We’ve been struck by the friendliness of the people. Except for a few street vendors who overcharged us and a few taxi drivers who tried, we’ve been treated well. People have gone out of their way to welcome and help us. While waiting for Salim and his driver to pick us up, a woman approached and told us that she lived in the flat below us and had heard we had moved into the building. She’s a graduate student in Social Geography and was fascinated by our project. She’s arranging for us to meet her professors, whom she’s sure will be able to assist us in our work.
Bedisha, on the first floor, introduced herself to Jerri and invited us for breakfast. We were served a delicious Bengali meal. It may be a solely Western conceit to vary the meals—breakfast, lunch, dinner all seem to role into one here.
Bedisha has two maids, one of whom performed a ritual while we were in the apartment. She rang a continuous tone bell and waved incense while chanting, a daily routine not affected by our presence. Bedisha’s husband was working in another city and would only be home on weekends; this seems a standard practice. Aditya, their 2-year old son, had a penchant for drawing—everywhere. I guarded my pants.
Later that day, we had our first meal prepared by Tapoti, our cook. It was delicious but unfortunately, by that evening, Jerri was feeling ill. We’re fairly sure that it had to do with Tapoti not using filtered water when she prepared our food. I don’t think it was Bedisha’s doing. It definitely wasn’t Salim’s feast (they not only cook but do their dishes with filtered water.) I am astonished that clean water doesn’t seem to be a priority with the Indian government. They may have launched a satellite, but things are not well on the ground. The water is simply unsafe. I felt a bit queasy, but Jerri was miserable. She was far worse 2 years ago, where she was laid low for 5 days. Now, she was nauseous and wiped out, sleeping for hours. The next few days were spent dealing with that and with internet woes. We realized Jerri had to see a doctor. I called Dr. Mousimi Rao, recommended by the American consulate and asked if she spoke English. She replied “Yes. Why?” which took me aback. We had a very funny conversation that cemented the decision to see her. Plus, she was walking distance from our flat. 500 rupees later (less than $8!) Jerri was prescribed medication as well as a diet. The Republicans may insist America has the best health care system in the world, but clearly they haven’t traveled far.
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