It was bound to happen.  Someone in our family would eventually need the services of a doctor while in India.  As of today, both Ender and I have had doctor experiences to relate.

I alluded to Ender being sick a few weeks back, but didn’t give details, so here it goes.  He began complaining of a stomach ache.  At first I didn’t think too much of it, but when he started having diarreah along with it and it went on and on for 2 weeks, I figured we needed to get it checked out.  I got the name of the physician from a fellow expat and called that day.  I was told to “come right in”.  However, I couldn’t leave right at that point, so I asked for an appointment the next day.  That was when I learned that in India you don’t make Dr. Appointments.  You just go in whenever you want.

The next morning, Ender went to school for the first couple of hours, because the Dr. Office didn’t open until 11.  I casually mentioned to some of the teachers that I was taking him in, and explained the situation.  At this point, one of the teachers spoke up and said “Well, have you dewormed him lately??”  I doubt that there has ever before been a look of such shock and horror on my face as there was at that minute.  They laughed and said “Don’t look so shocked…we do that all the time!”.  The conversation devolved into them arguing about the right schedule for family deworming…once a year, 4x a year, or every month.  Apparently, the majority of them “deworm” the whole family once a year.  Happy New Year!  Now, let’s get those worms out!

I went to the appointment with a heavy heart, now totally convinced that my son did in fact have worms and that he would need a good deworming, much like we do to Beauty on a monthly basis.

The doctor’s office was located in a male fertility clinic.  I knew this from talking to people, but was still kind of freaked out when I saw pictures of the Statue of David and other masterpieces depicting the male form on the wall.  Apparently, the doctor is the wife of the physician who runs that clinic, so she uses one of the rooms as her office to run a small pediatrics practice. I don’t think Ender noticed the art.

The waiting room was empty, and we were ushered directly in to see the pediatrician by the secretary.  The pediatrician works out of a room the size of smallish bedroom.  In this room, she has her desk, medical books, assorted odds and ends, a few old toys, and a small exam table.  It was cramped and crowded and felt like were were walking into the well-worn study of an eccentric writer.  It all felt very strange to me, but most of the things I encounter in India do, so I tried to take it in stride.  The doctor was very nice and personable.  She made small talk with me about what we are doing in India, how I liked it so far, etc.  The usual.    She asked questions, jotted down answers, and gave Ender a quick exam on the table.

She explained that there are 3 possibilities… a virus of some sort, a problem with his intestinal bacteria, or, of course, worms.  She assured me that all three of them are fixable, and I shouldn’t panic.  She prescribed 2 medications for him, and requested that I take a stool sample to the lab for testing.  The medications should take care of the intestinal bacteria and/or stomach virus issue, and the sample would tell if he needed further treatment for the worms.  If that was the case, she would like to treat the whole family for worms, just as a precaution. 🙁  She gave me the note paper she had been writing on, with the prescription on the bottom.  No records were kept of our visit.

I decided to get the “sample” from him in the evening, so off we went to the pharmacy to get his medications.  This is where I learned a few things.  First, not all pharmacies carry every medicine.  I had to go to no less than 4 to collect the two medicines that I needed.  Next, nearly ever pharmacy looks something like the back room of a tavern where the bookie does his business.  They are small, they are cramped, and the medicines are precariously stacked on dusty shelves, easily within arm’s reach of the customers.  Lastly, they don’t take your prescription.  They gladly hand over the medications prescribed and send you on your merry way, prescription still in hand.  Prescriptions don’t even need to be on a prescription pad…any blank sheet of paper will do.

After our big adventure, we stopped at KFC for some chicken.  A little grease on top of a stomach ache never hurt anyone, right?

That evening, we retrieved the sample (Ender was very mature about it all and did it without me in the room), and the next morning the driver and I headed out to find a lab.  He had asked around the previous evening because he knew what we had to do, so he knew where to go.  The lab was located in a medical office building.  The place was extremely packed, which is the norm here, as I have found.  I waited patiently at the front desk, with people jumping in front of me (again, the norm here), until Mujeeb came up to the desk with me and helped me push my way through to the front (its the only way…) and get my message across.  The sample was handed over, and I was given a small receipt with which to pick it up again.  You’ll be surprised to learn that ANYONE can pick it up.  Hippa laws obviously don’t apply here.

