Wingin’ It: Part 2

17 Jan

“How many motions have you had?”  the doctor asked Alaina (who has requested to be called Ida Emilia from now on) as he pressed on her stomach.  “Motions,” for those of you who don’t know, is how most Indians I know refer to bowel movements.  Loose motions, which Ida Emilia had been having since the night before, is the term for diarrhea.

Line to board the "ferry" in JanjiraAfter checking into the hotel and arranging for transportation, we headed to Janjira to visit the famous fort.  We read in Lonely Planet that we would have to buy a ticket for the ferry that would take us to the fort.  So, I imagined we would be on a vessel similar to the one that took us from Mumbai to Mandwa.  No, no.  The “ferry” in Janjira was a wooden boat with a capacity of 40-50 people, steered by two men with 12-foot bamboo poles and complete with a giant, tattered sail that slapped the faces of the dozen unlucky people who sat toward the center of the boat.

We climbed out of the boat, over another empty boat, and up the stairs.  The fort was impressive–the view of the sea and coastline was spectacular–but the structure had not been maintained.  It was practically in ruins and I wondered how long it would be before it could no longer sustain the number of visitors.  We could walk and sit anywhere we wanted, climb on anything, touch everything.  Nothing was forbidden.

“This would be a great place to do a photo shoot,” Ida Emilia commented.  “Yeah, America’s next top model should come here,” Andrea said.  “Yes!  Look, we can do some model poses on that thing,” Ida Emilia said, pointing to a crumbling, free-standing wall and some stairs.  The four of us were alone in that area of the fortress, but not for long.  Four white girls wearing shorts and mini-dresses striking ridiculous posing is bound to draw plenty of attention, and in this case, unwanted.

Within minutes, a group of 10 guys, who had been watching us, sent over three of their friends to ask for a photo with

Entrance to the fort

us.  As usual, we said no.  But they followed us and continued asking.  I was waiting for Andrea to slap them.  Earlier in the day, as we got out of the rickshaw in Janjira, a guy snapped our picture from only a few feet away.  Andrea approached him, slapped his arm, and yelled at him, “No pictures!”  The three guys at the fort finally relented and returned to their friends empty-handed.

We returned to the fort’s entrance to catch a boat back to the mainland, where we met our rickshaw driver. After a stop at a liquor shop in Murud for rum ($3.50 for a bottle!), Coke, and chocolate, we headed back to the “resort.”  What else do you do when you have two hours to kill before dinner, it’s dark, and there are no bars around?  After a failed attempt to nap, we called housekeeping for a bucket of ice, opened the bottle of rum, unwrapped the chocolate, and had a gab-fest in room 101.

Passing through the lobby on the way to dinner, we heard music blasting from the “disco room.”  “What’s going on in there?” Ida Emilia asked the manager.  A party.  We asked, “Private party? Or, can we go?”  He wobbled his head side-to-side. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

We went upstairs to the patio for dinner, and passed by the party room on the way out.  Still, music was blaring, so we went in.  No one was in there except for the DJ.  Kate went back to the room to shower; Andrea, Ida Emilia, and I decided to have our own dance party.  After some Sean Paul and Kylie Minogue, we requested “Sheila Ki Javani.”  That song attracted a few other people–mostly young couples and their children–from the resort.  They didn’t dance; they just sat in the chairs against the wall, so we continued, until the only people left in the room were the three of us and four 50+-year-old men watching us.

The dancing had distracted Ida Emilia from her stomach woes, but once we stopped and went back to the room, she began to feel worse.  The next morning, when she was so sick that she couldn’t even consider joining us at the beach, we asked the manager to call a doctor.

An hour and a half later, he arrived with a medicine bag and his four year old son in tow.  He began by taking Ida Emlia’s blood pressure and pressing on her stomach.  As he placed his stethoscope on her back, he asked, “How many motions have you had?”  Ida Emilia turned over.  “What?”  He repeated the question.  She looked at us, confused.  “He wants to know how many times you’ve been to the bathroom,” I said.

Having been in India for over three months and traveling quite a bit, I have come to realize that you cannot travel with someone if you are not comfortable talking to them about diarrhea.  The chances of getting sick while traveling are pretty high, and you better be with someone who is understanding, should you have to spend half the trip in the bathroom.

