A post from the AVP

What with all the massages, concoctions and whatnot that I’ve been ingesting in one form or another, I’m through the main part of my treatment at AVP. Comparing notes with some others who’ve been here before, I think I’ve had an easy time of it mostly.

My days tend to be quite easy, if a bit dull here. Usually my alarm wakes me up at 6 and eventually, I shrug off the covers by 7:45 and blearily stare out at my 3 by 3 meter room. I step outside with a bottle of water, and stand in the corridor gazing out at the greenery outside, gulping occasionally as I struggle to shake off the sleepiness. My 6am meds (which I’m supposed to take upon waking) are just outside the door, and I pick them up as I walk back in. I unwrap the paper cover on the small paper cup and stare at the black liquid wondering whether this one will be sweet and disgusting or just bitter and disgusting. Waiting only prolongs the pain. I gulp it down on one go. Today’s dose did not have any sediment mercifully. Otherwise, I’d have to pour some water and wash that down again. I shudder at the disgusting taste and take a big gulp of water and swirl it around my mouth to wash the taste out. It helps a bit.

That ritual complete, I notice the tea thermos on the table. I’ll have that in 30 mins, I promise myself. Taking my Kindle, I drag the chair outside my door and pull it up into the verandah to be in the light. There’s no direct sunlight here, but it’s bright enough to read. I’m reading a sci-fi novel about some spaceship being shot up. It’s well written with the world building incorporating some interesting backgrounds. I’m not sure if I enjoy the tone where the author’s trying to inform me about the history and story of the various players. It could be done better. So, a good author who needs some work on the telling. The dialogue is good, and it doesn’t feel jerky, or jarring; good flow. I get the story so far and I’m getting a feel of some of the characters, others seem somewhat flat. I guess that’s another area the author’s got to work with. I mean if you’re stuck close to some of the characters you expect to get some depth even if they’re in a supporting role.

“Excuse me, sir. Room cleaning?” That sounded like a question. I looked up to see a warm smile on a woman dressed in an ochre yellow sari. Her hair’s in a long braid and she’s carrying a broom in one hand, wearing an checked apron. I nod and smile gratefully, “Please!” She nods and heads towards my room. She comes back in a few minutes and asks, “Bed sheet changing?” I smile and politely decline. It was changed yesterday and they seem to change them on alternate days.  I wondered about that at first, but with the quantity of medicated oil and the powders they put in my hair, every pillow ends up looking and smelling quite ugly. I flip it every morning.

Remembering the tea, I head back to the room. No paper cups around. I dail the canteen and they promise to send some shortly. I see the breakfast guys bringing the trays, but no one’s brought any cups. They smile and say hello as they pass by. One of the boys is curious about the kindle and points asking what it is. I tell him its a book reader. Since he speaks Tamil and only a few words in English, we have a tough time understanding each other. He smiles and shrugs and I remember only too late that I wanted those paper cups. I remember to ask at the end of his rounds.

I settle down for my morning tea at the desk in my room. One spoon of sugar to one cup of tea is the ratio that works best for me. I open up a pack of rusks and dip them in the hot tea. They’re yummy and I can’t get enough of them. I’m rationing myself to half a pack in the morning and the rest for the aternoon tea. I’ve noticed that I’m not hungry for dinner otherwise.

The nurse drops in shortly after to check my blood pressure. 120/80. Normal, she says. She’s been doing this for the last 3 weeks and I don’t even know her name! Shortly after comes the 10 am medicine (disgusting stuff with sediment that I have to wash a few times) followed by Dr. Dilip. He beams my way and settles into the chair, checks my pulse. “You’re glowing today. Have you taken the purgation?” I smile and thank him, and reply in the negative. Purgation means, the shits. I’m supposed to down a huge dose of some sort of laxative that’ll render me helpless with the case of “purgation” for the whole day. He dails the pharmacy and informs them of the update. I guess it’s coming so best take it with a smile.

I’m looking forward to the soup. That comes around noon followed a few minutes later by some papad and buttermilk. Surprisingly the buttermilk’s a bit salty today. Yum. I also bag an extra papad. I miss the salty taste. Around 1 lunch arrives. It’s 4 or 5 veggies in small metal bowls and a plate with 2 chapatis. I’ve worked out that I don’t much enjoy rice in the afternoons. After working through that I sit down to read some more or walk a bit.

Karnagar arrives at 2:45 pm and smiles in greeting. At 58, he still has a shock of black hair and a short stubble on his jaw. He’s got a mustache, typical of most males in India. He’s suprisingly tall for a South Indian. He walks over to the storage cupboard and pulls out the langoti and some towels. I know the drill. I pick up fresh underwear and a t-shirt. It’s bath time!

Bath time for me is an oil massage followed by a bath with some medicated water. I step into the massage room and Karnagar’s started with the gas burner to heat up the oil, I take off my shirt and he steps up to me with the langoti ( a two layered cloth with the borders torn so he can tie it around my waist) and I step out of my shorts and underwear. He ties it around my waist and I turn he pulls the cloth hanging between my  knees and tucks it into the waist at my back. I’ve grown accustomed to the routine, so I step up to the massage table without further prompting and sit facing the wall. He opens up the oil jar and empties a generous quanity into his palm and then proceeds to rub it into my hair, massaging it into my scalp and rubs a bit of it into my forehead, my cheeks and my jaw. I lie down on my back. Next comes the abdomen rub where he massages the oil into my chest and belly, followed by each limb. His hands are callused and a bit rough and heavy. I close my eyes and Karnagar continues with the massage. He’s done in about 20 mins or so. I flip on to my stomach and he rubs the back of my legs, and arms and focuses on my lower back. Another 10 minutes and I get up and head to the showers, peeling off the langoti.

Karnagar douses me with a few pails of water. He’s made a paste from the bath powder that he’d picked up in my room. It’s muddy brown and smells of some sprouts. He rubs the coarse mixture onto my back then my chest, arms and legs and finally my head. He pours some of that paste into my hand and I rub it into my groin and buttocks. He uses a different bucket with medicated water to wet and later rinse my head. Handing me the pail to continue with the washing he steps out to clean the massage table. Now, I’ve got to wash off this paste which takes quite a bit of the oil with it, leaving a reddish foam on the drain. I wash and wipe myself down with a rough towel, which takes away some more the oil, but not completely. That’s part of the procedure. Some oil gets left behind to nourish my body till my next bath.

I step into the massage room and Karnagar’s ready with some brown powder in his palm. With one hand he rubs into into my hair and then taking a pinch stuffs into my nostrils for me to inhale. I inhale and cough a bit then move to the corner to dress. It’s back to the room for a 30 min rest where I lie down and let the massage’s effect continue.

I have my afternoon cup of tea after followed by visit from doctor  in charge of my floor. I usually give them an update on how I’m feeling, which is usually good. More medication for 6pm. Also disgusting. Then Dinner betwen 7 and 8 and then it’s more reading until I decide to fall asleep. Some medication before bedtime so I can sleep and dream sweet dreams with a foul taste in my mouth.

Man, I’m drained just writing about it. But as you can see, pretty uneventful. So I’m reading loads and trying to get into some activities, like email, phones or just simple research. But more on that bit another time. It’s time for my lunch!

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