adventures in India #savvytraveleraj224asia2016

23 May 2016

As I was sitting in the Singapore airport, friends and family were awake (in the US). Therefore, time passed more quickly, & I was well rested. During one conversation, I learned about a free tour of Singapore if you fly into Singapore, have at least a 6 hour layer, not to exceed 24 hours, on a first come first serve basis. Unlucky me though as I fit the criteria, the tour operates four times throughout the day with no tours starting between midnight and 4am.

About two o’clock in the morning, I heard from Sarah (friend) that she was making her way to the airport as we were traveling to India together. Even though we hadn’t seen each other in a couple of years, we picked up where we left off last time- just chatting about life and experiences. We walked the airport, exchanged money, grabbed a bite to eat, and headed towards our gate.

I’ll admit: I attempted to follow Sarah’s lead of staying calm for our 5:40am flight and by 5:15am we were just approaching security at the gate. After all was said and done, she didn’t realize our gate was a bit farther down the corridor than previously thought. Due to only carry on luggage, I tend to be towards the front of the line to ensure overhead bin space, whereas Sarah’s bag is small enough to put under the seat.

Again, I’m trying to take Sarah’s lead and stay calm, not rush, and go with the flow. As we boarded the plane, we found overhead space for our bags and enjoyed the flight. Sarah was out like a light before take-off as she had arrived at Singapore airport from Sydney (Australia) an hour before me at 10pm. (side note Sarah’s contract for work in Singapore ended last month; she went to Sydney for a conference, then we met up at Singapore airport to travel to India together).

We arrived in Chennai, India. We proceeded to customs and the visa counter. We had to exit the airport, then re-enter the airport to catch our domestic flight to Coimabatore, India. Sarah informed me the weather would be hot (like Palm Springs, CA), I mentioned to her ‘it’s not that bad’ to which she replied ‘and it’s what 7:30 in the morning’. If I remember correctly, the pilot informed us it was 34 degrees Celsius in Chennai. Next flight: 1005 with Coimbatore, India as our destination for the next 3 weeks. As we checked-in for our flight and passed security, they finally caught the scissors in my pack. While going through security, I forgot about the scissors. The pace of the lifestyle out here is a bit slower than America. Therefore, we were at security for 10 minutes before we located the scissors. Mind you: I was annoyed and frustrated at the time, & I almost forgot I had moved my passport and boarding pass from its original location, which scared me when security asked for my boarding pass before allowing me to proceed pass security. Don’t worry, Sarah laughed when she my ‘deer in the headlights’ face, but I found it. Finally, we were passed security, waiting to board our final flight. As we viewed our surroundings and my heart rate returned to normal, we walked around. We found a ‘spa’ in the airport where Sarah requested foot reflexology. It was 9:10am, & our boarding time started at 9:20am. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time for the foot reflexology. We boarded the plane for our 45 minute flight to Coimbatore- full flight.

At 11am, we arrived in Coimbatore, India. As we slowly gathered our belonging and de-boarded the plane, I was thankful to finally be reaching our final destination. In my mind, i wanted sleep. As we exited the airport, a man was holding a sign with Sarah’s name on it. We followed him to the car, climbed in, and off we were to Ayurveda Treatment Center. Driving in India consists of following minimal laws of the road, and drivers use the horn to allow other drivers to know their position on the road. In America, drivers use the horn on an infrequent basis, whereas in India a minute didn’t pass without 5-7 horns honking. During discussion with Sarah, I realized it’s more dangerous for a ‘non-local’ to drive on these streets as opposed to the locals who know how to manuever. After a 20 min taxi ride, we arrived, Sarah checked in, and we were escorted up to our room: 11’ x 11′, 2 beds, sink, kitchen area, bathroom, shower. Ayurveda Treatment Center Room 19: ‘home’ for next 3 weeks.

The doctor entered to examine Sarah for an hour- listening to each and every health issue without rushing any issues. As a pediatric nurse, I sat on ‘my’ bed and observed the interaction between a patient and her doctor- from a different perspective. I didn’t view myself as a nurse, I viewed myself as a patient advocate for Sarah and learning from the experience as a nurse and as an advocate. The doctor didn’t rush any issue or the conversation, he patiently listened, took notes, and examined every aspect.

At the end of the examination, lunch was delivered to our room. Sarah and I were relieved to eat ‘real’ food as we had been snacking for the past 48+ hours. I mentioned to her ‘I’m not sure if this is really good or if I am really hungry’. She assured me ‘it was really good’.

We toured the compound and the surrounding areas. Per the recommendations of the treatment center, Sarah is not permitted to leave the compound. We joked that even if we weren’t physically together, people would know we were together because we think we are the only ‘white girls’ in the compound. The ‘tour’ didn’t take long (~20 min) as we walked around the compound. We returned to our room.

This is it! For the next 21 days, Sarah will stay within this area of the compound. I may venture out a bit because we are in the city. However, my American style of shorts and tank tops will not fly here. I will be wearing capris and shirts that cover my arms. and then we napped. I passed out for 2 hours, whereas Sarah tossed and turned for 1.5 hrs. She woke me up at 4p, and I didn’t want to get up. Thirty minutes passed, I fought with myself to keep my eyes open- fighting jet lag knowing I should be awake to sleep well tonight. We walked around, stopped in the library, and just enjoyed the surroundings. I borrowed a book from the library: The Fundamental Principles of Ayurveda Medicine.

The doctor returned at 7p for evening ’rounds’, dinner was delivered, we ate, and called it a night. As I went to crawl into the bed, I realized the top white sheet on the bed was the only sheet. No sheet to cover my body. Sarah said ‘that’s how it is, it’s too hot to sleep with anything’. This is one of the reasons I always pack a sleep sack.

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