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28 October 2005

a wall to the face

yesterday evening as i was eating my chicken curry rice and sipping my freshly squeezed delicious orange juice, an internal shock hit me like a wall to the face when i remembered...

[!CRACK!] the third twinrix vaccination for hepatitis a and b.

three shots are required: the first at time zero, the second at time zero plus one month, and the third at time zero plus six months. i received the first vaccination in february and the second in march. the nurse at the travel clinic in boston had recommended getting the third in june when i returned to the states for the wedding even though only four and a half months would have elapsed since the first shot. in june i visited a clinic in north carolina but the nurse refused to give me the shot because the full six months hadn't elapsed. grr. fine. i'd planned to get the shot somewhere in europe. and somehow this very important thing had completely slipped my mind... until last night while i was eating in india. [!CRACK!]

i went to sleep last night planning my missions for today, disappointed that much of the day would be consumed with admin duties.

01. locate an appropriate medical facility and get the third twinrix shot.

02. go to air india and book my flight from delhi to bangkok.

03. search for a replacement memory module for my computer; if one could not be located, ship the computer to the states via dhl.

04. call sujata's parents.

my hotel room is directly next to the reception area and so the phone and doorbell are regular sleep killers. i woke up at 0500... not sure if an outside noise had shocked me awake or whether my body was still operating in the old time zone. i think it was the latter. i couldn't get back to sleep and decided to do some mission research in my india guidebook. perfect. two medical facilities were mentioned... bombay hospital and breach candy hospital. breach candy: 'best in mumbai, if not india'. ding ding. the guidebook also specified the location of the dhl shipping office, so if i wasn't able to locate a memory module, i'd be heading there. unfortunately, no computer stores were specified.

i laid in bed until 0800 and then called breach candy hospital using my treo [digression: i bought an orange brand sim card from a store very close to my hotel. rs300 (about 7 usd) with rs330 of credit. i didn't notice it at the time but i'm almost positive the sim card kit had already been opened. the man was very slick to conceal the traces while 'opening' the package in front of me. the card works and has the promised rs330 of credit, but the credit expires in only four days. not a problem... i figured i'd be using up the credit by then regardless. still... i'll be more careful next time. end digression.]. i was transferred to the opd department of the hospital and made an appointment to see dr. rohit barman at 1500. perfect. that gave me some time to take care of the other missions.

i got dressed and was out before 0900, grabbed some breakfast at leopold, and was on my way to the air india office. i had spoken with two people who told me the names and locations of a few computer stores... i'd be passing them along the way. unfortunately, upon arrival i discovered that they didn't have what i needed, so onward to air india.

i located the office after a few wrong turns. the flight that i'd been trying to book online was strangely not available from the ticketing agent's terminal. i'd need to take a flight that left at 0555... a little earlier than i'd have liked, but i didn't have an alternative. fine. the agent began entering my passport details into the computer... more typing... more typing... [what the hell is going on?]...

'when are you coming back to india?'

'i'm planning to take overland transportation into laos and vietnam.'

'with an american passport, you need to have proof of onward journey before i can issue this ticket.'

damn. mission: failed. i didn't think i'd be able to get a thai train ticket as proof i'd be leaving the country. i'd need to book my singapore -> australia ticket and hope that that proved that i had no intentions of becoming a foreign leech in thailand. the agent gave me a reference number to hold the fare.

on to dhl. i hoped that they'd have packing materials there. i find the shipping process very burdensome... locating and purchasing packing materials is never as easy as it seems... packing up the item... blah. not fun. fortunately, the woman told me that they would pack the item for me as i watched. okay. 'i'm sending a laptop computer. it has to be packed extremely well.' i micromanaged every aspect of the process... making sure the computer was double boxed and adequately padded to my satisfaction. done. six thousand. two hundred. fifty-nine rupees. [wow]. mission accomplished.

by the time i'd finished with dhl it was after 1300... i had a few hours to locate the hospital. planned to walk it. down along the water... lots of walking.... 1400... i was on track... 1430... almost there... 1445... shit, i'm not going to get there in time. i spent rs40 on a taxi to take me the last few minutes. the waiting room was completely packed... i was very glad that i'd made an appointment. i checked in and two minutes later was back in the doctor's office. dr. barman told me that the hospital didn't normally stock the twinrix vaccine but that he'd ordered it especially for me. i knew this was a reputable hospital but was still planning to ask him to show me the sterile packaged syringe. before i could say anything, he held up the packaged twinrix kit and showed me that the kit came with its own syringe. a quick sting and rs1600 later, i was on my way. mission accomplished.

mumbai is filled with black and yellow taxis. a few look like they've been well taken care of and some are even decked out with neon lights and decals. most of the taxis however are falling apart... literally. as i walked out of the hospital, i saw a long strip of metal fall off the door of a taxi as it sped away. i broke out my camera to take a picture of the metal lying on the street (with intentions of illustrating the above point here in the blog) and just as i was about to snap the picture, a boy rode up on a bike, saw the piece of metal, stopped, and picked it up. he gave it a once over and then folded it up several times and put it in the basket on the back of his bike and rode away. wow. talk about efficient recycling.

taxi back to the hotel, gave sujata's parents a call, and made plans to meet her father at a mall by their apartment. another taxi... one hour of intense mumbai traffic... arrival. her parents and aunt were _so_ incredibly nice. not only did they take me out to dinner but they gave me gifts. her dad took me out for an autorickshaw tour of the area and later bought me some indian candy from a nearby shop. great experience. [thank you so much!]

it was dark by the time i got into the return taxi. the traffic was still heavy but not nearly as bad as during ride out... 45 minutes later i was back at the hotel. what a long intense day. i think every day in mumbai will be intense.

posted by paul on Fri 28 Oct 2005 at 00:00:00 est (-05:00)


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