Accompanied by an enquiring frown. The frequency of which is beginning to hit home...
I'm feeling a little paranoid at this point. Who knew there were so many and varied ways of informing a person that they look like hell?! Or perhaps are on the brink of death? I don't recall anyone in Minnesota EVER saying something like this... "Your skin is so gray today...perhaps you shall go to the hospital, madame?" (this from the man tallying my produce!)
Vimala (our maid) thinks nothing of regularly noting the sunkeness of my eyes or the dry state of my hair. Nor is she shy as she recommends I seek an "injection" or "tablets" to cure what (apparently) ails me. Never mind that I'm feeling fine! I quiz her..."an injection of what?" No answer forthcoming...I hear her speaking in Kannada to Raju (I always know when they're talking about me...not that they try and hide it!) "Madame, you are always drinking that chilled water...you should stop and then you will be well." (The fact that I am entirely well at the moment seems to be unimportant). "And then those mornings that you were exercising in the cold..." (a cold so bitter it hit 54 degrees F). I argue to no avail...I am a NURSE...I've performed CPR...I'm from MINNESOTA, for cripes sake. I appeal from a more holistic angle..."I've studied plant medicine...I've made my own tinctures, teas and syrups... My words are seized upon before I can go on:
"Tea...oh madame you should not drink tea...very bad." Raju and Vimala are both shaking their heads.
"What????!!!???" Taking a deep breath is good for a person. I'm lucky because I have cause to take so very many. My own little yogic practice, right here, right now...
"Madame, you should drink coffee...maybe a little tea once a month." Okay, then. Probably I'm not going to die. Coffee drinking I am good at (those of you who know, know).
"What about the North Indians?" I say, "They drink tons of tea! And besides it's herbal tea! Medicine tea. "
The Kannada consultation continues (free of charge!) "Okay-okay. Medicine tea...like Tulsi...it's okay... (hesitating) Madame...my English is a little bad...but you, you are in Karnataka...not in the north India (the proclamation comes out in a rush as if no one wanted to be the one to tell me.)
I am silent. My head is starting to ache. Maybe I am feeling a little unwell. "I know I am in the South." The look of relief exchanged between Raju and Vimala is undeniable. I am under the impression that there are times when working for someone so uniniformed in the ways of health (and now, geography!) is difficult. They are doing their best to point out the error of my ways and I am not an easy student...but I do make excellent coffee!
This past week both the kids and I have actually been sick. Just a bad cold. The usual viral ickiness made worse by a three year old coughing in your face. Vimala was sick, too...she had her injection (water? antibiotic? bleach?) and came back to work a day later.
"Madame, I am worried...these are my babies...your babies. Why are you not giving them some chilled water for their fever." Chilled water. The same water I am not to drink. I know that the concept of heat and cold in health is very important in traditional Ayurvedic but it is clear that the finer points are eluding me! Vimala wishes aloud that I'd give the kids some tablets. We compromise and she brings them some water, while I promise that I'll give them tablets later if they do not get well.
Raju expresses his concern as well by daily asking me if we are going to...the hospital!
"We're in India, madame."
Yes, we are.
Healthy and Well? in Bangalore.