We’ve nearly been here for 3 years now and we’ve become more tolerant of many things that are different from what we were used to when we lived in the West. BUT – the loss of privacy is something that still niggles away at me. Unless I’m in our apartment (and Mamta has finished for the day and no one is incessantly ringing the doorbell) then there is no escaping the stares. It’s most obvious when we’re stuck at traffic lights. The other day Harvey and I were sitting in the car at one set of lights which has a 120 second cycle and parked next to us was this tractor with 2 pairs of eyes staring at us without blinking. We tried our best for 60 seconds to ignore them but then Harvey had had enough so he started saying “nahi nahi” (no no) to them. I figured I might as well get a photo of them and thought maybe it might embarrass them, but they seemed to love it – at least the one behind the wheel did. His mate seemed to be trying to process what planet we were from!!…
At least that only lasted for 120 seconds!! On Saturday I went for a full medical check up. They’re readily available here as a preventative thing and of course are so much cheaper than in other countries so it seems crazy not to do it annually. Having said that it’s the first one I’ve had so it seems I’m a bit slow on the uptake. Anyway – the lack of privacy started right at the front desk. I turned up at opening time and already there were quite a few people waiting. The reception guy asks me all sorts of personal questions and the other patients are standing right in my invisible ring of personal space staring at my details on the form. I almost asked them if they’d like to see the samples I’d brought with me too but thought that was a little inappropriate! After giving the reception guy my details 3 times (he lost them twice in his system) I asked him where I should take my samples and he vaguely pointed to a lab room. I went in there and asked the technician where I should put them. He pointed to a desk and just turned around to return to his solitaire game on his screen. I nearly lost it right there but held it together and suggested it might be good practice to put a label on the jars so it was clear who the samples belonged to!!
Then it was 4 hours of being shuffled (actually quite efficiently) from room to room for various tests. I think I had to unrobe about 10 times and without fail everytime someone would open the door while I was partially uncovered. It was just hilarious in the end. What else can you do but laugh?? One of the funniest things was while I was having the treadmill test. I had leads stuck all over my chest and was hooked up to a really cool screen that showed all my heart rhythms and BP etc. There on the wall in front of me were the instructions for the doctor re how to perform the test. I clearly saw that there were 4 levels of about 5min each and each level increased the speed and incline of the treadmill. I was doing fine and kind of enjoying it but after 30 mins and being launched into level 7 I was starting to sweat quite a lot and was beginning to wonder why the doctor had called his colleague and nurse in to take a look. I asked if there was a problem and he said “no madam. We’ve never seen anyone go this far on the machine before and we are just wondering how far the machine can do.”. I politely suggested that I’m not a guinea pig and that I was really hot so his colleague agreed to end the test there.
Harvey had a good birthday last week. No official party this year because basically I don’t think he needs one every year but he did have a great day playing with his mates who were all on holidays just like him. Then last Tuesday we went to the village school for a celebration. Poonam ma’am always remembers our birthdays and she had insisted we come together to have a little party for him. We took along an enormous cake only to find that a lot of the kids were away so those who were there got a mighty good feed and we also took a lot out to the construction workers. Harvey’s best mate there, Abishek, disappeared for 10 minutes and then came back with a packet of chocolates for him. Goodness knows what percentage of his family’s daily income went on that but it was pretty special…..
During the last week of H’s school holidays he attended a winter art/activity club at a new club for kids and mums. He had a great time…..
It was amazing that my friend Kristy & I even found the place. She had heard about it and on the flyer they had given out it said that it was very close to her apartment. So one day in the previous week we went for a walk in her area of the city to find it. Two white women and 5 white kids. We attracted quite a lot of attention while we walked from block to block. After about 20 mins we were about to give up when there was a guard standing outside a building right next to us. We told him the name of the club we were searching for and he said he didn’t know it. Then he turned around to talk to someone and right there on the gate behind him (ie the gate of the house he was guarding) was the name of the club!!! Anyway – it all ended well and best of all we got to walk around the neighbourhood a bit and remember what it was like to have freedom!!