Mujeeb picked up the results for me the next morning.  I was thrilled to learn that Ender was worm-free, and seemed to already be responding to medications.  I called the doctor with the news, on her cell phone, as she had asked, and she told me that nothing further needed to be done.  Come back if he starts having problems again, otherwise he’s fine.

I am greatly pleased that my child didn’t need to be dewormed, however, I would not have been totally surprised considering the way he digs into any dirt or sand he can find and is somewhat resistant to hand washing.  I did take the opportunity to lecture him about washing better, using the “The Dr. says that you could have had worms!  WORMS!” ploy.  Unfortunately, it only seemed to work on Addie, who, ever since, has been a hand-washing maniac.

Oh, as a side note to all this:  Prices.

Cost of Dr. Visit:  300rs  (about $7 USD)

Cost of Medications:  65 rs (about $1.25 USD)

Cost of lab tests:  around 85rs (about $2 USD)

Total:  450rs.  (somewhere near $10 USD)

Less than half the price of our insurance co-pay in the US.  Amazing, isn’t it?

Tune in tomorrow for:  Stacy’s day at the hospital (its not as bad as it sounds!)

After attending a party on Sunday in a dress shirt and long pants, Ender decided that he liked the extra attention that comes from looking sharp.  He asked if he could dress like that for school today.  Not sure what the special occasion is, or who he is trying to impress, but you must admit, he looks quite snazzy.  Unfortunately, the playground is full of dirty reddish sand that resists washing, so I imagine it will be a one-shot deal for that particular pair of pants.  Oh well, at least they’ll have had their day in the sun.

I hadn’t realized it, but apparently India makes you helpless.  Too delicate or too weak to do anything for yourself, you must sit back and let others do things for you.  At least, this is how it feels for me lately, and it doesn’t agree with me at all.

Let me give you some examples.  I go to the store.  While walking around, I see something on the bottom shelf that I would like to examine.  As I crouch down to take a better look, a clerk comes running up behind me with a small stool to sit on. This has happened on several occasions.  Geez, I’m just picking something up…I really don’t need to sit down for that!

Still shopping.  I have now found an small item that I would like to buy, and am holding it in my hand to take it to the register.  However, again, this is not allowed.  Another clerk comes running up to me with a bag for me to carry the single pen in.  It really wasn’t that heavy, I swear!

In another store, I am looking at shampoo, trying to decide on which one I would like to buy.  A clerk comes to me and begins picking up each bottle and handing it to me for me to look at.  I really can reach my arm out to pick something up, I know I can!

Back home.  I have bought a big bag of dog food.  I have Mujeeb pop the trunk and go to retrieve it.  He pushes me aside and hoists the 25lb bag to his shoulder.  After having a heart attack a few weeks ago, you’d think he’d be a bit careful, but he ignores my admonishments and carries it to the door, where Suhdaker takes over and carries it over to the dog food bowl.  I carried 50lb bags of rock salt back home, for goodness sake!  My small grocery bags get the same treatment, and I only get the honor of carrying my own backpack because I’m clutching it firmly when I get out of the car.

The kids generally jump out of the car without their backpacks, and I have to fight Mujeeb to get him to let them carry them when I call them back.  I don’t want them to think that they can have someone wait on them hand and foot, but if I allowed it, they certainly would have just that…

Sometimes the kids don’t jump out of the car.  Sometimes they fall asleep before we get home.  Mujeeb makes a move to grab them and carry them to their rooms for me!  I put my foot down there.  Scott and I have both seen other people let their drivers do this, but we agree that it is our duty, our right and our privilege to carry our own sleeping children, and on this I will not compromise.  Mujeeb seems to know not to argue this one.

Yesterday Sudhaker followed Scott around the house while Scott was trying to put up some shower caddys in the kids bathrooms.  He was greatly distressed that Scott was doing this work himself, and kept trying to take the drill from him.  Scott was having none of it, and managed to put up the caddys on his own.  Amazing!

