Friday, 10 April 2015

The Road Goes Ever On and On

My mother asked for the address of this blog, for an acquaintance. Having gone to some trouble to actually find the damn thing, I read through the posts and, I must confess, laughed heartily. Life moves at breakneck speed, and I tend to forget everything I don't write down. How lucky, then, that I recorded these blog posts!

Looking back, there is lots of pain, but also lots of joy. Staying at the Recoup clinic was in many ways a bizarre experience, but I look back only with fondness.

The blog ends abruptly in April 2011. It looks ominous; one wonders what happened to the writer. Was there a terrible accident? Did shoddy handwashing lead to a fatal outbreak of typhoid? Did the trauma from being tickled every day for three months lead to a mental breakdown?

Worry not! Here's what happened:


Me sweating outside the Charminar, in Hyderabad,
with my lovely (and totally non-sweaty) hostess.
I'm wearing my kurta, by the way. And my tiny jeans.
I went to Hyderabad! It was fantastic! I visited friends of my parents, who spent the whole day spoiling me rotten. We went to an interesting museum, and visited a temple, and had amazing food, and drank coffee with cardamom. I sweated profusely throughout.

The best meal of my life!
Although Hyderabad is a beautiful city, and my friends' parents showed me all around, what sticks to my memory is the food we had in the evening. I had chole bhature, and to this day I remember this meal as the best I have ever had! I'm not kidding. Just thinking about it makes me salivate.

I was also very pleased with the coach journey to and from Hyderabad. The coach was indeed air-conditioned, and I experienced some extremely interesting toilets along the way.

Leaving the clinic

Doing Jeshma's crazy exercises
 Towards the end of my visit, I could do this! My RSI pain was still present, but I was fit as hell, and on well my way to becoming more aware of my body, treating it kinder, and improving my posture. The staff at Recoup were all extremely knowledgeable, and always very, very kind. They taught me much.

Coming home

Yorkshire from the train
 When I came home, Yorkshire looked like this! I left in January, and returned in April, right around Easter. Yorkshire is beautiful in all seasons, but especially in spring!

I then devoted considerable energy to consuming inordinate amounts of beer and cheese.
(Don't get me wrong - I adore Indian food! I have been know to heave actual wistful sighs thinking about the food I was served in Bangalore. I just really missed beer and cheese while I was away.)

Then what?

I left Yorkshire three years ago, and moved back to Sweden. I have since occupied myself with getting a history degree, and studying to be a teacher. There have been many part-time and temporary jobs, but I'm well on my way to being a qualified teacher. Teaching is not only fun and intellectually stimulating, it is also an excellent way to avoid having one's joints and muscles going stiff from sitting on one's arse all day.

Every now and then I bump into someone who has similar pain problems to my own. I'm happy to think that I can offer - if it is wanted - the advice that I didn't get when I first got RSI. I run the RSI Action Facebook page (there is also a Twitter account), volunteer at a women's shelter, write my other blog, hang out with friends and family, drink the odd beer, and generally take care of myself and others as best I can.

The Recoup clinic didn't cure my RSI, and I don't believe there is a cure for what I've got. RSI will always be with me. However, it no longer troubles me. I have learned that there is such a thing as primary pain, and secondary pain. The primary pain I can do nothing about, but the secondary pain I can manage.

I still do Manjula's yoga programme every morning, and do the physio exercises I got from Jeshma and Nirav regularly. To be honest it's a pain in the arse getting up early to do yoga, but it keeps me strong, flexible, and reasonably sane. I go to yoga classes at the gym, which I enjoy hugely, and try to be aware of my breathing.

I try not to worry about things I can't do anything about. I try to find something in every situation that brings me joy, or if not joy, then wisdom.

I notice that I wrote on this blog that "there is a word for people who are tranquil, calm and joyful, and that word is annoying". 

I do my best to be annoying.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

10 April: Enforced Shopping and Devious Rickshaw-wallahs

My latest adventure included a trip to Brigade Road, and Cubbon Park. Brigade Road is apparently the hippest, most modern spot in Bangalore, and Cubbon Park is a park founded by some guy named Cubbon. Reghanna had instructed me to get on the G4 bus, which I duly did. No air conditioning, but all the windows and doors are open.  A British health-and-safety inspector would have a fit, but it’s lovely and breezy and very practical – the bus doesn’t have to stop for people to get on and off!

