Trip Start Jan 08, 2005
135Trip End Ongoing
Dear comrades cheer up! It is time to celebrate! Government of India has agreed and constituted 6th pay commission. Proposed strike by central government employees have been called off!
On the train ride we met some retired English seamen and some wives from Manchester. One of the wives said (put on your best Mancurian accent now) 'Aaaaahhhh luuv Calangoote aaaaahhhh doo, Aaaaahhhh Luuv it!'. They had come out last year for a month and loved it so much that they'd gone back to England then returned for another three months then gone home again, got another six month visa and were planning on buying a flat there!! I can see why they would do it (although it's not the place for me). It's cheap for them (on GBP), the weather is hot, there's a beach nearby, they live in a luxury apartment with everything they could want, hot water, aircon, laundry done for practically nothing. The food's cheap, and so is the beer (very important for the retired seaman). They said they were spending the kid's inheritance!! There was another retired seaman who had been coming to Goa for 10 years and had never, ever been anywhere else in India except Goa. His over-nighter to Hampi was his first trip out of Goa. When we asked him why he said his wife had loved Goa and when we asked where she was he replied, 'Divorced, so I can do what I like now!'. They were great people and had some fantastic sea-going stories to tell.
We got back to Panaji quite late and found a cheapie place to rest up. David was fading fast so next day off we went to try and find a doctor. We were eventually directed to Bindare Hospital. It was stinking hot too so dragging David round abouts wasn't doing a lot. The women at the desk has to be the most unhelpful medical receptionist I've ever had the misfortune to come into contact with. I pointed to David and asked if there was a doctor in the hospital that could help us explaining that he was very, very ill. He pretty much looked the part too keeled over on a chair. She said no, then one walked past. So I asked again. No there are no doctors here. I was getting frustrated now. So I said, 'So you're telling me there are no doctors in this hospital? No one that can help me?'. No. 'Are there any doctors in Goa that can help me?' No. So I thanked her for being so helpful and left.
Needless to say I was a bit concerned. We went back to our hotel and they suggested we go out to Bambolim Government Hospital. So we did. I'll give it to them, we were seen almost immediately but they didn't really check him over and seemed to disregard anything we said. A blood test later and armed with a bunch of prescription drugs for god knows what we went back to the Panaji drawing board. I went out for supplies which was very difficult as it was carnival and everyone was watching the parade. One to rival Rio I might add - not. There wasn't much more I could do for the moment so David sent me out to take pics of the parade. It was surreal to see and hear. I was in India surrounded by thousands and thousands of Indians watching Indians singing and dancing to Latin American music!! There was a lot of colour and sweat. The day was a scorcher! There were also some rural (rice planting) and educational floats (live chickens complete with syringes for bird flu and condoms) to add to the Indian flavour. They're very proud of their carnivals!
I couldn't get David to eat or drink anything and the accommodation wasn't quite up to scratch for a sick boy so we moved to a hotel just up the road. By this stage David had turned a nasty shade of yellow and couldn't walk so I rang a nurse friend in London who said to get him to a hospital NOW (Thanks Lisa)! Boarderline panic stations now!
The hotel boys had mentioned another place that sounded hopeful so I had the manager write it down as I couldn't understand what the boys were saying. It sounded like 'wantaj, wantaj' (head wobble, head wobble). I looked at the paper - Vintage Hospital!! Wouldn't have guessed that!!
The look of desperation on my face got me a rickshaw (after arguing and nearly crying) and luckily the dilapidated exterior of the building did not reflect the pink tiled interior. Thank god. They took one look, wobbled their heads a lot and admitted him immediately. They poked and prodded him with needles and butchered up his arm inserting a drip (after two attempts). I ended up scrunched up on the end of his bed for the night as he was so distressed at being there and being in so much pain, as you would be.
I must have looked a sight everyday wobbling my head and saying 'Wantaj, Wantaj" at rickshaw drivers. The word "Vintage" just didn't get me anywhere. They'd just look at me with their head cocked like a dog but as soon as I wobbled and said 'wantaj, wantaj' I was in!!
Even though it was a private hospital I was still amazed at the lack of organisation and how difficult it was to get things done for him. The nurses even tried to make me go to their pharmacy and get the medication!!!! Use your imagination for my response. It also took three moves to find a quiet spot for Old Yellow. The first mixed ward had a crying baby, a woman that used her mobile phone constantly and her daughter who played games on her mobile phone constantly. The next semi-private ward didn't fill me with inspiration either. As David was wheeled in the priest was at the next bed reading the patient his last rights!!! Then a child, it's mother and her gaggle of support female relatives moved in. They were using their mobile phones all the time and playing the ringtones to amuse the child. As you can imagine, the child was far from amused and just kept screaming. It was driving both David and I insane so I asked the head accountant (the only person who seemed to have any common sense in the place) to ask the women to turn their mobiles off please as David had a banging headache and needed piece and quiet to sleep. She looked at me as if I had just sprouted six heads and told her Santa was a fake! 'Oh, no. I could never do that!' she said. So I requested to be moved again. The only place they could find was a disused un-airconditioned shoebox with a big hole in the window. Oh well, at least it was sort of quiet.
You can't say hospital food is bad until you've experienced something like this. The only thing that David was allowed to eat, let alone stomach, was eggs and bread. Not appetite encouraging. After five days, and in time for my birthday, he was discharged. The final prognosis was Hepatitis E. Not very common and there's nothing you can do about it and no vaccine. It's not as serious as Hep B, C or D and for those who want to know, it's contracted through contaminated water and food. We decided we needed to fly home for some TLC, and soon.
The hotel manager had been fantastic and asked each day how he was and said he would pray for him every day (he was catholic). One day he gave me a lift up and came in to make sure everyone was doing what they should. He was great. Even the cheap hotel manager man would wave every day and ask after David.
For my birthday I had booked a table at a lovely little place with balconies and strawberry daiquiris. I had a great dinner and David managed to eat three small courses!!! The strawberry daiquiri was marvellous ! I had also found time in between picking David up, booking flights, finding food and paying the hospital bill to get to the best bakery in town for a choc fest of cakes!
The whole thing had been such and ordeal for both of us and I was glad to be flying home to get David sorted out. We were actually supposed to stay in Goa for another 10 days and go for another blood test and check-up but we just wanted out. Tomorrow we're on our way to Mumbai for two nights then on to good old Sydney.