22 March 2009

Shanghaied in India, or When Food Poisoning Is Your Friend

Holy crap! How did a whole week go by without me posting anything? Actually, that's a rhetorical question. I have been BIZ!EE! Um, and I was sort of kind of abducted, though more in an annoyingly frustrating way than a real sinister and scary kind of way, but I'll get to that in a bit.

After a relatively easy first few days trying to pull things together to start doing some spays and neuters, we got to a slightly slowish start on Monday. We did one neuter on an old dog who is usually hanging out around the lake, and I spayed this little cutie:


She looks very happy-go-lucky, but she took some serious drugs to get her through surgery - easily enough for a dog three times her size. Since she didn't have a name already, Nyondo started calling her Amy, after Amy Winehouse. Partly because we were worried about her and partly because she was so damned cute, we kept her with us for two nights just to make sure she was doing okay before she went back to the farm family who take care of her (They didn't have a name for her, either).

The next two days went quite well, not in small part because of the assistance I got from a young and very intelligent surgeon named Naresh that the district veterinary office sent over. Something like 99% of the veterinarians in this state are employed by the government, but Naresh's talent is, quite frankly, wasted at this level, and I tried to encourage him to look for postgraduate opportunities abroad. Here we are discussing something or other (Notice those styling new glasses I'm wearing? Got them in Delhi for about $81):


Anyway, about the whole abduction thing - remember back when I met with district officials and had to drink the water? Well, one of them decided that I needed to go to his hometown and do some surgeries there, as well. And it wasn't really given to me as an optional thing. We were hopeful when said official didn't show up for the three days we were doing surgeries here, but on Thursday morning we got a call that he was coming to town to kidnap take us to his town, which although larger than Riwalsar, is considerably more off the beaten path and not someplace that westerners really go.

Nonetheless, Nyondo accompanied me to act as both interpreter and advocate to make sure my abduction wasn't permanent, I did a few surgeries and determined that the veterinarian at that office had no desire to change how he did anything (which was scary, to say the least), and then we were put up for the night in a government rest house. After being dragged back down into town by one of the lackeys for an "impromptu" photo op with a local politician, whose degree of involvement in all of this was very unclear and who seemed quite pleasant.

The rest house, though designed to accommodate members of the government and their guests, was pretty typical Indian-style. The bed was basically a thin batting mattress on a plywood sheet with a thin sheet on top. Fortunately, I poked around in the closet and found a couple of thick wool blankets and comforters. And then, because it's been a point of interest on this trip, I took some photos of the bathroom. Here's the toilet:


See the wings on the sides? That's in case you prefer to use it squat-style, and is also the style of toilet Nyondo, et al., have here. See the toilet paper? No? It's that pitcher sitting on the little stool by the toilet. We're talking about serious Indian-style accommodations, and with no soap. At least the water was warm and there were towels, though we had to ask for those, and there was a bar of soap at the sink in the dining area, so that you could clean well before eating.

And this is the shower area:


Don't see the shower head? It's that bucket down on the floor. Oh and you say you'd like to see what's going on with the window?


Which is, apparently, why there was a big deadbolt on the bedroom side of the bathroom door. But at least there was hot water.

The next morning I woke up with a touch of apparent food poisoning. Not severe enough to make me really sick, but certainly enough to give us an excuse to book it out of town as quickly as we could, which meant around 11AM. After we got back, I had a nice hot shower, changed into a dhoti, and finally relaxed for a bit. This weekend has been all about monitoring the dogs who'd had surgery, more relaxing, and doing a bit of shopping before we leave.

Natural Phenomena

Not everything around here has been about political intrigue and dog surgeries. We've also been watching brush fires burn on one hill...


...or another...


...welcoming some much needed rain...


...and keeping the monkeys from coming in the apartment and wreaking havoc.



Of course, one of the great things about being in a place like this is the people you get to meet. There have been quite a number of them, but one of the most memorable has been a young Tibetan monk named Sonam. Nyondo and wives describe him as "clinically happy", and he seems to be infectiously so. He only managed to escape Tibet after at least one attempt in which he was caught by the Chinese, jailed, and tortured. In addition to that, he contracted polio at some point, which has left him with some leg deformity but certainly has not slowed him down much or done anything dampen his optimism. Here he is with the local Sikh guru looking at some photos of a hike the two of them recently took to one of the mountaintops.


Today when I went down into town to walk around and check on the dogs, I found him at a local cafe with Martin, an ex-pat from the Isle of Jersey, and a visiting Aussie (whose name I don't know). When I found them, Sonam was going through the "Groom Wanted" ads to make a prank phone call.


Cheeky monk! I'm not quite certain how Martin was managing to drink his tea without spewing it all over the place.


Carol said...

So am I to understand that men in India also have the annoying habit of leaving the toilet seat up??

Sheepish Annie said...

I don't suppose I ever thought of monks as being on cell phones and making crank calls. See how you are educating me in the ways of the other cultures? Between the toilets, the monks and the monkeys, I feel quite international!

Lisa/knitnzu said...

Yikes, what adventure! The flared wings on the toilet took me a minute to realize they're for your FEET. Many women in the US (and I'm imagining quite a few men too) can tell you that it is very much do-able to squat over a western toilet without standing on the thing.

How many wives does Nyondo have?

A monk making prank calls! That is so hilarious.

JelliDonut said...

"Clinically happy..." I love that!

Luuworld said...

you're a vet. that explains why you knew about the vet school in oslo!

nice pics. i envy that whole traveling around bit: seeing wonderful and weird new things and meeting people.

Sam said...

Sounds like you are having a fine, action-packed time! I've never seen one of those squat pads lifted up to the western-style toilet height.

tornwordo said...

What a fascinating/educational experience for you and all of us too! I love the toilet lesson, but you knew I would. Enjoy your last couple of days there!