We had our first visit to the hospital in India this week. Mike has been feeling off, at times with an elevated heart beat and a bit of dizziness. Because of the racing heart we thought it was important to get it checked out.
Taking Mike to a hospital is an adventure in itself.
One doctor took him onto a ward to lie down while another motioned me over, presumably to give pertinent medical information.
“You are from?” she asks.
“US,” I answer.
“And is this,” she waves a hand at Mike’s retreating back, “a normal size for people there?”
I don’t want to use the word abnormal, so I answer, “No, uh yes, I mean, he’s considered tall there.”
“And is the condition hereditary?” she inquires.
“Yes,” I respond, “He has four brothers and they are all tall– but he is the tallest.”
Once we had that sorted the medical examination could begin.
Let me help you envision what Mike looked like on the ward bed:
To be fair, he does not fit in hospital beds in the US either.
The doctors were all fantastic. They had a mobile ECG machine to take his vitals, did a quick jab for blood sugar (levels were low) and then gave him an IV of glucose. The consensus was that maybe it is a touch of vertigo, but probably more so that the heat is hitting him a little harder than the rest of us. We followed up with Dr. Krishna from the University on Thursday. He agreed that it wasn’t his heart but likely an inner ear issue with dehydration. Mike has been taking it easy since, staying cool when possible, and watching his water and electrolyte intake. The good news is that we now know a hospital in the neighborhood if we need one in an emergency. We paid out of pocket for these services to the tune of $19.
On Saturday we went early to the Thiruvananthapuram Zoo, which is one of the oldest in India. We have been meaning to visit since we arrived, but as we live a bit north of town, we needed to make an effort to get there. It is a large complex. Alice had a rough time getting ready– she wanted to wear her fancy dress.
We tried to explain that this is a nice dress, better suited to a party or a wedding. We reminded her that it would be hot at the zoo and this dress would be uncomfortable and very sweaty. After a good half hour we talked her down and got her into a simple cotton dress. Then we called an Uber to ride to the zoo. After being dropped off outside the gates, we turned the corner… only to see a group of at least fifty girls all wearing their very fanciest dresses. I gave Mike a signal, as if to say, Quick now, let’s get around this group before she notices.
But you know she noticed in a second. “These girls!” she shouted, “They’re wearing their dresses!”
“You’re right,” we said, “you can wear your fancy dress next time.” Because apparently it is a thing. Those kids must have been so hot and uncomfortable in their dresses, though, because it was incredibly muggy with no breeze stirring. Mike had to sit out for a while. It’s a nice zoo, though they were working to renovate several areas and there were piles of construction materials here and there.
Actually the complex includes so much more than just a zoo. There is the Sri Chitra Art Gallery, The Napier Museum, and a Natural History Museum as well as parks, gardens, playgrounds, and what seemed like hundreds of tree specimens. Our plans were much less ambitious. All we could manage was the zoo.
Here is a bat-filled tree, some bears eating watermelon, a tiger, and a portly hippo. We got to see the tiger eat his dinner at close range. He feasted on huge hunks of meat of unknown origin. The tiger cages were quite small, causing them to pace around relentlessly. We’ve heard that Yann Martel based the tiger character of Richard Parker from The Life of Pi on a tiger from this zoo.
As dresses were the theme of the day, we thought it in keeping to ask an Indian woman in a beautiful dress to take a photo with Alice. Everyone is always asking us for photos, so we felt this was an acceptable request. We had been walking behind this couple for a while and she and her dress were just so lovely. They told us they’d just been married and so we shared our heartiest congratulations.
The heat is building here and we can see the wetlands around our apartment drying up. The days are muggy with temperatures in the 90s.
This little adventure might be all we can manage for excursions beyond our home base for a few weeks. We’re looking forward to Connecticut friends Leslie and Phil visiting us in late March, when we’ll take a trip up to the hill station Ponmudi.