When I got off I was, as usual, trying to figure out which direction to walk in (a curse on the city planners for not putting up street signs!), when an auto-wallah came up to me and offered to show me where to go.  It did occur to me to be suspicious of a man persuading me to get into his vehicle, but I was disorientated and he was persuasive. When we were on our way, he gave me the business card of a shop in Infantry Road, saying. “Very good shop. I take you there”. At first I protested that I wanted to go to Brigade Road, not Infantry Road, but the guy said that all the shops in Brigade Road have been demolished to make way for the new metro, which is, to give him credit, at least partially true.
Tourist that I am, I quickly looked up Infantry Road on the map and found that it was very near Cubbon Park, where I also wanted to go, so I gave in. The auto-wallah stopped in front of a small, very nice-looking shop. At first I was reluctant to go in (I had had visions of a mall, and pizza!), but I thought sod it, I might as well now I’m here. I’m glad I went, as it was precisely the kind of tourist-trap shop I quite wanted to have a look in, but wouldn’t have found on my own!
I ended up spending a fortune in rupees, but fortunately the exchange rate is in one’s favour in these parts. The salesman was brilliant, using a lethal mixture of charm, flattery and delicious cinnamon- and saffron tea to get money out of me! If you find yourself in Infantry Road, Bangalore, be sure to visit New Heritage Collection, #12/2 Plain Street, Infantry Road!
The auto-wallah, who was obviously in league with a veritable army of shop owners, tried to take me to some more shops, but as I’d already spent a criminal amount of money I was firm and demanded to be taken straight to the park! He then pulled the “you decide how much to pay me” trick. Rickshaw-wallahs to this sometimes. They tell you that you can decide how much to pay, so you quote him a price that’s reasonable. He then looks outraged and insulted, as if you’d just spat on his mother’s grave. Unless you’re hard-hearted and streetwise, you are then forced to give him more money! Fair enough - I’d probably do the same if I were a moustachioed auto-wallah!
On a side note, I have once again come to the conclusion that it is just lovely to buy things, instead of being the one selling them, for a change!

In Cubbon Park I continued my march of triumph in the capacity of tourist attraction. Not as many people asked to take my picture as in Lalbagh though – maybe it’s because Cubbon Park is smaller? Oh, and I also ignored the hideous statue of Queen Victoria. Spurned it, in fact, and refused to take a picture.

Lovely flowers in Cubbon Park
I’ve got my tickets for my excursion to Hyderabad next weekend. The guy selling the tickets asked casually if I wanted AC or non-AC, to which I replied, frantically, “AC! AC! AC!” You don’t want to go on a 10-hour bus journey in India without air-conditioning! (I don’t, anyway.)

If there are any rabid anti-feminists among you you’ll be pleased to hear that I have doctor’s orders to do kitchen work! However, it’s not some 1950s-style brainwashing at play, merely a wish to see how I cope with everyday chores. Consequently I chopped some beans today in the kitchen, with all the Tiny Friendly Ladies giggling! When I stopped for a stretch break they all said "Pain?" sympatheitcally - they are so lovely!

Manjula and I do yoga on the roof terrace every day now, sometimes in the morning and sometimes at dusk. It's lovely up there! Manjula reacts to sunlight like a vampire - Indian women are very careful with their skin!

Nirav, he of the hilarious instructions (“Don’t let your scapulas go flip-flap!”), turns out to be an absolute hoot! He tells me crazy stories from his time doing an MA in Australia, and we swap anecdotes about chavs (or bogans, as they’re known Down Under). Who knew that spine manipulation could be so much fun!

Thank you, come again!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

3 April: The Market That Almost Was, and the Tiny Trousers

I suddenly realised that I look like an Uruk-Hai: Tall (the Alexander technique makes you taller), lean and with wild, straggly hair. Hobbits beware!

