Tag Archives: we have to be friends now

Tied

On the first day, we took bets as to who would fall ill first. Revealing in their vulnerability a bit, everyone thought it would be themselves. We went a solid two weeks inhaling paneer and curry without incident. Then, Anne and I went to the campus restaurant for lunch, and by nightfall the ax had dropped. But it wasn’t the curry that did us in. Nor raw vegetables, nor fruits, not even contaminated water.

It was pizza.

We have been spacing our food curiosities in intervals, ordering spicy Indian food and then counterbalancing with simple rice or tomato soup. Yesterday we craved something simple, and the restaurant touted pizza as a specialty. Why not? we thought. What came to us was a warped personal pan concoction. It was essentially a sponge cake crust with peppers and onions mixed in Cheez-Whiz on top.

Now, we can keep food down, but not in. It was a choice that surely backfired, in every sense.

I am grateful that we have air-conditioning, though, and toilet paper, which has not been guaranteed at every stop in our travels. Dr. Harish and his wife are showing us amazing hospitality. Today he brought us home-made soup, and there was a bit of lost translation when figuring out the meal. I felt so bad inconveniencing him. Rice, alloo, bread, whatever is easiest, I said. He wanted to make us feel more at home, though.

“Katie, what do you eat when you get sick?” he asked, directly.

What we really wanted was this: muffins, waffles, cheeseburgers. We have been dreaming of waffles, I tell you. But honestly, we drew a blank at this question. We had already forgotten our typical diet in the face of its absence. Just no more cumin or pepper, please.

“Perhaps an egg on toast?” I suggested.

“That is going to be a hard one,” he said. “We don’t exactly prepare eggs at home.”

Soup it was, then, and it was deliciously familiar drunken out of tiny bowels from the dining hall. Tomorrow we are getting on a plane bound for Hyderabad, so we hope and pray to every God that by then we will recover. The soup, it helped, and the company.

“I think I will jump in the bathtub…er, shower, er…bucket,” Anne just said. You have to understand, this bucket is multipurpose: bathtub, laundry washer, fruit purifier. But it does the job(s) well. Our toilet, too.

I sent a message to the director of our study abroad program. Please, may Anne and I live together? I asked. After the tiring train, the celebration of steady bowels, and unclogging the toilet drain, who else would I want in the same room as me to curse when the power cuts out? “Nothing is convenient in India!” we will say and laugh, just as we have been while ensuring that the other eats and drinks enough water.

When we leave tomorrow, my deepest regrets to room service.

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Adieu Too Soon

I have said little about my travel companions, two very different people, and all three of us thrown by happenstance and the allure of India.

Annette and I made independent decisions to come here this summer. We go to the same school and were friends-of-friends before we realized our common interests. I still am puzzled as to how we didn’t meet earlier, but acquaintances are often concentric in a place as large as KU. When we discovered that our travel dates overlapped by two weeks, we decided to travel together.

We met Anne for the first time at the Newark Airport. She is studying at the University of Hyderabad with me this summer, but goes to school in Utah. Already in these two weeks we have seen each other at our worst and most elated. Now we lounge around in our sports bras together in the heat, as if friends for years.

The choice to travel with two mild acquaintances could have been disastrous. This is something none of us gave much thought to because we are young and face consequences that are resolved emotionally through the simplicity of enough complaining. However, the parts of our trip were a disaster destroyed the reserve between strangers and solidified our attachment quickly. “To get close to someone, go to Delhi,” we keep saying.

But yesterday Annette left us. Her plans took her farther to Varanasi, then moving down South, and eventually, home. Anne and I have to get to school soon, too. We saw her off to the train station in the hostel lobby at 11 pm. Knowing the cruel, hard, wonderful world she was entering in solitude we felt a bit like mothers sending their child to Kindergarten Day 1, especially as she stood before us in her overly large backpack with bleary and antsy eyes.

Annette’s cheer and calm gives her a penchant for quick friendships and will undoubtedly help her on her journey. We are concerned for her safety for this very reason too. She is watchful, though, through the politeness. We miss her already in the flavor of our humor and decisions. The breadth of our independent travels and ultimate reunion excuses it.

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