Withdrawal in Cochin


This started as a post about travel in India, but I realize, not being able to post it yesterday, that it is truly about addiction. (Ha.)

Yesterday was both miraculous and miserable. The night before was spent primarily in the miserable stage, unable to sleep because of nausea and worry – my GI tract was still–how shall I put it–fragile–and we were planning a plane trip South (from Ahmedabad to Cochin) which was going to involve a couple of flights and an hour and a half taxi–and even packing seemed impossible. (This was not only because of sickness but because my daughter had gotten presents for about 12 people including ourselves at a shop run and supplied by SEWA, her women’s workers collective, plus we had been given a huge assortment of gifts by various people who have helped her here.) We had gone, in other words, from traveling light to traveling jammed.

As I made myself get up and open the thick, seemingly metal-lined, curtains (designed to keep out heat) onto the bright light of Ahmedabad, breakfast was unthinkable and I succumbed, at the urging of both my near daughter –the one in the next bed–and far daughter–the one on the other side of the internet connection–to stumbling downstairs to the hotel lobby for a can of Coca Cola.

I had not prior to yesterday morning drunk an actual whole Coke for over forty years. (Disclosure – I did have some sips of coke visiting Mexico a few years ago at times when there was no choice by coke or mescal). But a whole coke! Truly it was only a drink I had in my childhood when at most we had very small glasses at the local pizza parlor or sometimes a small frosty bottle from a gas station machine (the kind with the rows of thick round bottle glass windows.)

On the other hand, I was, about thirty years ago, seriously addicted to diet sodas –Tab principally. It was a cola drink made by Coke with a strong dollop of fake lemon intended to overcome the taste of the saccharine. I drank liters a day at a point, but oddly was forced to give it up when I came to India the first time- – in 1982-83. They didn’t have fake sugar here then — and once I got that particular monkey off my back, I never let it back on.

But I was reeling and now even my husband on Skype was telling me to view it as medicine, and truly, i couldn’t imagine even a sick morning without caffeine (tea out of the question), so I gulped it down. Each sip felt great until its cloying end when my teeth could actually taste how sweet it was. Which meant that guzzling was the only option.

At any rate, the Coke enabled me to get moving and, between burps, shove stuff into the backpacks and suitcase (to be fair, my daughter was working too) but when I went down to the desk both to pay and engage in an endless discussion about what time to get the cab–for some reason, language really failed here–I found myself leaning heavily on the counter and wishing to settle down in a puddle of bowel and despair on the hotel’s probably cool tile floor. I apologized for seeming snappish, mentioning that I did not feel well, and the young very cute, and seemingly genuinely concerned clerk offered to get me some lemon juice in water. To my credit, I did not scream at him that this was not a problem that would be solved by lemon juice and that I absolutely did not want water.

Then when upstairs and got on skype again to see what i could do about changing our flights till the next day.

I called as if from the States but got an operator from a country who seemed to be from a country where she had received impeccable training in politeness, but not in Coke-fueled American-style desperation, meaning that she could not seem to understand why I would not wish to change a set of flights that was going to last a little over four hours for a set of flights that would last fifteen and a half. (Long waiting periods between multiple connections.)

Resolve suddenly stiffed both will and gut. Here’s where the miraculous part begins. Let’s just go, I told my daughter.

And so we did. Yes, with lapses – leaving a tip for room cleaners, but not managing to think of one for the very sweet girl who made us and any bags go through a metal detector every time we had entered our hotel–India is very big on the idea of security at the fancier hotels–making people and luggage repeatedly go through metal detectors but never in fact doing anything when they set them off.

Having also to go through airport security twice – there is a separate check for each flight even in the case of connecting flights. There were also, I must point out, three lines for men and only one for women and children, so that the men’s lines were about maximum 7-10 men long, but the women’s had to be several times reconfigured to avoid blocking the entire space. Separate lines are used because only women conduct the scanning and pat downs of women, and men the scanning and pat downs of men.

But we got here. Safe. Eruption free. And now, oddly, the true desperation kicked in.

My daughter had suggested that we stay in a well-reviewed but fairly budget hotel. I had had my eye on a hotel recommended by a friend which had a small but supposedly beautiful swimming pool, yoga classes, and very good bread, but whose price had gone up hugely since my friend stayed there.

We decided to try the budget option.

Well, it was very clean but also very spare, with, it turned out, no wifi.

Our room, which we got with A/C, due to the fact that it is very muggy here in Kerala and also rather mosquitoey, also had no true window. (Two narrow panels by the door, which because we are on the ground floor were covered with curtains and barred.)