My goal today was to reach the old city silk market, and I can proudly state that I almost did!

I was lucky, as the bus I was aiming for arrived straight away, and what’s more, it was one of the snazzy Volvo buses! They have air-conditioning and play music (nice and loud, so you don’t miss anything). It’s expensive though – to go where I went, they charge 35 rupees for the privilege (as a price comparison, you can get a kilo of garlic for 60 rupees at the market, and a normal bus ticket costs about 12 rupees). On the other hand, it’s less crowded, and you can actually sit down. (It’s not too bad on the crowded buses either, though; Indian ladies with flowers in their hair are a lot less unpleasant to be squashed up against than greasy London commuters.) Getting off the bus and navigating out of the bus station, no mean feat in itself, I realised that a city map is only useful if there are street signs telling you what the roads are called! (Darren, I’m not saying I’m gonna stop complaining, but British street signage might possibly not be the worst in the world.) I managed all right (a nice man pointed me in the right direction), but I happened to find myself extremely confused right outside a police station, and asked a police man where I was. He told me where to go, but unfortunately failed to hide his scorn for lost tourists.
Despite scornful policemen and anonymous streets, however, I managed to move in the right direction, and actually found the market area! Though I didn’t find the actual silk market, I found the road that (apparently) leads to it, which isn’t bad for a lone blue-eyed Scandiwegian! The general market area goes on forever in every direction; you can buy everything from exquisite silks to nail clippers and human hair. I was far too disorientated to buy anything, apart from a couple of books. I’ve been craving Lord of the Rings lately (must be those random bursts of Old English translation I’ve been doing in a doomed attempt to keep in shape for Fil’s reading group), and I found it displayed alongside The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which somehow suited my mood perfectly: lost, filthy and utterly confused!

I needed a new pair of jeans, since all my trousers (well, let’s not allow our delusions of grandeur to get the better of us: both my trousers) are too big. I look quite sad, like a sweaty hobo, with my large trousers and mad hair, and I thought, the trousers at least I can do something about. So I stopped off at the new mall which has just opened near Gottigere, on my way home. Malls, in my opinion, are repulsive and obscene, and totally against my principles, but damn, was it nice to shop in an air-conditioned environment after spending an entire day sweating worse than the Dead Sea! Two super-polite sales assistants insisted on measuring me, and did a special trick with the measuring tape to check where my curves were (I didn’t think my arse was that subtle). Then they gave me tiny, tiny sizes to try on, which was very nice of them, even if I ended up asking for a larger size, that I could pull up further than my knee caps.
Made over-confident by the nice shop assistants and the tiny trousers, I then went to the shop where they sell traditional women’s clothes and was swiftly brought back to reality after getting my head stuck in in several kurtas. Note to self:  Indian women are v. small and slender!
After spending a whole day not seeing a single foreigner, I suddenly spotted a girl at the mall who was taller, blonder and cooler than me, and instantly hated her (I mean, how dare she?) – evidently I’m still not very Zen in my thinking, despite everyone’s best efforts.

One sees swastikas here and there on buildings, which is quite nice, as they’re clearly completely unconnected to homicidal German dictators with small-man syndrome. There’s even a Swastik General Store in Gottigere! The most amusing signs, though, at least to a Swede, are those advertising “Muthoot Finance”. Let’s hope they don’t launch in Scandinavia.

Several children called me “aunty” today. “Hello, aunty”, they said. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

Friday was a wondrous day; because it was April fool’s day, one of the trashy channels showed The Simpsons – ALL DAY! I enjoyed every minute, stopping just short of squealing with pleasure.

The Tiny Friendly Ladies are fed up with me saying “thank you” all the time, and have made it clear, without using a word of English, that they won’t tolerate this kind of behaviour any more. I am to learn to use at least the phrases “Have you had your food?” and “Yes thank you, I have” in Kannada if it kills me! So far I have mastered “Namas kara”, “hello”, because it sounds like “mascara”. (When you write your opus on Indian languages, Fil, I’m available to advise and caution.)

