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December 18th 2011
Published: December 21st 2011
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Enjoying his last dinner in KochiEnjoying his last dinner in KochiEnjoying his last dinner in Kochi

If only he knew....quick, Future Aisha! Go back in time and warn Past Aisha!
Today we bring you the taste of irony.

We believe the last thing we said/wrote to you was..."so this is where we leave you. Tomorrow begins our great Train Ride to Delhi and subsequently the last phase of our holiday. Guess the next time we update this for Part 2 of 'Munnar to Delhi' will be from considerably further north and hopefully from far cooler environs than we're sweltering through currently."

Yeah. Scrap that.

For our last night in Fort Kochi before the train, we thought we'd go out for a celebratory dinner to a place we hadn't tried before, somewhere Lonely Planet recommended, which was also close to our homestay. So we headed out for a nice dinner of fish and squid, since we would tomorrow be leaving the coast and its dericious bounty of seafood (of course Aisha pigged out and got dessert too). We took a different route home through the backstreets, where we found some very colourfully yet tastefully lit up houses (tacky illuminated santas and christmas trees have NOTHING on this lot). We got home and basically fell into bed, pretty tired from the day's trip back from Munnar. After chattering to each other in the dark for a while like a couple of highschool girls at a sleepover, we drifted off to sleep.
Two hours passed. Then at midnight the horror began.

Aisha got sick first, no doubt a result of his heroically ill-advised efforts to eat his own body weight. Tess' slightly pre-tenderised stomach didn't save her and she followed some 2 hours later, after bravely attempting to nurse Aisha back to health.Ummm...projectile vomiting is probably the most socially acceptable thing we can mention here but suffice to say the phrase 'the candle burns at both ends' will forever hold new and painful meaning.

After probably the most horrendous night of our lives (and this definitely includes the one Aisha spent in hospital after his op earlier this year) we were pale and shaken, completely wrecked and still incredibly sick, if not sicker than we had been. Oh - did we mention we had to be on a train in five hours time? After whimpering down the line to the travel insurance company, they said we had to go and get a certificate from a doctor saying that we were unfit to travel, meaning we could be reimbursed for
Less fun than it looks...Less fun than it looks...Less fun than it looks...

...would you believe.
our tickets. After that we thought we might check into a hotel with room service and hot showers (hot water has been a VERY intermittent luxury since arriving in India) and just wait it out. At Tess' request, our hosts at the homestay organised a taxi for us to a doctor, for which we were eternally grateful (they initially suggested we get an auto, but remember that whole 'bone-juddering efficiency thing? It's also stomach-juddering).

After an exceedingly painful taxi ride the taxi driver then deposited us at the front of the local hospital. Staggering in we managed to fill out the forms and cough up the 500 rupees each required to see a doctor. Sitting in the waiting room took a perceptual eternity but after what was actually not to long we were led up a couple of flights of stairs and into a nurse's office, someone took our temperature, weighed us and took blood pressure, determined that Aisha was running a fever, then sent us into the next office where another doctor (turns out he was the Chief Medical Officer) was waiting. After more prodding, poking and measuring, observed by literally about eight other random staff - several nursing students, finance people, admin people - the doctor diagnosed both of us as having acute gastroenteritis and dehydration. The sting in the tail was that we were both being admitted to hospital immediately and required intravenous fluid replacement, amongst other joys. We started to panic as we never dreamed we'd be admitted, we were just popping in to get some antibiotics and get the hell out. This meant we'd left all our gear strewn about the homestay where we were due to check out in about....oh, now. Hint: A stressful situation can pretty easily be conjured up by the following:

-feeling incredibly unwell, in a lot of pain and light headed from dehydration;
-being in a foreign country where you know not a single word of the primary language spoken;
-being somewhat apprehensive at what 'Indian Hospital' would actually entail - is it clean? Is it hygienic? Do they use sterile needles? Do they treat things like we treat things?
-being attacked by various aggressive admin ladies for a sizeable amount of money (which of course we didn't have on us, all our cash was back at the room);
-being attacked by other aggressive admin ladies waving papers
The Forigeiners Suggession BookThe Forigeiners Suggession BookThe Forigeiners Suggession Book

Our suggessions are impotent to the hopsital...
in our face demanding we sign them NOW, despite us having zero idea what we were signing and seeing plainly that our names were misspelled;
-a room full of over ten nurses/doctors surrounding you, brandishing needles and other fun things wanting to hurry up and get this party started;
-yelling, muttering and/or eye rolling by staff;
-a frantic phone call to the insurance company taking place simultaneously to the above, the subject of which was essentially, "QUICK!!!! WHAT THE F*** DO WE DO?! HELP! HELP!!!"

