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A meager attempt to give you a small slice of updates . . .

August 13th, 2012 | dustin

A lot has happened. And I have been so very bad about telling you. I’ll start small.

My skin has been terrible since I’ve been here. The humidity, the pollution, the heat, the stress, the 7 months of travel—call it what you will, but it has. This fact is all the more tough to endure for Indian frankness. A man on the street our first week here asked us How we were liking India? After I was given a moment to respond, he gestured to my chin and forehead and said, Oh but this is very bad. You must not be able to stand the heat. People we know (only a little better) have also made it a topic of conversation, agreeing sympathetically that this city will ruin your skin (as it has, apparently, done to mine).

But I share this not to illicit sympathy. Indeed, I would prefer that most people—myself included—not preoccupy themselves with my skin. However, I came to a breaking [out] point a couple of weeks back. Urged onward by my mother, and a vague notion that perhaps a dermatologist could still be affordable in India, even without insurance, I went for it. A google search, a little agonizing, and a tough phone call later I had an appointment. For the next day.

I imagine that many people are apprehensive about seeing a doctor in another country. You just don’t want to mess with your health. Language barriers, and a lack of general knowledge, means that visiting a doctor could lead you and your health to a potentially grey area. And as a staunchly middle class american girl, I’ve always had (or always assumed I’ve had?) pretty great healthcare. Additionally, I’ve only really utilized those healthcare options when I’ve been dragged or pushed or prodded by, well, my parents. I haven’t seen a doctor since moving to LA. I don’t have a memory of ever going to a school nurse. So going to a doctor outside of the U.S., and going to a doctor in Kolkata in particular, felt like a big deal. [1]

And in all honesty, I have nothing but glowing reviews to report back. The medical tourism thing is a thing, and it is a great thing at that. For 500 rupees (< $10 usd, without any form of insurance), I went to see Dr. Arun Kumar Prasad; he listened to my problem, respected the fact that I would only be in the country for another month, prescribed me a course of medication that is comparable to the U.S. (and told me a couple of differences between U.S. Treatment and general Indian dermatology practices). He told me a couple of courses of action for when I return to America, the beautiful.[2]

And pharmacies. Pharmacies are another thing. Kiosk-style drug counters line every street. As Dustin experienced his first week, they will gladly dole out perscription-strength drugs without a perscription (a fact confirmed by my Kolkata dermatologist, who said “Any chemist or druggist will have this. No need to worry. It’s not like the U.S.”) And indeed, he was right. I did have to go to 3 separate kioscs to get my perscription in its entirety, but I was allowed to keep my written perscription. As in, I can cash that baby in whenever I damn well please. Clindamycin cream whenever I please?! Is this a dream???

Anyways, more (read: images also!!) to come. We’ve moved, I turned 21, we went to a rural village and hung out and talked to a lot of people. We crawled back to Kolkata by the skin of our teeth. I now have to write (a lot) and Dustin has to edit sound, photos, write code or whatever you do for websites. Things are/have been happening. They’ll probably continue to happen, and I’ll try to write about them here with less than a 2 week lag time.

August 1, 2012.

Written about (considerably later) on August 13, 2012

  1. [1] As did getting the vaccines in Buenos Aires before I left. But with a passport and about $12, you can get a lot done. Specifically, a yellow fever vaccine (free—but you get it in a warehouse/garage space across from a naval parking lot in Puerto Madero?), and a polio booster (a travel vaccine clinic 3 blocks from my house. Took 5 minutes. No lines. An argentina-miracle). Those vaccines would have been almost $200 in the US
  2. [2] Though folks, my skin won’t yet be the beautiful. These things take time. Specifically, 6-8 weeks

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