you to do the same if you were to come to America and meet a quack here. It's your duty.

      Indians are not completely unhygienic however, compared to the standards we have in America and in European countries, they're far behind when it comes to preventing exposure to germs and bacteria. That's not an insult, it's a difference in the way of life. Whereas here there is almost a fear or aversion to anything that could have germs or bacteria, in India it's accepted they are there and people take other precautions against them. This works fine for Indians who get the anitbodies in their mothers milk as infants and grow up with enough exposure to build a tolerance. It is not okay for those of us who have had no exposure. Extra precautions must be taken and to blindly dismiss my and other foreigners experiences saying things like "everyone knows" is not productive. They may know, that doesn't mean they're actually taking those precautions. People can be lazy or dismissive. Some don't care and some are vindictive. It's human nature.

      If someone can't distinguish a blog post or a comment as one person experience, that makes them ignorant. It's their responsibility to know that if one person writes something, it is simply that, the writing of one person. I'm not a dictator over their lives and I don't ascertain that every single Indian does all these bad things, or even the good things. It's not my responsibility to add a disclaimer so my readers know that. I expect them to understand this is a blog. This is not a government website passing out definitive information that was researched by experts trained for decades on a specific topic. It's observations by one person into what I see of India. The only people who can change what I see are the Indians I interact with.

      I find you to be of reasonable intelligence so I know you understand these concepts. It shouldn't be hard to understand that if we have bad experiences in India, with an Indian, etc. we're not going to come out here and only post the travel guide version of how wonderful and colorful India is. It's misleading. Our experiences - good and bad have value. Anyone of reasonable intelligence would read this and know that there are risks and could use the information to make their stay in India better. They wouldn't look at these posts or comments and then determine they're never going to India etc.

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  3. The food shown above is typically Punjabi food and most importantly restaurant food, a once a while food. Even in Punjabis in Delhi do not eat that kind of food. If we eat that kind of food, we will be sick. It is poison.

    The food is representative but the impression one gets that all Indians eat that kind of spicy food.

    Apple

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    1. I agree this food is not to be eaten daily. My husband is still child-like in that aspect though. He would eat it for 5 meals a day if no one stopped him. I remember all too well how the tikki guy stood right by our door because he knew my husband was coming down every time he was there. My husband loves junk food and is addicted to fried, greasy food much to my dismay. I have gotten after him for years but it didn't change things and I know while he was in India that's all he ate was crap. Aloo parathas for breakfast - fine on their own but not with all the butter and chili's he adds, nor is it good to have so many like I know he did. Poori's and chana. Tikkis. Coke. Fried chicken. If it's bad for you, I know he ate it. That only made it worse because he hasn't eaten like that in the 3 years he's been here. I don't let him because I know he's only asking for an early death eating that way.

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  4. It is true that it varies from family to family but sorry, not true that the hygiene conditions are the same as in the us. Of course this is only a general comment as everyone has their own standards and there are several factors contributing to that but still for me it is a fact
    Silvia

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  5. I'm sorry to read that you had such terrible experiences in India. I hope someday you get to meet more diverse Indians with better hygiene practices and healthy diets. There are plenty of us within India and spread all over the world.

    Best regards
    J

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