The doctor gave Ida Emilia some medicine and told her to take them after she ate.  “I cannot eat,” she said, “I don’t want to eat anything.”  “You’ll have to eat something to take the medicine,” the doctor warned.  “Veg only.  No chicken.  No spicy things.”  Thank you, Captain Obvious.  Ida Emilia began to cry.  Just the thought of having to eat was more than she could handle.  The doctor said nothing, then turned to me.  “Why is she crying?  What happened?”

I only know one person who got anywhere because of crying here.  When Andrea first moved to Mumbai, she met a woman who had a room to rent.  The woman had yet to decide whether or not she would give Andrea the room, but while visiting with her one day, Andrea began to cry, telling the woman how much she missed her mom.  Well, that sealed the deal, and the woman is now Andrea’s landlord.

Crying generally doesn’t go over well here, especially if you’re a woman crying to a man.  They don’t understand why we’re all so “emotional” and “upset.”  “She feels too sick to eat,” I explained to the doctor, since he no longer addressed Ida Emilia directly.  He handed me the medicine and explained that she should take one immediately and the others later in the day.  “Get her some coconut water for electrolytes,” he said, packed up this things, then left.

Kate, Andrea, and I arranged a late check out from the hotel, a rickshaw ride back to the ferry, and coconut water for Ida Emilia, then left her to sleep while we went to the beach.  Compared to Goa, the beach at Kashid was less crowded and the water bluer.  There were no hawkers nagging us while we lay in our hammocks under the shade of a thatched hut.  We had all put on our bikinis, then shorts and shirts to cover up for our walk to the beach.  Looking at the Indians playing in the sand and surf (we were the only foreigners), we quickly realized that taking off our cover-ups would not be wise.  Almost everyone–definitely every woman–was nearly fully clothed on the beach and in the water.  One man already had taken a picture of us lying in the hammocks.  Strutting onto the beach in only our bikinis would have been an invitation for loads of unwanted attention.

When Andrea told Kate and I that she was going into the sea to pee, Kate and I watched from our shaded seats to see how people would react to her.  She took off her shorts, but left on her T-shirt.  As she walked toward the water, she passed a group of six or seven men walking toward the hut.  They all stopped in their tracks, turned around, and watched her as she walked away from them.  Kate and I looked at each other and shook our heads.  Definitely not going in the water. And, I didn’t, until I had to pee, but I waited for the walk back to our hotel and chose a spot where almost no one else was around.

After a quick lunch at one of the guesthouses we had looked at the day before, we went back to the “resort” to check on Ida Emilia and pack.  We walked in to find five coconuts with straws lined up on the dresser.  I can’t even tell you how many times we stressed to the server that we wanted ONE coconut for the room.   There was no way Ida Emilia could still be deprived of electrolytes.  We went to the lobby to check out and pay our room bill and the doctor bill.  Four hundred rupees for the doctor to make a house-call, including the medicines.  That’s the equivalent of 10 USD.

The same rickshaw driver that took us to the fort the previous day also drove us back to the ferry in Mandwa.  Ida Emilia’s stomach held up pretty well and by the time we were on the ferry back to Mumbai, she began to feel hungry and ate some cookies.  She was the happiest sick person I knew.  If I had diarrhea for 24 hours on a beach vacation, I would not have been pleasant to be around, especially since I don’t like being around other people when I’m sick.  But, Ida Emilia was the most cheerful patient and wasn’t too upset about missing out on the beach time.  “I would rather be sick on vacation with all of you, than alone in my room in Mumbai.”

Ferry from Mandwa to Mumbai

Fort at Janjira

Inside the fort

Kashid Beach


One Response to “Wingin’ It: Part 2”

  1. Mom January 18, 2011 at 6:16 pm #

    Great read! Sounds like a wonderful time despite Alaina becoming sick-that could not have been easy for her. And thank you for affirming and eloquently stating that you are not pleasant to be around when you are sick. I would have chosen other colorful words to describe you as a patient, but the point is I have been vindicated!

    Miss you tons, love you more!

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