Regarding the treatment, the heavy artillery has been brought in: I’m getting more myofascial release treatment, administered by a lovely girl called Reghanna, since some trigger points sneakily returned when I wasn’t looking. I’m also getting sessions with a chap called Nirav. He looks for neck- and muscle imbalances, and apparently I’m a rich source of those. Nirav holds the distinction of having given me the funniest instruction I ever received: “Don’t let your scapulas go flip-flap!” (Unless my esteemed and mad father’s unforgettable statement that “It is impossible to overturn on a tandem bike if you’re going fast enough”, uttered while careering ahead uncontrollably on a tandem bike, counts as an instruction.)

Thank you, come again!

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

27 March: More Public Transport!

Today, armed with Jeena’s bus list (I hesitate to call it a bus timetable, since it lists no times, only which buses go where), I set off for the Lalbagh botanical gardens. It was quite exciting, because none of the buses listed in my bus list actually turned up, so finding the right bus required some agile leaping on and off vehicles, employing the trial-and-error method (that is, frantically asking every bus driver, “Lalbagh? Lalbagh?” until one nodded). I ended up in one of those old buses that I suspect were built pre-Independence. (To those of you who, like me, lazily estimate Indian independence to have taken place “sometime in the sixties”, it was in 1947, as every schoolchild knows. Manjula courteously corrected me on that one!) Like old bikes, old buses don’t look trendy, but they’re built to last! They’re pretty crowded, but luckily Indian women are partial to wearing flowers in their hair, so it’s a fragrant experience.
When I got to the botanical gardens, I discovered that I have become a tourist attraction – people kept asking to take pictures of me with their children! Bizarre! But I guess it’s preferable to people hiding their children from you, and muttering curses as you walk by. The gardens are well stocked with trees, sheltering you from the sun, so I had a pleasant time, ambling round and being photographed by strangers. (Maybe people think I’m famous? Maybe the fame of the Dolly Parton cover band has already spread, before it’s even started?) Eventually I caught a bus back home, acrobatically leaping on and narrowly avoiding being flattened by other buses and auto-rickshaws. This bus was pretty spacey. Not as spacey as the Volvo buses, which are without a doubt the coolest, spaciest buses in town, but spacey enough to have a display showing you which the next stop is, and an announcement, in two languages!
I returned to the clinic sweaty and covered in dust, as per usual. Oh, and I got some pretty fabulous pictures from the public toilets, which are going on the blog! (For those of you not familiar with the toilet blog you may, if you wish, get acquainted here: Darren, you might like the latest post!)

Lalbagh Botanical Gardens
After reading innumerable books on yoga, meditation and stress management, it suddenly struck me that there’s a word for people who are tranquil, calm and joyful, and that word is annoying!!! According to the Dalai Lama, all negative thoughts are harmful, but I would argue that it is equally harmful to suffer the company of people with inordinately large nostrils, for instance, or listen to certain pretentious gits droning on about Derrida. Do I have to give up thinking hateful thoughts about people who bore me rigid by talking at length about Freud in order to find inner peace? Philosophising on this naturally made me think of Bridget Jones, who is constantly failing to achieve inner poise. I can’t give you a quote on the subject, though, because I am temporarily Bridget-less – I have lent Bridget Jones to Manjula! I was a bit worried that she’d find Bridget bizarre (Mark Darcy did), but apparently she was reading it the other evening and giggled so much that her flatmate asked her what she was laughing at.

Moving away from inner poise, there is some exciting news: a new treadmill has been installed! It has an elevation function so you can run uphill, and programmes varying the speed so you don’t have to do it yourself. Also, importantly, it’s not child-sized, like the old one, so there’s less risk of falling off and getting your face caught in it. I’m working my way through the programmes and sweating profusely, even absurdly – it’s been incredibly hot! There is also a lovely pink exercise bike, which I use thoughtfully- apparently the Dalai Lama has an exercise bike, too!