At school, I follow the lead of the other teachers who ask the maids to fetch them little things like an extra notebook.  I need a bucket of water for a math lesson on measurements.  The maids bring it up and have it waiting in my room.  I managed to sneak it back out and carry it and dump it myself when the lesson was over…Ha Ha!

I know it sounds crazy, but I really want to do some things for myself.  I miss it. What if I become weak?  Lose muscle tone?  Forget how to carry things??  Argh….just let me do SOMETHING myself!

I’ll show them all, though.  I’m planning to buy a bucket of paint and paint the bathroom all by myself.  I can’t wait to see the look on their faces! 🙂

In India, Children’s day is celebrated on November 14th.  The day is filled with special events geared for children.  I didn’t hear of this day until the afternoon before, and only because the teachers at school were planning a special surprise for the kids the next day.

At 1:00, the children gathered in the gym for the surprise.  The teachers and staff (myself included), dressed in authentic Indian clothing, danced a little dance and sang a song for the children.  The kids got a huge kick out of it.  The dance was not horribly well-rehearsed, and I was certainly one of the most pathetic dancers up there, but the kids didn’t seem to care.

The song:

Its a day, let’s be glad

and sing a song anew

Cares away let our happy voices

Rise to the sky

Wishing down, blessings meet

On you on this happy day

May you walk in the light of heaven.

We’ll sing a song of our own

That no one else has sung

All our cares we will leave

Far behind us today

And we Wish on this day

Happy Happy Children’s day

May you shine like a star in the sky.

May you have, you have

All fortunes ten times ten

May the Lord bless and keep you

For more years which are to come

Fill you Dreams with the sweet

Twinkling Bright days ahead

May you walk in the light of heaven.

The tune of the song is absolutely beautiful, but I was unable to find it online anywhere.  I have been humming it for the last 2 days now.

At around 7:00, the neighborhood ladies decided to get together and order pizza for all of the children.  We were invited to the clubhouse by a neighborhood child, and arrived to find a room filled with running kids and tons of pizza.  There are a ridiculous amount of children in our neighborhood.  It was very nice of the ladies to do that, and I got a chance to meet some neighbors I had not previously met.  Luckily no singing or dancing was required of me…I doubt I could embarrass myself like that 2X in one day.

Of course, Ender asked me where his presents were.  I had no knowledge of whether or not presents were traditionally given on Children’s Day, but apparently some of the neighborhood kids had asked him what he had been given, so he found out for me.  I told him that he would get his presents when Daddy got home, because I knew that we had 2 Wii games we had stashed away unopened for a rainy day.  When Daddy got home I explained the situation privately to Daddy, and we presented out children with their Children’s Day gifts.

It reminded me of a story that Scott’s mom, Jeanne, tells.  When she moved to Michigan, she had no knowledge of the midwestern tradition of St. Nick’s day on December 6th, a German tradition carried to the US where St. Nick comes on the night of December 6th and gives the children a stocking of candy and trinkets.  Scott and his sister came home crying from school that day, asking “Why didn’t St. Nick come to our house?  He left treats for everyone else!”

Next year I’ll be more prepared for it, now that I know about it.  However, every day around my house seems like Children’s Day to me, as the kids certainly have their fair share of fun and treats at all times.  I think its the same with most of the kids in our neighborhood.  It saddens me to think that the ones who really could use that special day never get to celebrate it at all.

