Thursday 21 April 2011

Life sans phone, baths, bed, and many other things

I missed being here and interacting with all of you. Chicken pox, a viral infection, cut me off from my usual activities and confined me. By force, I had to create a world wherein I dwelt with my thoughts and more thoughts. Since computer, and other gadgets could potentially cause a strain on me, I was kept away from all of them. For the first time in my adult life I experienced a different kind of living sans baths, mattress, spicy food and other things. But I must admit that being with my head for company was not always welcome.

But there were many interesting things that happened. Chicken pox, in these parts of southern India, is usually viewed as possession by a goddess known as Mariamman. People here believe that she has caused the pustules and therefore must be treated well. The person who helps us in our household chores was very reverent towards me. I found that a bit stifling. People are advised not even to look into the  face of the person who has contacted chicken pox. While there were many instructions for me, I would like to narrate some of the quirky ones: no brooms, footwear, mirrors and combs are to be allowed in the room where I was quarantined. I was warned not to see the mirror as it would induce fear within me about the way I look. This would eventually anger the goddess. The goddess detests any form of cleanliness and so cleaning agents like water and broom were not allowed anywhere near me. I was only allowed to keep a bottle of water for drinking.

Eventhough these practices seem obscure in today's world, I could see some sense in them. It is also strange given the different religious sects we belong to, one has a combination of beliefs that one chooses to take and discard. Another person who frequents our house, though is a Roman Catholic, believes in the rituals and respect that shrouds the viral infection, chicken pox. Inspite of her being a strong practitioner of Catholicism, she had a list of do's and don't's for my mother, when she knew that I was infected with chicken pox.

Well, I also managed to pick up a book which had been lying for a long time in my book-shelf, Mark Tully's India in Slow Motion, which talks of the corruption that exists everywhere in India, thus causing the country to move in slow motion, inspite of its many progresses. What a fitting book to read in times of chicken pox!

Life goes on.

What has been happening with you? It might take some time for me to visit your blogs and interact but I will be back to scan your words and thoughts.



  1. Hope you are recovering well? Missed your posts.. Am sure you are ready to break away and enter the world by now! take care

  2. I have missed you while you have been absent :( Having Chicken Pox as an adult is usually so much worse than having as a child. When I was in nursing, I can remember adult patients tell me they wished they had just gotten the pox when they were kids. They say the pain is intensified. I have never had them and hope that I never do :) Hope that you are soon back on your feet and feeling 100%!

  3. i am glad it sounds you are on the back side of this...had chicken pox as a child...yeah there is some sense it seems to the rules, interesting to read though...and a great excuse to pick up a neglected book too...

  4. OH! To be left alone with my own thought-filled head. What a wonderful horror that can be--for me.

    Please know, Susan, THIS Peep HAS been thinking of you, wondering. Each day--this is true--each day, I say to self, "I hope Susan is OK, God. Please take care of her."

    And so maybe you DO know how HAPPY I am to see you back on the mend. I/we are all here still waiting for you, as are the saints in heaven (NEITHER a comparison NOR 'identity'--grin!)

    Welcome back to this tainted world, painted now by us--sans brush (or broom!)....
    LOVE and PEACE!
    Steve E

  5. Hello Susan:

    Well, it's the beginning of the Easter Holiday (Glad Påsk in the Swedish language) here in Sweden. Good Friday translates to long Friday in Swedish and this seems more appropriate a name for this day at least from Christ's point of view. Only had a half day of work and not back to work until Tuesdays.

    As far as beliefs, modern medicine has many crazy ideas also if one looks honesty and thinks about it a bit.

    Take care and have a lovely weekend,
    ps: A beautiful photo for you:

  6. Hope I cannot catch it from you by reading your blog, can I? Anyway, I hope all is well with you now!

  7. Wish you a speedy recovery....!! God.. Chicken pox is bad.. Never knew there were so many beliefs around it! :P

  8. Seems to me that when we are ill it really is wise to stay away from technology, just dedicate our energy to healing. Truth be told, pustules and mirrors don't really belong in the same sentence let alone the same room.

    I hope that you are doing much better. Funny how even a week can seem like a long long time when one is missing one of one's favorite bloggers. Stay well!

