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101 Uses for a Dupatta

August 26, 2005

It’s not that often that you can say that you are writing from the middle of the desert, but if last week in Udaipur felt like the Meditterranean then Jaisalmer, which is where we are now feels like the Sahara desert. It is on the edge of the Great Thar Desert and the main town is actually inside a very old huge sandstone fort. It is very very hot at the moment which is a shock to the system after a few months of heavy rain. As some of you know my body temperature likes to mirror that of my external environment, like I’m a reptile or something! So right now on a scale of boiling to very very boiling I’m the latter but I’m adjusting to the heat as best I can.

When I left you last week we were still in Udaipur which has probably been the best stop on our route so far. Last Friday evening we went up to a place called Sunset Point where you had a bird’s eye view of the whole city. It was just stunning. In the evening we went to a Rajasthani dance festival which was really lovely. This woman was dancing with wait for it….eight water carriers balanced one on top of the other on her head! We also visited the tailors for the last time. I had to have my dress altered for the third time because I put it on and broke the zip. Oops.

We had to cancel our plans for an early morning bus ride to Jodhpur but when I finally got my dresses back they were absolutely perfect. I would have never found something that good for so cheap a price at home so it is a good investment when you consider the cost of graduation balls etc.

The next day we went to a place called Ranakpur because we didn’t have time to go all the way to Jodhpur. Khan and Navin took us in the car but it was a really tight squeeze because of the ever increasing luggage we have so we had to just suffer numb legs for a few hours haha.

I felt pretty awful because I had eaten a dodgy pancake and couldn’t hold down (or in!) my food ever since. We spent the journey trying to come up with 101 uses for a dupatta after having discovered several just through our daily wearing of salwar kameez. I think we are at number 64 or something. We’ve also devised a new format for a TV show called Pimp my Rickshaw (MTV fans need no explanation!). In Ranakpur we visited a(nother) Jain Temple but got ripped off a bit by a somewhat money hungry high priest. We stayed in a five star hotel by our usual standards which cost a whopping 700 rupees a night (about a tenner!) It was quite nice though because it had a swimming pool which is a luxury for us!

I hadn’t had anything apart from rehydration salts and a banana for about 36 hours so I was feeling quite weak. The next day we headed for Jodhpur. As we were the last on the bus I got the seat where there was absolutely no suspension. Here’s a formula thats worth remembering: loose motions + no suspension = not fun!!

I was so relieved when we finally got into Jodhpur after about 4 hours. In Jodhpur we were bombarded by rickshaw drivers but we have one stock response now. We just tell them we need exercise and they just start laughing and walk off which is good because we don’t want to get angry with them or anything.

Jodhpur is a geometric mass of blue. It used to be just Brahmins that painted their houses blue but now lots of people do. It wards off mosquitos apparently which is good news for me! We got a free ride from an old guy who saw us trying to bargain with the rickshaw drivers and took pity on us. He lived near the fort so he didn’t want any money for it so that was so nice. Meherangargh fort itself is amazing. They had an audio tour which is one of the best ideas I’ve seen so far. Whenever we have had a tour guide before we have ended up nodding in the right places because we haven’t got a clue what they’re going on about so it’s much better that way. They even had the handprints of all the Maharajahs wives before they burnt themselves on his funeral pyre.

In the evening we went shopping for a bit and then had to get a night train to Jaisalmer. It came into Jaisalmer at the unearthly hour of 5am and we slept through the alarm or didn’t remember to set one I can’t remember. The upshot was we all awoke as the train was coming into the station and had approximately 3 minutes to speedily pack up sleeping bags and generally prise open our eyes!

Emerging from Jaisalmer station is an experience. Even at 5am you have several hardcore hotel owners battling for your attention. We jumped in one of the jeeps – they all say they’ll take you anywhere for 10 rupees but naturally you end up going to their guesthouse (or their uncles or their uncle’s mother etc).

