I just spent an hour lying on my bed, mentally making and re-making the perfect turkey sandwich. A rather odd pastime for a vegetarian, don’t you think? Cold turkey, a little mayo, cranberry sauce, leafy greens, a hearty white bread, this is what I want to eat 4 times a day every day for the rest of my life. Well, occasionally my sandwich fantasy is interrupted by dreams of a bacon and cheese sandwich on a fresh bap, but I’m guessing a lifetime of turkey is a lot healthier than a lifetime of bacon.
I think this unusual yearning for white meat is a result of being sick earlier this week. Did you know that your digestive system actually needs a surplus of water in order to work? Unfortunately, any surplus H2O in my body this week went straight into my pillow and mattress during the night. I was sweating so much at night that I could easily wring moisture out of my bedclothes every morning, making a little pool of wasted sweat on the floor. My room has been—I think quite literally—baking me to death. It is on the top floor of the hotel, and is detached on three sides, so it gets full sun on at least one wall all day long. Plus, the water tanks are on my roof. They gather heat all day long, and release it into my room all night long. The AC unit in my room stopped working a couple weeks ago, and even though I mentioned it to the Hosts, they didn’t seem to really understand what I was saying.
I’ll spare the blogosphere the details, but on Wednesday afternoon, I was suddenly and dramatically ill. For about two hours, I was quite seriously sure that I was going into full renal failure. When I finally dragged myself downstairs to the dining room, I must have looked pretty damn bad, because Mr. Host instantly went to work on my AC unit, and Mrs. Host started pouring glasses of watermelon juice with black salt for me. I managed to add some daal and rice to my stomach, but mostly I just used what little energy I had left to become a two-fisted drinker: water in my left hand, salted melon juice in my right hand.
After dinner, instead of walking across the street to see the doctor, I went back to my room to rest. The floor of my room was so hot, I couldn’t take off my sandals for fear of burning my feet, and the AC unit (actually, the voltage stabilizer, not the unit itself) still wasn’t working. I decided to sit out on the balcony—it was so lovely outside, with a nice breeze. Well, as it turns out, the surprise was that it was still 113F outside. My room was so hot that it made a hot summer evening feel like cool spring. I think even Mr. Host, who was trying to get the AC to work, was shocked by the heat in my room. I had mentioned it a few times, but I think it just sounded like White Person Whining, not a potentially dangerous situation.
Mr. Host couldn’t fix the AC, so he unlocked the room next to mine for me to sit in, with AC going full blast. I was going to sleep there if my AC didn’t get fixed, but just as I was getting ready to go to bed, an AC technician showed up, played a bit with the voltage regulator, and voila! suddenly the AC unit came to life. And I’ve spent the last three days moving slowly, trying to recover, drinking water non-stop, and wishing my body would return to its normal state of being. It’s a struggle, because we are still dealing with three-hour scheduled power outages every day, so even if I stay only five hours at the archives, that is three hours in a small, hot room with no air circulation, in the heat of the day. I can’t drink enough to keep up with the sweat, really.
You have to wonder: is grad school supposed to kill you? I mean literally, and not figuratively, speaking? I feel like I’ve engaged in so much risky behavior over the past four years, in India and the U.S.: falling asleep behind the wheel while commuting, going to conferences with whooping cough, eating tainted food, drinking bad water, riding motorcycles without helmets, playing games with heatstroke, talking to strangers, riding with drunk autorickshawallahs, traveling with people I don’t really know, etc. I know getting a Ph.D. is supposed to be hard, it requires a lot of sacrifice, a lot of suffering and a huge amount of work and worry, but really, should I be dead by the end of it? Because that’s kind of the message I’m getting these days.