Now its Ender’s turn.  His pictures are a bit different.  They were all taken while we were on our Delhi trip, but many of them were taken from the car window while we were on the 3 hour trip to and from Agra, where the Taj Mahal is located.  Here’s what he has to offer:

This is his photo of a restaurant we stopped in on the way to Agra
This is his photo of a restaurant we stopped in on the way to Agra
Apparently the souviners on display at the restaurant intrigued him
Apparently the souviners on display at the restaurant intrigued him
A photo of the crowded street (he was trying to get a picture of a green rickshaw)
A photo of the crowded street (he was trying to get a picture of a green rickshaw)
A motorcycle (or two-wheeler) as they are called here
A motorcycle (or two-wheeler) as they are called here
This cart has seen better days
This cart has seen better days
A bit blurry because we were moving, but I loved the lone lady on the corner

Here's a great one of a ridiculously overloaded cart
Here is a great one of a ridiculously overloaded cart
The red fence is striking.  I don't know if he was going for the fence or the flowering tree behind it
The red fence is striking. I am not sure if he was going for the fence or the flowing trees behind it.
He took this in Lodi Gardens in Delhi.  Perhaps it is his way of remarking on the pollution of the cities here?  Or, maybe he just liked the sign...
He took this in Lodi Gardens in Delhi. Perhaps it is his way of remarking on the pollution of the cities here? Or, maybe he just liked the sign...
Horse-drawn carts
Horse-drawn carts
I guess he has a thing for fences...
I guess he has a thing for fences...
This one is cool.  Its just a link from a chain link fence.  The sharp points intrigued the kids, and he wanted to take a picture of it.  I was amazed when I saw how well it turned out.
This one is cool. Its just a link from a chain link fence. The sharp points intrigued the kids, and he wanted to take a picture of it. I was amazed when I saw how well it turned out.

The last one requires a little background information.  As we walked around India Gateway in Delhi, these three boys became fascinated with Ender.  At first they were just curious at this strange and foreign little kid, but then they noticed the digital camera in his hand.  Each time he snapped a picture, they were leaning over his shoulder to see it display on the back.  He didn’t realize why there were following him and hanging over him, and began to get annoyed, until we explained to him why they were doing it.  He offered to take their picture, and they enthusiastically agreed.  He snapped this fabulous picture of them, and they were absolutely thrilled to see themselves in the display.  It was a really neat moment for all of us.

I will try to hand off the camera to the kids much more than I do.  They don’t have any of the hang-ups I do about photographing people and things.  They just take the camera and go with it.  It is that kind of attitude that has given us some of the most memorable photographs in history.

Lately, when we go out, the kids like to take the camera and start snapping pictures.  Its great to look through them, because you never know what you are going to find.  I snagged all of Addie’s pictures from Delhi and Taj Mahal for your viewing pleasure.  It’s great to see what an 8 year old finds photo-worthy.

Dogs are definitely one of her favorite subjects
Dogs are definitely one of her favorite subjects
Here are a few more
Here are a few more
Animals of any kind are an attraction for her
Animals of any kind are an attraction for her
Look closely and you will see another chipmunk
Pigeons at a feeder
Pigeons at a feeder
Landscape photos are also a hit
Landscape photos are also a hit, taken from weird angles
as well as flowers
as well as flowers
and more flowers
and more flowers
and a whole garden of flowers
and a whole garden of flowers

I have saved my 2 favorites for last.  These two pictures are strange in their topic, but show me that perhaps she has the makings for a very good photographer someday….

She told me that she liked how the stick looked, so she took a picture of it
The feather in the grass caught her eye. Nothing beats a good feather picture!

Next time on “The Fluegges” :  The Kids Take The Camera, Episode 2:  Ender

On Sunday, our family had the opportunity to attend a Cricket match hosted by Scott’s company.

Apparently, Ender has been playing Cricket in school during PE (I had no clue!), and knew a little about it.  He was eager to get out there and play a bit.  It appeared that he must have been taught about how to throw the ball, as he is well on his way to the crazy running and arm swinging thing that the throwers do.  Hitting wasn’t as great, but he’ll get it.

Scott played a bit too, but didn’t get in on the match at all this time around.

Being a non-sports person, I highly doubt that I’ll ever be “into” this game. After all, I’m the bizzare native Wisconsinite who couldn’t care less about football and the Green Bay Packers.  Still, it was nice to see what the game was all about.

Oh, and I’ve been told by Ender that he would like a Cricket Bat for Christmas.  Maybe I’ll have to get “into” Cricket after all….

