Wednesday, May 24, 2006

So, I've finished all my jabs for India (Hep A booster, polio booster), and am halfway through my typhoid regimen, which is making me sick every other day. I start the anti-malarial meds the day before I leave. You'd think no one had ever traveled to India and lived to tell about it the way the travel clinic goes on about all the paths to death in South Asia ($500 for a preventative series of rabies shots? No thanks.). Part of me wanted to JUST SAY NO to the polio booster just because I was irritated at the doom-and-gloom tone of the nurse, but I'd probably be the one person to catch polio in Jaipur this year if I went through with that plan.

I have tons of stuff to do before I leave on June 8. Most importantly, I need to write a paper proposal and re-work said paper in case it gets accepted (the paper is due the week I get back if accepted. It's already written, but needs at least one more re-write). But I find myself endlessly distracted by this whole India thing. I visit Indiamike obsessively. I try not to visit Beth obsessively, but it seems possible that she is exactly as distracted as I am, and therefore good company. I've read the Ramayana. I've read travel advice from Lonely Planet, Rough Guide, and Footprints. I have watched every Hindi film within reach, and some. I even joined up at a local video store last weekend because neither the local libraries nor Netflix can keep up with my Bollywood demands. (As a side note, Netflix is starting to really, really suck. They are so not earning their money, and if they keep up this super slow service, I'm leaving).

I was trying to figure out how Beth managed to spend $600 to prepare for her trip to India. So far, I've spent about $70, and $25 of that was on clothes. I guess she's probably buying more clothes than I am since I will have a clothing stipend to spend on arrival. Also, I realized today that my $70 doesn't include the $200 or so I've spent at the stupid travel clinic. Nor does it include the $90 I spent on the visa ($60 for the visa, $30 for postage). I have to buy a few gifts for my host family (hard to buy when you have never met any of them), and I need to buy a notebook and pens/pencils for class. And some water purifying tabs (once I decide what kind I really want to use for two months). Other than that, I'm good. [ETA: I just spent $30 on water purifying tabs, so I'm quickly catching up to Beth. I don't really like the taste of purified water, but it's a lot more convenient--not to mention environmentally friendly--to purify water instead of chasing after bottled water every day. Also, a shout out to Grayson, whose last name I don't know, and about whom I had more or less forgotten until I re-read one of my old travel journals this weekend. Grayson, who had the room across from ours in the Dvorets Molodezhi in Leningrad (1988), taught me two important things: 1) never pack more than you're willing to carry; and 2) always take Kool-Aid for a break from that purified water taste.]

I am more or less following Travelling Tim's packing advice, leaving out a few things that seem specific to rambling. I have a mosquito net, but I'm not going to take it. Since I'm staying in one place for two months, I'll just have one made to fit whatever bed I'll be sleeping in after I get there. It doesn't have to be lightweight because I won't be carrying it around. Most of the things on his list I already have, though, purchased long ago either for our Thames Path ramble, our trip to Costa Rica, or one of our annual camping trips. In fact, I'm still re-using (for at least the sixth time) the gallon freezer bags we used for waterproofing on the Thames Path. Today I even tossed two things on the "take to India" pile that first traveled with me to the Soviet Union in 1988. Is that good or bad?

My last task is to put together my own guide book. Printing is free for Catherine at the university library, so we're going to print everything I might need, and bind it together with some stuff I've photocopied. I've made a six-page photo album of "life at home" to include, so my host family will have some idea what I've been up to over here. I've also copied a lot of pages out of books to bind into a research volume on the jantar mantar. Hindi text books will be purchased in Jaipur. I can't think of anything I've forgotten, but that is probably because...well...I've forgotten it.

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