The hotel owner then proceeded to try and make us take a camel safari promising us dance and ‘full moon party’, bhang (marijuana) and whatever else. He got quite nasty after two days because we checked out. Most hotels offer you dirt cheap room prices because they convince you into paying for a safari. I didn’t like the guy at all and besides he had designs on Louise and was trying to ply her with beer so we wanted to steer clear of him.

Jaisalmer city is like a huge sandcastle. The fort is absolutely huge with many of the hotels actually housed in old parts of the fort. It almost doesn’t feel real because its like a real life exhibit. We bought some really beautiful wall hangings. I like mine because its made of both Indian and Muslim gypsy dresses so it looks more unique compared to the rest. I have been keeping a record of where I am spending money so I can keep track and keep on promising myself I’ll slow down soon but the rupees still feel like monopoly money, and I still have a long way before I can pass GO and collect my next student loan installment!

We randomly met Tim and Sara who we had joked with before leaving Deep Griha about meeting again sometime during our travels so we had dinner with them and told them all about our travels so far. Louise seems to be a man magnet because wherever she goes we end up having a bunch of indian guys trying to make inane conversation such as “what is your good name” and really interesting stuff like that! She needs to be a little less soft because before long theres invariably a sob story which is meant to make you take pity and invite them back home to get married!

Anyway on Tuesday we went to the fort museum but none of the exhibits were marked so we had to make up our own stories or find some other diversion. We saw a bunch of bats that were living in the fort which was pretty cool. Then we went to Gadi Sagar which is a big lake with a temple on it. Whilst Louise was chatting up some Indian guys (joke Louloubelle if you’re reading this!) I was talking to a couple of musicians. Hadish was married when he was fifteen and his wife was ten so it was odd to think he was only 23 but had been married for so long. I learnt to play (sort of) the Rawanattha which is a beautiful stringed instrument of the Bhopu desert tribe. Then we went for a ride in a pedalo on the lake and afterwards I was persuaded to get one of these instruments. It didn’t take much persuasion because I already really wanted one so I just wanted a good deal. Also, I am a total sucker for beautiful eyes and this guy was pretty dam good looking but don’t tell anyone that part of the story! So I ended up getting the instrument, a CD and one of his silver rings (which looked exactly like what I had been looking for) for little over 6 pounds. In the evening we ended up going to this really quaint museum run by a guy who I reckon was about 85 years old although he wouldn’t reveal his age. We saw this really weird puppet show (puppets are quite big here!) which made me laugh so much mainly because I couldn’t believe I was sat in a room full of weird puppets. In the museum all the exhibits were painstakingly handwritten and the old man took us round on a guided tour. He even gave us a detailed explanation (no less than fifteen minutes) on the Kama Sutra. It was just so funny having it come out of the mouth of this little old man…easily the oddest fifteen minutes of my life so far! Then we ate Tibetan style before getting an early night ahead of our safari…

On Wednesday and Thursday we went on a safari into the desert by camel. It started off nicely but ended up being two of the most draining days of the trip so far. My camel was called Rosie and she was with her husband Rajah, Louise’s camel, and Rocket, Jen’s camel. Their baby Bella came along for the ride. It was really fun riding a camel if a little bit sore at times. Rosie spent much of the time sidling up to Rajah and the baby was trying to feed from his mama at the same time! When we stopped for lunch the camel drivers entertained us with stories about their desert experiences like the times male travellers have tried to make a move on them – it is so funny their trying to explain these things to us in pidgin english.

In the afternoon the travel agent joined us. After a bit of a domestic with his girlfriend, it was a bit obvious he was trying to make her jealous by going on with Louise. Then he was trying to make Rajah go faster and faster even though they’re not designed for it. I wanted to go slower as it really hurt but Rosie was tethered to Rajah so we couldn’t slow down. After a few seconds I heard Rosie scream and she fell down and was dragged along until Rajah slowed down. I was thrown off and landed a little ahead. That’s another contender for Scariest Moment Of My Life. It was a miracle that I had only a few cuts and bruises especially when you consider Rosie’s injury. When I got up and turned around to my horror her leg was hanging by a thread and she was bleeding heavily. I was crying from the shock of both of these things. I gave my dupatta to be used as a bandage but since no one was a camel doctor they just tried to bandage it back together. They ought to have used it as a tourniquet to stem the blood flow but it was hard to get this across. Worst of all is that the camel driver will have to foot the bill not the travel agent. It costs 10,000 rupees to replace the camel which is a lot to me even so it is their whole livelihood.

