Rishikesh, 29 August 01
24th, day before departure: spent in a stress, as expected. Half-way through the evening meal at Shabri’s, my stomach yells “Stop! I won’t take a mouthful more!”. I insist on swallowing up the three gulab jamun served for desert, though.
2 a.m.: out come the gulab jamun. Temperature: 38.3°C. Three hours of sleep at the most.
25th, day of departure: doctor in the morning. Lots of pills, including a five-day course of antibiotics, to keep me up and running during the journey. I go to Vama to collect my (overdue) ghagra choli. Two hours and four trials later, after having sent Nisha back home, I am arguing about the price with the manager over the phone when I gracefully pass out and crumple to the floor, right in front of the main reception.
I leave the shop with Nisha an hour later (she came back to fetch me), after having nearly fainted two or three more times; I have obtained a meagre 5% discount – very unsatisfying, but it is difficult to argue with conviction when one keeps on passing out. I reach home thirty minutes before the bus to Bombay is due to pick me up.
Travel to Delhi goes very smoothly. The scenery from the Pune-Mumbai Expressway is beautiful in the monsoon sunshine. I get an hour of sleep on the plane. The man in charge of the prepaid taxi counter at Delhi Airport tells me that the New Delhi Railway Station is “15-20 minutes away only. You come, I take you on my scooter anytime, no problem m’am. You can stay at my place, also, yes!” I smile my way out of the situation, as I have learnt to do so very well, and explain that the airport waiting room is a beautiful place to stay in for the night.
I meet a young couple there. They are waiting to pick up a friend. We chat a little, and they very kindly invite me to grab a few hours sleep at their place before driving me to the station on time. They seem very nice people, I am very tempted, I accept. It was a good decision.
26th, uneventful journey to Rishikesh: we have to walk at moments, my luggage is heavy, I have fever, my sari is catching on my legs – but it is all still bearable.
I leave table early that evening: 38.7°C.
27th, first day: I wake up, feeling pretty good. 37.2°C. I sit up in my bed and a sharp pain flashes through my head. I lie down again. A stuffy nose and a sore throat the previous night make me take some cold medicine.
Morning class goes fine, as does lunch. During the second class, I pester against my unsteady hand which makes more and more “typos” as time trickles by. In the middle of the third class, I have to ask the teacher to excuse me and retreat to my room. The now throbbing headache, fever and vague nausea are too much for me to stay functional. Temperature in the evening: 38.8°C.
After hours of pulling the covers off and on, I start dozing off around 2 a.m. – but I really get some sleep only at 4 a.m., when a power cut mercifully shuts down the fan (therefore depriving my poor roommate of any further sleep).
28th, 36.5°C: I still feel a little feverish, but the number on the thermometer looks really good. My head hurts like hell – but not quite as much as during the night, when I wished I could prevent my heart from beating, since every beat was the signal for a flash of pain. I spend the whole day in bed and sleep a lot. Reading isn’t really within the realm of my possibilities.
I definitely suspect a concussion, which must have gone by unnoticed because of the anti-fever medicine I was taking at the start. I may be wrong, but it seems the most likely explanation I have come up with up till now.
In the evening, I feel courageous enough to walk down to the hotel restaurant for dinner. It seems to me I haven’t checked my email for at least a week (a little under that, in fact) – but due to the heavy rainfalls, the lines are down. I head for bed and sleep a good night’s sleep.
29th, I feel “great”.
The nausea which was so bad last night has left me, and so has the headache, as long as I keep nice and still. 35.3°C. Thinking that looks a little low, I take my temperature again, but in my mouth this time, instead of underarm as I usually do: 36.8°C. Is there always so much of a difference between the two? Should I add 1.5°C to each of the readings for the last days to get the “real” temperature? That would take us pretty high.
Anyway. Things are under control, and the days ahead look brighter than the days behind. I will start classes again tomorrow, but will stay inside the hotel for the next three or four days. I will take my time to decide if I will join the trek to Gangotri or not during the last week, depending on how I feel. I must say that for the moment I doubt I will be fit enough, unless some really spectacular remission takes place (not to say that I won’t be fit in absolute – but it does take some time to get back into peak condition, doesn’t it?)