This picture was taken while lying on the floor
This picture was taken while lying on the floor

Well, the inevitable finally happened.  After several months of close calls and worrying on my part, my little furball, Tiger, managed to lose his footing on one of the railings going upstairs and fall over 15 feet with an audible thud onto the marble tile below.

Ender witnessed the whole thing, and started yelling for me immediately, prompting a barrage of questions and a frantic search for the missing feline.  Tiger had high-tailed it off to the shelter of a corner chair, and resisted my attempts to grab him for several moments. Finally he gave in, and though he looked a bit stunned, he seemed no worse for the wear. I guess that cats really do land on their feet (or, at least, don’t take too much damage in a fall).

I’d like to think that he has learned his lesson, but I know better.  Let’s just hope that next time its not the 30 foot high banister.  I fear that he would not fare so well….he is awfully chunky, you know!

Here he is, looking no worse for the wear
Here he is, looking no worse for the wear

All this talk about Obama being the first “black” president of the US has prompted me to write about something that has been on my mind for some time.

A couple of months back, a series of strange billboards began appearing around Hyderabad.  Each one showed a person asking if anyone had heard about “Street Smart Sudhaker’s” new flat.  The billboard characters wanted to know the dirt, they had heard about his brand new digs, but didn’t know where or how and wanted the viewer to give them the gossip on Sudhaker.  There was even an email address where you could send any information that you might have.  Nothing appeared on the sign to tell you what particular builder these signs were for, but it was clear that it was an advertising campaign for a new development somewhere.

After over a month of this, the billboards suddenly changed overnight.  Each billboard now sported a new person looking positively overjoyed and ecstatic, with phrases like “Yes, yes, this is Street Smart Sudhaker’s new neighbor!”, or “Meet Street Smart Sudhaker’s new neighbor!”  Each one of these thrilled and over-excited people were 20 something’s.  Fine, they are trying to appeal to the younger home buyer, I can accept that.  But the thing that immediately drew my attention was the skin color of each of these individuals.  Every one of them were several shades lighter than the average citizen of Hyderabad.  It seemed that each and every one of Street Smart Sudhaker’s new neighbors was young and nearly “white”.  I’m not certain where they all came from, as even mixed marriage expats generally have children who are darker skinned than these people, but apparently they’re here and they are all living with Sudhaker.

What message is this sending to this nation’s children?  Why are these prejudices allowed to continue unchallenged in this day and age?  When will we learn to cherish each and every person, regardless of race, class, or creed?

I had not expected to find this here in India.

It appears that our two countries are not as different as they seem…..

Darkness had already fallen last evening as Addie was playing in the driveway with Beauty, throwing a ball and trying to get her to retrieve it (as normal retrievers are supposed to do but ours doesn’t).  Suddenly she called to tell me that she had lost the ball.  It had rolled out into the road and disappeared, presumably down the sewer.

Not having a flashlight readily available, I took the camera outside with me thinking that I could flash some pictures down there to see if it was right at the opening and reachable.

Now, the sewers on our street are home to lots of things. Stray cats live there, as well as emaciated stray dogs.  Bugs and spiders too, call this place home, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find snakes as well.  Its amazing that anything survives down there, as the sewers seemed to be lined with all the utility wires for the community…huge bundles of them run throughout the length of the road, with wooden access ports here and there, completely unsecured, of course.  The power DOES go out each and every time it rains, and the fact that all the electric wires are being submerged in a deluge of runoff may have something to do with it, but I’m just guessing.  Still, if the whole place was electrified, I imagine that those those stray dogs and cats would have been well roasted a long time back, so I just don’t know.

Anyway, I was faced with putting my hand down there to retrieve the ball, and I decided against it.  I wasn’t going to go feeling around in there in the dark.  Thoughts of rabid dogs, poisionous spiders and snakes and possible electrocution were more than enough to keep my away.

But I must admit, there was one final thought that kept me from retrieving the lost ball.  The whispers of “We all float down here” were going round and round in my head.  From the darkness I could almost see the shining eyes of that killer clown looking up at me, beckoning me to enter his world.  If you don’t read Stephen King, you’ll not understand this.  But if you do….  you’ll know.  You’ll just know.