It’s been so hot! To the point where you open the window in the morning, and instead of being cool and fresh outside, it’s as hot as the previous afternoon. Apparently this heat is freakish for Bangalore, where the temperature usually doesn’t go above 30 degrees. According to Jeena’s Bangalore guidebook, old people complain that the city has become hotter since industrialisation, and especially since the IT boom increased traffic a few years ago. It used to be a lot cooler; apparently the British moved their troops here in 1809 because of the cool climate, and actually 19th-century bungalows in Bangalore all have fireplaces. On a side note, Winston Churchill was a member of the Bangalore Club and owed it 13 rupees when he left in 1901. The sum was never paid, says the guidebook – what a rascal!
There was a brief respite from the heat when it rained on Friday night, and again on Saturday evening – it smelled lovely! It was cloudy Saturday morning, but Manjula had a sudden impulse to do yoga on the roof terrace, and the sun came out just as we were doing our Surya Namaskar, sun salutations! Cooool! It’s pretty cool on the roof terrace; you can see further than from the cafeteria, and you can see lots of birds! And I think I have figured out what the “eagles” are – kites ("glada" in Swedish)! At least the birds on the signs at the botanical gardens, which looked exactly the same, were labelled as kites. Aren’t you glad that’s cleared up?

The doctor reiterates that my trigger points are gone, but he wants me to stay an extra week so I can be strenghtened by Jeshma, stretched by Manjula and beaten black and blue by Ajeesh. So I'll be home round about Easter.

Dhanyavad, come again!

21 March: Hurrah! Adventure!

I ventured a bit further than the supermarket yesterday, and went to the Bannerghatta national park! I went on safari in a green bus which had metal mesh over the windows, to stop vicious carnivores from consuming the sweaty tourists within!
The safari started in the herbivore park, where Bambis grazed, and also gazelles, boar, and gigantic bison. Next we came to the bear park. If I believed in reincarnation I’d want to come back as one of those bears – they’re entirely vegetarian, and spend their time sitting on their arses, eating watermelons and honey.
After the bear park we came to lion territory! There were one-year-old cubs playing and frolicking! The lions, bears and tigers at Bannerghatta are not wild, having mostly been rescued from circuses and zoos, and other such inhumane institutions. They don’t hunt but sit on their arses and get fed punctually every day at 17:30. Still, they’re beautiful! Tigers are absolutely enormous! Since I was on my own I got to sit at the very front by the driver and guide, and had the best view. The guide helped me take pictures when the animals where on the wrong side of the bus. He also told me all about the animals, and extorted a tip from me at the end of the tour.
I wanted to go on what the park advertised as an “elephant joy ride”, but apparently the elephants were busy doing other things that day.

Lions at Bannerghatta National Park,
dreaming of sausages
A giant white tiger
The food truck turned up...and the bears were off!

Having got the bus back from the park, I walked back through the village – and was attacked by people smearing paint! The Holi festival was in full swing, and people were throwing paint left, right and centre! As I walked back people kept bursting out laughing (which may or may not have been due to my sweaty, paint-smeared appearance) and shouting “Happy Holi!"

Colourful people during Holi

 It turns out I’m even healthier than Mr Burns (apart, obviously from the usual crippling disability) – all my blood test results were completely normal. The doctor thinks that with some more rehab I should be able to do computer work for at least a few hours a day, and Ajeesh has licence to start beating me black and blue again. This is good news for future career plans: Sarah, I know there’s a shrine devoted to me at Millets (and quite rightly, too), but the long-term plan is still to get away from retail! Far, far, far away. (Providing, of course, that cripples are hot on the job market right now.) If all else fails I’m thinking maybe an all-female Elvis cover band. Or a Dolly Parton cover trio! I know Rox can sing and look fabulous at the same time, and Ruth, being super musical, can play the piano, harp and accordion (simultaneously?), and I could maybe bang two wooden spoons together.

I’m still trying to learn to relax enough to benefit from Manjula’s chakra meditation. It’s surprisingly difficult, but I found a most amusing guide to meditation in the library. Some excerpts from the introduction:

“The mind is thinking usefully about thinking and thinking: pondering about this, wondering about that, turning over assorted problems. Indulging in these suppositions gives the mind no rest.

(…) Instead it continues on its own way with mindful awareness lagging behind, unable to catch up. We almost manage to bring it in but then it slips away to (thoughts of) ‘America’, and upon following this we find it’s already back to ‘Thailand’ or ‘Germany’ and so on.