They did their best to make us happy and we saw the sand dunes and were rolling down them like kids and burying ourselves entirely in sand. We later heard that they had been sobbing most of the time they weren’t with us. We tried to get some money back from the travel agent to give to the camel drivers. He was a nasty piece of work and ended up saying he would pray to his god to get us back twice for the wrongs we have caused him. We wanted to relax by the campfire but he stayed their bad mouthing us in Hindi probably because he had been humiliated by three girls. We did our best to ignore him and concentrate on the beautiful surroundings.

We got back last night and spent a long time arguing for a refund. Of course, there is no concept of a refund here but we argued all the same. In the end they conceded to give us 33% back and two nights in a guesthouse. We had wanted the money to give to the drivers but we gave them what we could.

Right now Jen and Louise are out visiting some Jain temples and a few other things. I am feeling really really weak. I have been pancakeaphobic after the incident a few weeks ago but generally I am not in a great state. It’s why I decided to stay back while Louise and Jen go because they say rest is a good tonic. I am currently taking a cocktail of medicines so I hope by the next update I will be alive and kicking and ready to go. We are hoping to get a massage tonight which would be amazing. Wish me well 🙂

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Karin permalink
    August 27, 2005 7:55 am

    Hi Anila

    Sorry to hear about the diarrhoea.

    You need to see a doctor and get some oral rehydration sachets and make them up using clean (boiled and cooled) water.

    If you can’t get this from a doctor you must make your own to prevent dehydration. This is very important in order to stay healthy. Basically you must use a 1:1 salt to glucose ratio but I am sending you a recipe recommended by the world health organisation, pasted below. You can use starch based foods like cereals or rice instead of glucose – starch is effective over a longer time as the starch is broken down to glucose slowly.

    Try to be accurate about the amounts of salt and starch/glucose as this is very important. The sterility of the water is also very important.

    Could you please let at least your dad know exactly where you are as he may have friends there who can help should you get any worse.

    Okay I am pasting the recipe for you below. We will all say lots of prayers for your safe return home. If you need to, contact dad and get an earlier plane ticket.

    Hope I am not fussing!

    Godbless!

    Mum is here with me – we went to the Globe last night to see the Tempest.

    Heres the recipe. Sorry it is a bit technical. If in doubt just make up some rice or potato based soup with a little salt in it and eat as much as you can on a very regular basis.

    Love Aunty Karin

    Home fluids

    Although their composition is not as appropriate as that of ORS solution for treating dehydration, other fluids such as soups, cereal gruels, cereal-salt solutions, or home-made sugar-and-salt solutions may be more practical and nearly as effective for preventing dehydration. Home fluids should be given to children to drink as soon as diarrhoea starts and feeding should be continued. Such early home therapy can prevent many cases from becoming dehydrated and it also facilitates continued feeding by restoring appetite.

    Table 2.3 gives the WHO recommended composition of home therapy fluids. Home fluids should have an osmolality below that of blood plasma (i.e., less than 300 mOsm/l) and the concentration of sodium should preferably be in the range of 30-80 mmol/l. This concentration is obtained by dissolving 2.0 – 4.5 g of common salt in one litre of water; solutions that contain little or no salt may be effective if salt is present in the child’s food. The source of glucose may be a food starch, such as a cooked cereal, or sucrose.

    Table 2.3: WHO-recommended composition of home therapy fluids

    1. Osmolality less than 300 mOsm/l
    2. Sodium 30-80 mmol/l
    3. Starch* usually 50-80 g/l
    OR
    Sucrose** 30-140 mmol/l
    * Usually a cooked cereal, e.g., rice gruel, or a starchy vegetable.
    ** The molar ratio of sucrose to sodium should be at least 1:1.