A very intense overhead fan, which combined with the A/C, set my teeth chattering. (I think that may also have been due to fever.)

And that feeling that it really would be great to just vomit.

My daughter was also not feeling 100 percent, as they say.

Especially since I began worrying again about our family member in Afghanistan and went on a brief crying jag.

She was willing to move she kept saying. She’d move right now, if I want, she added, popping pepto. What about some Cipro? she suggested.

She is a trooper.

I did not take the Cipro but did calm down. We went out for a brief walk.

It was dark but one of those busy Internet cafe, juice, all kinds of batiky-Indian print clothing, Kashmiri shawls, backpackery sort of streets that could be anywhere from Kathmandu to Bali. Not un-nice, but a little aggressive when you are past backpackery age. We bought some soda water. Spending the big bucks for Perrier because the Indian ones all were bottled to be about half-full.

Honestly, the hotel was super clean. Spare but nicely appointed, and I soon realized that what is fundamentally bothering me is the lack of wifi. (Well, the lack of window.) But it was night now and the wifi would be my night window. My connection with MY world, and a bit of a shield, I guess, from this one.

And here’s where the addiction comes in. I have a beautiful beloved fantastic wonderful dear iPhone and it works even when there is no wifi, sort of, but even the cell reception wasn’t great, but it got email, and seemed to take a photo, and would I thought take a blog post. But when I typed it up on the WordPress App, feeling some of that craved whatever-it-is seep into my veins – slowly, just a squinted drip at a time, I thought, I could then be happy and cheerful.

But then the whole post was lost because it didn’t load right, and despair set in again.

I put on extra clothes to stop the shivering.

Things picked up around 1:00 AM when I realized there were office emails I could answer. And when people actually answered me back. You know, about contracts.

And I called my husband and he said I had to stop worrying so much.

And honestly, this morning felt almost okay. But when the very nice hotel man said that he did not have a room with a window (we’re not talking view, just window), we moved, and instead of going to the expensive place, saw another budget one touted by the guidebook as we went by in the auto rickshaw and have ended up here. The Delight Homestay, which has a lovely garden, and two windows in the A/C room! And wifi if I go sit outside and walk around looking for it.

The veins are pumping. The shakes have slowed.


PS – I am so sorry that I’ve not been able to return visits. I really appreciate your kind comments and visits and will make an effort to reciprocate.

PPS – Fort Cochin is in northern Kerala, and Kerala is in the southwest tip of India. I will write more in the next day or so. The people are very pleasant and courteous. Their features tend to be somewhat different from North Indians–they curly haired and have softer, more rounded features – to the degree you can say such a thing. It is about 30% Christian/20% Muslim, and I think the balance are Hindu (and maybe some Jains.) They speak Malayalam as the native language, but because this isolates them even within India –it is not, like Hindu, an Aryan language but has a whole different root system and alphabet–they tend to learn English as a second language, and use it quite well.

PPPS–there seem to be serious power issues in Cochin which means that although our hotel allegedly has internet and I’ve once been able to find a week signal, it is very intermittent. As a result, we have now gone to a very lovely Internet cafe which is, guess where, right next to our original hotel!

I am, however, supremely glad for the windows.

Below are pictures of boys playing field hockey and cricket in the large Parade Ground outside our new hotel.

Finally, I am sorry all the tenses get so messed up in these posts – interms of past/present. Reflects the way they are written and mymind state. Thaks for your patience.




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5 Comments on “Withdrawal in Cochin”

  1. brian miller Says:

    ha. i think you are still feeling the effects of your coke a bit…smiles…what a trip eh…sorry you daughter is ill though and hope that clears up…40 years between cokes….wow…glad i am not asked to do that with coffee…smiles. travel light k…

  2. ds Says:

    So sorry you and your daughter were ill. Glad to have you better & more relaxed. Can’t remember the last Coke I had, but was addicted for years to its diet version (and yes, Tab before that)…
    From Kashmir to Kerala, wow. Now you will know the whole of India.

  3. hedgewitch Says:

    Gah! Don’t be worrying and apologizing about not blog-visiting us over here, dear k–just concentrate on clearing your mind of anxiety and getting better. I do think you were right to change hotels though, if having no windows made you claustrophobic–and sometimes just doing *something* helps when everything feels out of control. It’s awful being ill in a foreign country, where you have so many other things to adjust to and deal with. Hope you feel better soon–and I am laughing about the coke–they are evil, but sometimes a necessity.

  4. Mama Zen Says:

    If one must have bowel trouble, one should at least have super fast internet!

    Hope you feel better soon!

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