(…) Whatever, if the mind isn’t with the breath it’s off rambling and concocting.

(…) I would like you to bypass the affair of voices heard in this state. They sound a bit indistinct like over long distance telephone lines. You may actually seem to see and hear both local and distant conversations concerning yourself.

(…) The mind must be reprimanded and when necessary brought to order by intimidation. Such threats will leave the mind baffled and dazed and it can then be led back to the meditation object.”

(From Meditation by Dr Mohan Makkar Ph.D. (A.M.) and Dr Geeta (Naturopathy); introduction by Phra Acharn Plien Panyapatipo. Winsome Books India. Delhi, 2007.)

That's it for now, folks.

Thank you, come again!

13 March: Beaten Black and Blue

I’ve been telling Ajeesh about how, in my underwater rugby-playing youth, the nurses at the blood donation ward would stare in horror, when I came to give blood, at the bruises on my upper arms caused by my rather violent hobby, and ask if by any chance I was a victim of domestic violence. Ajeesh seemed to find this quite funny, giggling happily as he slapped my arms. The idea with nerve desensitization is to cause pain to the soft tissue along a nerve, in this case the ulnar nerve, thus desensitizing it. Unfortunately the only effect so far is to cause giant bruises. Personally I’m inclined to think bruising is to be expected when slapping the arm fairly vigorously for 5-10 minutes, but the doctor, at my consultation on Friday, looked a bit horrified and didn’t seem to think it was normal at all. Hence I am to have blood tests in case I have other, unrelated, medical problems. I am reminded of Mr Burns in the Simpsons episode where he goes to the world’s most expensive clinic to have his health checked, and it turns out he’s suffering from several fatal diseases at once, all of which cancel each other out, rendering him perfectly healthy.
I think my bruises are pretty cool and have been showing them off to everyone. Unfortunately when I showed them to Manjula, she was deeply shocked and had tears in her eyes, and then I felt guilty for being so insensitive! But Manjula says both she and her mum are praying for my arms, which is very nice of them!

I continue my wildlife-watching, Rapunzel-style through the window. I was very excited when I spotted a large, grey, weasel-type creature skulking around in the bushes outside, and Manjula told me it was a mongoose!  (I now feel like a top wildlife observer, like David Attenborough – am expecting a knighthood in the post any day!) If I didn’t suspect it of having rabies I’d go out and play with it and feed it grapes. I’ve been trying to tempt the birds to perch on my window-sill by leaving grapes on it, but they’re not interested, and there are now eight sun-dried raisins slowly decaying outside my window. There are some nice black-and-white birds, some rather comical tiny green ones, and stupid-looking large white ones, who follow the cows around. One of the cows has a tiny baby calf which is absolutely adorable, hopping around on unsteady legs!
 There are large birds of prey circling around, no doubt searching for weak-looking patients. Jeshma says they’re eagles, and she may well be right. My ornithological knowledge is very slight, and for all I know they might be hawks, sparrows, or tits, but they are certainly enormous. If they ever decide they fancy raisins for lunch I’ll take a picture; I won’t, however, plague you with the numerous pictures of distant out-of-focus black specks that I have taken so far. To continue this thrilling list of Indian fauna, there are also giant butterflies (titilli in Hindi – yoga is most educational!) flapping around, and dragonflies.

Bird of prey, on the look-out for cripples
I am now getting treatment from a nice lady called Jeena. She is normally in charge of the foreign patients, but she has been in Kerala opening a new clinic until now. Jeena likes cricket, wrestling and violent films. Bless her, she asked if I would like her to get me some beer! She also promised to get me a bus route guide so I can go on adventures! There’s a national park not too far away where I’d like to go, and take pictures of animals – perhaps elephants! (Elephants don’t have rabies, do they?)

