Indian Hospitals and Adrak Chai

My first month here in
India, in regards to health, has been an interesting experience to say the least.
I have consistently been a favorite snack for Pune’s entire mosquito population,
been to the hospital twice, been prescribed 7 different medications, and drank
a few too many cups of adrak chai (ginger tea).

I know you’re all very
concerned after reading that I had two hospital visits and before you furiously
text me (over WhatsApp because my US number is not in use) asking if I’m okay,
let me explain. I’ve had a very consistent diet for the past year-or-so and the
sudden switch from typical American food to dishes made with chilies and spices
I’ve never heard of was not an easy transition for my body. I started getting
little red spots on my arms and legs, but thought they were just bug bites until
they grew into large, red hives. I sent a picture to my team leader and I went to
see the Global Citizen Year doctor at the hospital she was at the same day. A
couple days later, my seemingly normal cold had lasted a little longer than it
usually would at home and I had developed a fever, so cue the second visit to
the Global Citizen Year Doctor at the hospital. Turns out I also had an upper
respiratory infection, probably due to the air pollution, and was prescribed antibiotics
in addition to the medicine already prescribed for the hives issue.

I spent the next few days
after my second hospital visit taking my medicine, sleeping, and drinking lots
of adrak chai. All was good until I started feeling nauseous and felt my
stomach cramping after meals. Fast forward to the next morning when I got so nauseous
my body tried to puke out the empty contents of my stomach. Later that night
after spending the day wandering the streets of Pune with a friend, my host
mother knocks on my door saying “It’s adrak!” Turns out, ginger is a
natural cleanser and it’s possible to over-cleanse your insides. Needless to say,
I wasn’t drinking anymore adrak chai for a while.

A few good things and a
whole lot of realizations came out of these few weeks so in the usual fashion, here’s
a list:

Hospital bills and medicine
are VERY affordable
. My hospital bill was 750 and all the prescriptions
came out to about 
300, which converted, is a whopping total
of about $15.

Pro tip: cover your
nose and mouth with a scarf when walking on the street or travelling on a
. You see a lot of local women using this trick and although it’s usually
used to protect against the sun, it’s also a very convenient way to protect
yourself from the excessive car fumes (and to avoid an upper respiratory

Switch your chai up.
Although I love my adrak chai, masala chai and just your
basic cup of chai are also very delicious.

Nariyaal Paani (coconut
water) cures everything
. Not only is it a perfect refresher on a warm day,
it’s also packed with nutrients that will cure your sickness in a couple days. You’re
also never far from someone selling coconuts on the street, but if they try to
sell it to you for 50, go to the next guy.