Indian Hospitals and Adrak Chai

Carly Nolan - India


October 2, 2019

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
rickshaw
. 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
infection)

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.

Carly Nolan