 I had a wonderful day on Wednesday – I had three desserts! There was rice pudding for lunch, then one of the Tiny Friendly Ladies knocked on my door in the afternoon to give me a piece of cake, and in the evening the lovely housekeeper made me fruit salad! (Actually I think she’s worried that I’m getting too thin, and is trying to restore me to a more traditional shape – I’ve been getting a hell of a lot of fruit salad lately!) I told Ajeesh of my delight at getting rice pudding, which you get in Sweden at Christmas, and he explained that it is because it is a dish from Kerala. Because Kerala is on the west coast, it is where all the missionaries and traders ended up and consequently, apparently, European dishes originating in India are all from Kerala! (At least according to Ajeesh who is, like half the staff at the clinic, from Kerala.) Also, Ajeesh said, because there are so many missionaries opening schools left, right and centre, Kerala has a literacy rate of 100 percent. This made me think of Bede, and made me very annoyed. If only the Anglo-Saxons had stayed heathen and illiterate! (Of course one could argue that they have, but that’s a topic for another day, and a different level of sobriety.)

Thank you, come again!

6 March: Village Excitement, Unknown Herbal Product Excitement, and a Tragedy

I have sad news. One of the rabid dogs’ tiny puppies, the ones who like napping in the middle of the road, has entered the eternal rest, forever napping by the side of the road. Perhaps it’s for the best; there’s no lack of scrawny dogs eating only God knows what (or rather, I know exactly what: rubbish) and, in a Darwinian sense, napping in the middle of the road is not the cleverest of habits.

I went for my weekly supermarket pilgrimage today. On the way I was hailed by Yusuf, my favourite auto driver. He is nice and fleeces me slightly less than the other auto wallahs, and I always ask reception to call him if I need to go somewhere. Yusuf offered to drive me, but as I preferred walking I declined, thereby confirming his suspicions that I am off my rocker. However, these are kindly people, who accept that you’re off your rocker, and treat you with compassion.

Proving that life here is by no means lacking in excitement, a large car, driving very fast, decided to honk very loudly just as I was passing two cows and a dog. All three took fright and scattered in every direction, resulting in me getting very cosy with one of the cows, and forcing the driver to stop. Ha.

Ladies who lunch
I bought some interesting hibiscus tea at the supermarket. I’ll let you know if it turns out to have intoxicating properties. I also cleaned them out of their entire stock of sandalwood soap, which smells gorgeous. This may come in handy, as one of the many interesting effects of the spicy food is to make me smell like sweaty curry after (and to a large extent during) my morning runs. You have been warned.

I managed to top up my phone, with the help of a dodgy man in a phone shop. Unlike the dodgy man who sold me the phone, this one didn’t try to also sell me an enormous gas canister. I was almost disappointed – add-on sales are so important.

The treatment continues. The nerve desensitization remains painful. Jeshma now does lots of strength training with me – Arnold Schwarzenegger can go home. According to Jeshma, I have good core strength, which is good to hear as Manjula declared, when I arrived, that my lower abs were in shit state, and I’ve been doing lower ab exercises ever since. Apparently they have now paid off. The doctor is of the opinion that I am about 50 % rehabilitated, and I shouldn’t have to stay longer than three months – hurrah!

I have constant Bridget Jones déjà-vu, as people keep asking me if I’m married. I’m starting to feel like an immoral floozy, and worry about being eaten by Alsatians. I told Ajeesh about the amusing  visa registration form, and he explained earnestly that yes, in India a woman belongs either to her husband or her father. Tough luck on my father, say I. (He should have married me off when I was seventeen, had long blonde hair and was worth twenty camels.) I can at least take advantage of other people’s marriages; the other day we got dessert with lunch as it was Manjula’s parents’ 25th wedding anniversary – even though Manjula wasn’t even here! Also, there is an American tv programme which is amusing and repulsive in equal measure, called The Bachelorette (or The Bachelor, depending on whether the current season is about a repulsive woman choosing a husband from 25 repulsive men or the other way around). A physio called Robin and I are both fascinated by this concept and keep each other updated on the latest happenings. (I missed the episode where Matt from London chose which girl to marry as I had to go down for my doctor’s consultation, but luckily Robin could fill me in – he chose the vulgar one from California, whose mother had had so much plastic surgery done that she looked like an anorexic trout.)

That’s all for now.

Thank you, come again!