I’m writing this post on June 22nd 2015. I’d like to make that clear: I’m not going to be able to post this on time tonight and I’ll have to wait until tomorrow morning.
I’ve completely given up trying to secure Internet access via a Sim card and dongle – the lengthy paperwork to register and buy a Pay As You Go 3G SIM, after waiting uncertainly for ages for someone competent and confident enough to serve me and all my tech, is all negated after three months for foreigners anyway.
I no longer spend the afternoon recuperating in Mumbai before venturing out into the countryside the following day: it was making me feel too guilty that I was wasting my time in luxury rather than going directly to see my mum.
I’m sure the nighttime staff and security guards here at the Dignity Lifestyle resort would be only too happy to oblige the internet cravings of this peculiar creature who travels on her own, seems to understand them, but only replies in English. Frankly, though, I’m just feeling too knackered to put on my churidar, trying through the fug of tiredness to arrange the churries into some sort of order, to take my laptop down and sit outside Reception whilst they go and fetch the router from the euphemistically-named Internet cafe.
“Why are you so tired Gita?” I hear you ask. Surely splashing out on a business class ticket for your trips to India would secure you, on Emirates Airlines at least, a lie-flat bed and a comfy mattress on board the A380, a futuristically comfortable flying experience?
Well, that would be my thinking too, and, to be fair, despite being notoriously unable to sleep anywhere but in my own comfy bed, I usually manage to catch some rest on the overnight flight to Dubai. Last night’s plane however, had the ventilation system roaring away at full tilt when I boarded the aircraft with the result is that most of my part of the cabin was up all night sneezing, blowing noses, snorting away and generally trying to achieve more comfort for their desiccated respiratory systems. As an asthmatic and suffer of hayfever my delicate nasal mechanism is under stress at this time of year anyway and the dry cabin air played havoc with my sinuses. It really wasn’t stylish. Still, enough about me and my illnesses.
India in the monsoon is a completely different landscape proposition from the rest of the year. Western Maharashtra, the bit down the coast anyway, is commonly deluged, and floods are a fact of life here in the monsoon period from June 15 to October 15 every year. Everything is suddenly washed with green. As I type, a warm breeze is gusting outside my window. It’s really refreshing.
I find that the new road networks that they’ve been carefully laying thought the last year and a half since I’ve been coming here have had parts of them washed away and large potholes have appeared in tarmac that was only tamped down by vast rolling machines a few months ago. Unlike in Britain however, Health and Safety does not appear to be king here, and roadworks are carried out in the middle of brisk and crazy driving on the four-lane highway, with only a few metres in the middle-of-the-road coned off while workmen stand about watching the repair machines do their work.
The animals are out as well. I’ve never seen so many street dogs around. Of course I’m aware of their presence at other times year, but normally they confine themselves to stretching out in any shade they can find from the glare of the sun, intermittently grubbing around to find food while dodging rickshaws and Public Carriers that vomit clouds of black diesel fumes.
Once, in a taxi driving through Pune, I caught sight of a dog wandering into the middle of the road in the midst of the chaotic traffic to squat and defecate. An example of efficient recycling, his huge poo was immediately splattered and cast to the four winds by a BEST bus.
Death is inevitable though when the dogs are enjoying the freshness brought by the rains, and the sad sight of the bloodstained, splattered corpse of a puppy at the side of the road, as we would see a fox cub or badger, make me long to be with my own beloved pooches.
There are calves around too and it’s true, they do wander in the street. The traffic always swerves to avoid them. On my arrival here at Dignity this afternoon I caught sight of the brilliant blue wing flashes of some sort of bird. It looked too large to be Kingfisher and I didn’t catch sight of its bill to identify it but perhaps that’s what it was.
I dropped my bags in my room and went immediately to see my mum. To my delight she recognised me immediately and seemed almost cogent for awhile, asking me when I’d come; where I was staying; how I’d got here. She’s obviously very pleased to see me.
Today she was wearing a pristine Churidar kurta, her fingernails painted in a sparkly orange nail polish, possibly one of the ones that I brought last time. Among all the other sitting, wondering old ladies I briefly considered whether her dementia is not sufficiently advanced prior to be locked up in this place. But that feeling didn’t last long: she soon reverted to the endless repetition and confusion to which I have become accustomed.
It seems that the downward trajectory of dementia is not a steady curve, rather, it goes down in sudden, steep, steps. It look like my mum is still on the same step as last time. She looks well, however. Her COPD seems well-managed and there are few traces of the arthritis in her knees that caused her so much pain in our damp, cool, overcast country. I’m hugely thankful for this on her behalf.