Arguments ensued, with us saying that we had to go back to collect our gear and then we'd come back for our treatment. Onlookers included a bunch of nursing students and the very intimidating head nurse, so we felt somewhat outnumbered by the white-clad army. That battle was finally fought to a ceasefire, the terms being we were permitted to leave once they'd given Tess an anti-nausea shot in the behind, if we then returned to begin the IVs and other fun times (not a Suntory time). Painful intra muscular injection administered, we walked the five steps from our hospital room to the corridor when Tess started to feel woozy. Recognising the signs, she

That's the only medicine us aussies need!
sat down immediately in a chair in the corridor and lent against the wall, saying to the nurse, "I think I'm about to faint!" *puzzled look* "I'm going to faint!" "What? What she say?" "FAINT, I'm going to FAINT!" . After some 30 seconds of unconsciousness and somewhat scary twitching, Tess was revived through certain advanced techniques involving the head nurse throwing water in her face (AFTER she was awake please note; and while she had her glasses on). Of course at this point there was no way they were letting Tess out of the hospital (not that she would've got far anyway) as the fainting was the final nail on the dehydration coffin and they wanted to start fluids straight away, so poor Aisha was left to do the retrieval of baggage on his own with the limited assistance of a hospital driver. The driver deposited a very feverish and slightly deranged Aisha back near the homestay and he staggered in, discovering that at this point we'd kept the next guest to check in waiting for an hour. Mumbling incoherent apologies, he stumbled upstairs and proceeded to try and sweep the scattered contents of the room into a bunch of bags that suddenly seemed far too small. Taking what felt to be a small eternity, he slowly ferried the bags back out to the car and collapsed inside, to be removed back to hospital.

Meanwhile, back at the hospital, the room seemed to have turned into something resembling a Bollywood dance party, with about eight young nursing students apparently adopting Tess. They chattered away, deciding one of them looked like Tess' sister (I guess), talking about favourite Bollywood stars (we have similar taste), asking to dress Tess in a sari (maybe tomorrow) and whether she would please do a Bhangra dance for them (not right now I have acute gastroenteritis). Crashing the party in a slight haze, Aisha stumbled in with the bags to find the TV on (not that Tess had requested it, but hey) playing a loud selection of Bollywood music videos, Tess now sporting a bindi and the nursing students crowded around her teaching her some Malayalam words.

The next few hours saw us rather painfully cannula-ised and given about two litres of IV saline along with a plethora of pills.
Gecko of Transparency +1Gecko of Transparency +1Gecko of Transparency +1

Ewww! You can see its brain! And....lungs...or something.
After spending the afternoon largely passing in and out of consciousness we slept overnight (a bit uncomfortably due to the huge number of mosquitoes in the room and the damn cannulas still being in). Waking up the next morning we were brought breakfast and the nursing students crowded in again (they're really very nice) every so often to check temperatures, deliver more antibiotics and give Tess a bit of a pat on the hand, stroke of the hair, or tickle of the tummy (yes really - apparently she is a baby now). The day was passed largely reading and listening to music, while chowing down plain rice, plain bread and plain everything with a side order of antibiotics. Over the course of Day 2 Tess continue to improve (Aisha had woken up feeling exhausted but already largely better) and we passed out again that night having had our cannulas removed for good behaviour (read: not throwing up and drinking litres of hydralyte) and with high hopes of being released the next day. We sat counting our mosquito bites (Aisha won on numerical value, but Tess won on size, so we called it a draw) and pondering whether the irony value of contracting Dengue Fever in a hospital would outweigh the danger of getting it at all...
We had high hopes of being released after a full day in, but this was not to be. The powers that be decided we were to be confined for another two FRIGGING DAYS DAMNIT!

Between doses of antibiotics and mystery pills, beds that were a foot too short for some of us and insanely uncomfortable, as well as 6:30am wakeups by the nursing staff, the next three days passed in a sluggish blur of cabin fever, tiredness and boredom (also insane tetchiness on the part of Aisha, who's never taken forced confinement well at the best of times, and this was NOT the best of times). This was relieved only by the appearance of a transparent gecko (such plentiful and visible organs! Zim would have loved it) which was presumably the biological control mechanism for the mosquito overpopulation. Apart from that, Aisha read a lot and Tess watched a lot of Bollywood music clips and the Bangladesh vs Pakistan cricket match and we both lay around eating plain rice and toast with jam.

In summary, our primary piece of advice would be
Christmas in Fort KochiChristmas in Fort KochiChristmas in Fort Kochi

Much classier than the average aussie display
'Don't contract acute gastroenteritis and be admitted to hospital in India.' It's not clean (although the needles and important medical stuff is, thankfully); there are no flyscreens (read: mosquito screens.....DISEASE VECTORS, ANYONE?) on the windows; the bathroom constantly oozes the most vomit enducing smell (although the bathroom doesn't actually contain any SOAP, cos you know, who needs hygiene when you're in hospital); the water supply is dodgy; and apparently very spicy, oily curries are the perfect 'mild' introduction to real foods for those with decimated digestive systems.

With love & thanks to Malcolm Tucker's ass spraying mayhem...

Tess & Aisha

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