One of the many ways India gets it right

Remember when I got bitten by a stray dog in India? Yeah, that was apparently the fun part.

At the time, managing to keep to my vaccine schedule was a small price to pay for, you know…surviving. I was able to get three of the five recommended shots while I was in India, which despite a less-than-enjoyable allergic reaction at one point, was not all that difficult to make happen. Show my prescription to a chemist, take the vial and sterile syringe to the hospital across the street for injection, pay about Rs 20 for the whole thing.

It was when I got back to the states that things got complicated. Rather, the healthcare system got complicated – my need for the shots, the actual medication – all that stayed exactly the same.

Complicating matters, I’ve been without insurance (gasp!) for almost a year now, what with the changing employment status and all. So when the bill came in at over $1,300 for the two shots I’d gotten in the States, I understandably balked.

Because no. Continue reading “One of the many ways India gets it right”

Wheels up

Time is a weird thing. Especially when you’re traversing the globe. On my way to India, I spent 24 hours on plane and zipped ahead in time a full 36 hours. On my way home, it will take just as long, but since I’m going the opposite direction, we’ll tick time off the clock each hour of the journey. I leave at 1a Mumbai time, arrive about 2p in the states, before my last connection.

As if India weren’t done proving its spirit to me, I had one last adventure in store as the porter at my hotel helped hail a cab to the airport for me. At first, no one would take the fare, the international airport is so far from South Mumbai. Of course, the cabbie who agreed pulled up in perhaps the most rusted out little sedan I’ve ever seen – each door seemed to be hanging on by a thread, and the car puttered itself to a stop in front of us.

At a flat Rs 500 ($10) rate, I shrugged my shoulders and hopped in. What more can you do but surrender to the whims of this place? Windows down, the last sights and sounds and smells of the city blew by me as we zipped north along the coast. I spotting the Haji Ali mosque as we drove, the place of worship that is its own island, accessible only at low tide. I hadn’t made it there in my own wandering – both the building and the solid stream of faithful walking the narrow path to it were lit with an amber glow under the city lights. I tried snapping a photo, but by then my little rust-bucket taxi had really picked up steam, so all I caught was a blur of lights.

I spent yesterday and today seeing more of the city – I walked the length of Marine Drive yesterday, and toured Gandhi’s Mumbai home. Both incredible. Being in a house where Gandhi spent so much time, seeing his workspace, his artifacts – it’s honestly not something I expected of this trip, but I won’t soon forget the experience.

It may be stating the obvious, but I won’t soon forget this entire experience. It’s been challenging and nerve-wracking and even scary at times. But it’s also been eye-opening, heart-swelling and more incredible and impressive than I could’ve imagined. I don’t know why we don’t do it more often – pack our bags, jump on a plane and see the world spinning from the other side. I think (I hope) that’s the most indelible part of this trip for me. I’ll carry with me when I’m back in the US the overwhelming sense of presence this trip have given me, the idea that at any given moment literally billions of people around the world are going about their business, too. Sometimes, they’re already on tomorrow while you’re still squeaking by today.

Some have asked if I feel different, if I’ve been inspired, if I find I’m particularly reflective as I prepare to put behind me so many memories and experiences that I spent years planning and imagining. I suppose the answer is yes. I suppose that’s why I travel – I know it changes me, I know I’m different for it.

How, exactly, I’m not sure I can say yet. I have an interesting couple of days, weeks, months ahead as I sort out where I’m headed next. I think when the dust settles on it all, I’ll be better able to say how all this has shaped me and my future. For now, I’m just grateful to have had it to do at all.

I will resort to bribery.

Hello, Internet? It’s me, Lisa.

I’ve honestly been having a blast with this return to blogging. This trip proved the perfect excuse to get back in the habit of writing a little bit every day. And as I hope you’ve been able to tell, I’ve been having fun with the recounting of my days, flexing the literary muscles that’ve been dormant far too long.

But I’m starting to get concerned. The comments you’ve left have been lovely to read, and I thank you for them! But surely there must be more of you reading, right? Or have my travel tales gotten so woefully redundant that you checked out long ago? Say it ain’t so!

To satisfy my fragile ego and remind me that you actually are there, reading along as I go, I’m going to do a little shameless giveaway. There are so many markets, bazaars and shops in India that I have acquired jewelry and trinkets I certainly don’t need to keep for myself. I want to share the bounty!

Simple enough – leave a comment just to convince me you’re out there, that all these words are meeting with someone’s eyes, and I’ll pick one of you lovelies at random to receive not just any trinket, but your very own Ganesh, god of beginnings, of removing obstacles, of so much more, I’m sure. If fate doesn’t have our paths crossing anytime soon, I’ll even drop this little idol in the mail so it finds you wherever you might be.

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So yes – I’m not above bribing you readers to make yourselves known. After all, if you’re not reading, I’m not sure why I’m writing!

Read the fascinating story about how the god with the elephant head came to be here.