    When the fluid contains starch, as in a cooked cereal, it will have a lower osmolality than a fluid containing an equal amount of sucrose, in grams/litre. Moreover, within the intestine, starch breaks down gradually into glucose, which is rapidly absorbed. Thus, the osmolality of the fluid in the intestine remains at a safe level. As a practical guide, the amount of starch used should be such that the fluid is thick, but can still be drunk easily (usually not more than 80 g/litre).

    A similar situation exists when a fluid contains proteins, e.g., soups containing legumes. The proteins break down slowly into amino acids, which are absorbed quickly, so that the osmolality of the fluid in the intestine remains within a safe range.

    For optimal absorption of sodium, the molar ratio of sucrose:sodium in a sugar-and-salt solution should be at least 1:1 – e.g., 50 mmol/l of sodium requires a sucrose concentration of at least 50 mmol/l. The ratio may exceed 1:1, but should not cause total osmolality to exceed 300 mOsm/l, and the total sucrose should not be greater than 50 g/l.

    If solutions containing salt and carbohydrate are not available, or cannot be accurately prepared, salt-free fluids such as water should be given in their place. However, these are less effective in preventing dehydration when diarrhoea is severe; if given in large amounts, they might also cause hyponatraemia. Infants with diarrhoea should always continue to breast-feed. Breast-feeding during diarrhoea is an important source of water and nutrients, and can actually decrease stool volume and the duration of illness. Young infants who are not breast-fed should be given occasional drinks of water.

    There are also some fluids that may be available in the home which should not be given to children with diarrhoea. These include commercial soups, which may contain dangerously high concentrations of salt, and sweetened commercial fruit drinks or soft drinks, which are usually hyperosmolar owing to their high concentrations of sucrose. These fluids can cause hypernatraemia as a result of an excessive salt intake, osmotic diarrhoea, or both.

  2. Mummy permalink
    August 27, 2005 9:58 am

    Nili, you must see a doctor immediately. What you are describing could easily be typhoid or something worse and, believe me, if you don’t do something soon you will become even weaker. As I told you before, I became so weak when I had typhoid that I could not even walk properly. I practically had to be carried to the clinic by my friends. The only thing that saved me was the fact that I had had a typhoid jab before I left England!

    Also, ask for prayer – what that man said has to be broken, as it is like a curse over you. I will speak to Dorcas today and we will pray for it to be broken. I am not trying to scare you; as you know, our God overrules everything evil, but prayer is our essential weapon.

    Also, that stuff Daddy used to make me when I was ill is very good. Don’t know how to spell it, but it sounds something like ‘Kidgeree’ and is a mixture of rice, dahl and salt. It is BRILLIANT for what you are suffering so PLEASE ASK FOR IT! Sustains you far more than rehydration salts ever will, tho’ of course, still drink plenty (NOT fizzy drinks tho’ – they will make it worse!)

    Please get Jenna to e-mail me or Daddy if you cannot do it, and let us know if we can be of help – it’s about time we did something!

    God bless darling; thinking about you and praying for you always – Mummy xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  3. Nan & Nandad permalink
    August 27, 2005 11:11 am

    Dear Anila,
    Received latest news from you having kept every episode so far. We think you should find a good doctor or hospital urgently as you sound very poorly from this end. Contact your father who is the best one to help and with luck he can arrange for you to get home more swiftly.

    Your mother is very worried too especially as you did not have the jab for typhoid. We are praying every night for your safe and healthy return to the UK on 12th September and only wish you had not stayed so long in India, despite the fact you have enjoyed a wonderful, never to be forgotten holiday in that country. However, your health is of paramount important always and especially under your present conditions.

    Thank goodness you are with 2 very good friends so far from home. Please do find a good hospital or doctor at once, do not let your condition deteriorate any further as we want you home fit and well with us again. Everyone loves you very much as you know and we are shattered not to be within distance to help you at this time. All our love as always, Nan and Nandad. xxxxx

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