This past week has been intense – to say the least… The plan was for my AP Partner Raka and I to leave Kathmandu and head out to Gaighat where I had spent last summer and she would spend this summer working with NESPEC. Then, after staying and visiting with my friends for a few days I would continue with my work on Uterine Prolapse. As is typical in Nepal, none of this happened the way it was planned.
We were prevented from leaving Kathmandu for almost a week (and what a strange, blister-filled week it was) as protest and strike after protest and strike prevented vehicles from moving on the streets of Kathmandu. The series of bandhas were conducted first by constituents of a local bureaucrat who had been shut in a toilet for 2 hours by a Maoist leader as punishment for his corruptness. They were then continued by members of the transportation sector protesting the hiked prices of oil and the government’s subsequent imposition of caps on the fares they were allowed to charge, followed by gas station owners who refused to sell any gas in protest to a cap the government was setting on the price at which they could sell oil. Finally they ended by student groups agitating to demand their student-fare reduction be increased to compensate for whatever fare hikes were enacted — ah the blessing of oil dependency!
Students Burning Tires in Protest
After being stranded in Kathmandu for days and missing the first 12 hour window that passed due to some wet laundry, we forged ahead with a plan to leave at the next chance we got – in spite of Raka’s uneasy stomach. At 5:30 am we borded a bus bound for Gaighat, only to drive 20 feet and be stopped by a man waving a flag and telling us that again, the roads were closed. Thank goodness Sanjita’s house was only a 20 minute walk from the bus station, as not a taxi was able to be found.
We camped out at Sanjita’s until 6pm when we finally boarded the bus, resigned to spend the entire night working our way toward Gaighat. We arrived around 7am the next morning, having endured blaring Nepali music (doubtlessly necessary to keep the driver awake), 3 traffic jams (one accident induced – not us), a monsoon torrent that managed to make its way inside the bus (and onto the top of my head), and an increasingly alarming problem with Raka’s stomach.
I thought getting out of Kathmandu and then the bus ride almost killed me… but it ended up being nothing compared to the first 24 hours of being in Gaighat. By some miracle and previously unbelievable fortitude Raka managed to contain her diarrhea for the entire busride from Kathmandu – however once we arrived, the severity of the situation became readily apparent.
The joyful reunions I had anticipated with my friends were tempered by my anxiety about Raka’s frequent trips to the bathroom and the helplessness I felt in the face of her increasing state of weakness and dehydration. Luckily, due to several liters of saline, antibiotics prescribed via phone by the traveler’s clinic in Kathmandu, and an outpouring of love and care from our extended Gaighat family that ranged from massages, to vigils, to a volunteer nurse who stayed up all night changing medication in her IV, Raka was on the mend within about 24 hours.
Now that all the physical and emotional recovery (for both of us) is complete, and the Kathmandu strikes and bus ride are a distant memory, it is absolutely incredible to be back in Gaight.
PSYCHED TO EAT for the first time in days…..Raka never looked so good!
Posted By Nicole Farkhouh ( Uterine Prolapse Alliance)
Posted Jun 29th, 2008