i'm back in bangalore. this is my 4th and final day here. i've been cozying up with the girlfriend, visiting the doctor for my latest malady, and planning the next leg of my journey from the office. it's nice to have a familiar base of operations.
a long time ago, it had crossed my mind to do this in every country. i figured i could hook up with a girlfriend in each country i visited, and perhaps marry the top 3 (i didn't want to stretch myself too thin) and start families. i had rose in china, phoung in vietnam, and juan in laos (yes, juan is a woman). i never found a candidate in malaysia/singapore, but i was a cripple then, and chicks don't dig cripples.
what stopped me? who can say for sure. perhaps marrying a woman willing to trade sex for financial security seemed somehow unappealing to me. perhaps i'm not a bigamist at heart. after all, it's a big step to go from 0 to 3 wives, just like that.
my girlfriend here is not of this ilk, lest anyone think otherwise. she is a proper girlfriend, mostly, though her head is filled with ridiculous notions.
last night, she explained to me that american english is trash. that the queen's english is the only proper english. i explained that american english is largely the result of removing the dopey and/or gay things from british english. for example, all of those superfluous u's in words like 'colour'--we, sensibly, got rid of them. she had a counter-example. she said said the brits say 'give me', while the proper american word, apparently used by american authors and listed in american dictionaries is 'gimme', proving what animals we are. i have no idea where she gets these ludicrous notions, but she gets them regularly. i responed by pawing her and insisting she 'gimme a big kiss with them purty lips of [hers]'. she was overcome by a mix of shock and embarassment, though i'm sure she secretly likes it. i horrify her like this on a regular basis, which is a big reason i enjoy being with her. you practially have to offer up a surprise cleveland steamer to shock a woman back home.
on to my current health problem--in kerala one morning i noticed pus oozing from my eye (actually a guy i met on a ferry pointed it out to me). icky. my diagnosis: eye infection. 2 days later, my ear hurt. my diagnosis: ear infection. hmm. at this rate soon my entire head would be one big infection. so i went to the doctor where i happened to be: varkala, a smallish beach town. surely the doctor, with his experience and skills and his fancy ear-o-scope (or whatever it is they call that thing) would be able to figure out the problem and fix me up.
the hospital staff were shocked to see the white man. i got the vip treatment, catapulting ahead of the waiting masses. or this is how it appeared to me. i felt bad about this, but not bad enough to protest. i wan't looking forward to the invasive ear exam, but my fears were misplaced. the doctor whipped out a massive silver eveready flashlight whose D cells were obviously nearly dead, and directed the "beam" aka mood lighting into my ear. he parroted back my suggestion that i had an ear infection. he sent me across the street to the eye doctor, who looked at my eye with a flashlight that might have been even worse. i doubt my pupils even budged. he concurred: "infection". for good measure, he had me read some letters off the wall to make sure i hadn't gone blind and wasn't telling him.
the two doctors got together with me and gave me 2 kinds of pills and two kinds of drops (ear & eye) and insisted that i must not swim. great. here i was at varkala beach, with nothing to do but swim, and now i wasn't able to do that.
my ear pain got worse, then better with the antibiotics. i arrived in bangalore and a day later my hearing went out in the infected ear, and a day after that the pain returned. today i went to a doctor, who, by contrast to the kerala doctor shoved a stick deep into my ear (though it felt like he may have hit brain). ouch. he removed the stick, looked at it as if checking a car's oil level, and pronounced: "infection". he then shoved the invasive ear-o-scope in there and determined that my ear drum was punctured. I wanted to ask "before or after you shoved that stick in there?" but i held my tongue. he told me it's likely the puncture will heal within 10 days and my hearing will return to normal. if not, my drum will need to be "patched". god forbid. he also pointed out that any drops i put in my ear will pass though the hole in the drum and run down my throat. so apparently i have been drinking ear drops for the past few days. yumm.
finally, i've been planning the next stops on my trip. at last i am venturing north. i'm flying to ahmedabad tomorrow, a jumping off point to rajasthan, home to so many of the touristy must-sees. i will make my way east to agra (taj mahal) and dehli and beyond until i reach bihar, the wild west of india, where a man will kill another man for 20 rupees, or a woman for 10. here i will catch a flight to burma, assuming the military junta running the place lets me in. or at least this is the plan du jour. what happens after that is unclear.