  9. in old testament there are many unclean food qouted. In reality they are really unhealthy. I think the old laws may look like a superstition today..but there may be sense

  10. Hi, Susan. I had chicken pox when I was a child. I hope you feel better and hope that you are not in much, if any, pain. <3

  11. I had heard of many of these dos and don'ts when my uncle got chicken pox way back in 1965.
    Surprised that its still going around (both the CP and the dos and donts)
    That book was a God send at the time of Anna Hazare I suppose.

  12. As I have seen often in our dermatology department, chickenpox is dreadfully worse when it happens in adults, so it's best to have had it when still a child or even better, to be vaccinated for it in childhood.

    I remember feeling horribly weak and terribly itchy when I had it at the age of eight.

    But of course, these strange practices are persistent in the less-developed parts of our state also, not just in southern India.

    Bathing with a few drops of antiseptic to prevent infecting the pustules or if not that, then in hot water with crushed neem leaves is what we advice.

    Hope you're recovering well. I cannot imagine being able to tolerate an illness in the isolation of quarantine. I am so used to having people fuss over me when I take ill.

    To have false beliefs with only just a little hint of logic in them crop up around illnesses is not uncommon.

    To this day, people believe those with psychiatric illnesses to be possessed by ghosts that need to be exorcised by shamans or priests depending on their religious persuasion.

    Of course, in our country, cultural milieu has always had an influence on religious beliefs also.

    I am well and safe from chickenpox atleast tho herpes zoster or shingles is what you and I need to watch out for since the reactivation of the same dormant virus causes it.

    And strangely, know what? They dont believe the further manifestation of the illness to be because of the Goddess tho the virus doesnt really change :D

  13. Hop you fully better soon mate. Missed ya, you take it easy ;)

  14. I guess I had chicken pox as a child too... More common and less awful, I believe.

    I am glad it's all over now... ANd i know it takes time to REALLy get over an illness. I mean your body heals but your mind keeps dizzy for another while.
    So take it easy and warm hugs
    I've been terribly busy, only free these days for Easter- and then back to war, sorry, i meant, to 'school' :-))))

  15. Ah is that why you were MIA. Hope you are recovering well. I didn't know about the whole religious connection with chicken pox...made me smile. It's annoying though having chicken pox...I had it when I was 7 and remember how frustrating it was.

  16. WELCOME BACK...missed your comments on my status..take care of yourself.

  17. Hi we have never met,,I am now following you.. I was sorry to hear about the pox but it was very interesting to hear about the customs in India and I have to admit they do sound strange but then I am sure some of our customs seem strange to you lol. I'll keep a good thought for you stay health!!

  18. Savira:

    Taking gentle steps, one by one. But getting tired quite quickly. Gald to see your comment and reply too.


    That is what everyone remarks. Glad to be able to be reading your comment, Mary.

  19. Brian:

    Yes, Brian. Good to be healthy. The book was worth it. Hop you have been well, Brian.


    Glad to be back, Steve. Steve, thanks for your kind words, Steve. They brought a smile to my weary face.

    Joy always :)

  20. hello, susan! I keep logging in to see if there's a post in your blog. I hope you are well now. Take care.

  21. interesting beliefs and rituals. My grandmother had a whole list of them. After given birth a woman was kept in a room, all windows closed and blinds down so no fresh air nor light from outside could come in. If it did, she would forever suffer of migraines and all kinds of ailments. She was not allowed to shower for 40 days...only sponge bath and she ate chicken every day.
    Chicken pox is no joke as an adult.
    Wishing you a quick recovery.

  22. I hope you recover completely and quickly. I have had a rough month myself. I have been to the doctor more times in the past three weeks than in the past three years.

  23. Mike:

    Thanks for your visits and comments. they do mean a lot to me. I wish you the best in everything and thanks for the beautiful card. I wish you a happy Ester :)


    Ha ha, no you won't get the virus. Too far to travel. I am much better now.

  24. Sameera:

    Thanks Sameera. There are many other beliefs as well, whic would be too long if I had added in this post :)

    Observer of Souls:

    Thanks for the lovely words. I am much better now. Shall soon swing by your lovely blog. Until then, peace and love :)

  25. John:

    Your observation is quite true. Beliefs that seem quirky to the modern man/woman, actually has sense, if we care to dissect the roots.


    Much better now, Jean. Thanks for coming by and wishing me well. It does mean a lot.

  26. Joe:

    1965!!!! Now, that's a long time, by Jove. CP is the only infection for which they haven't found a vaccine yet.
    The book, I honestly think so that it is god sent.


    I did not have it as a child and hence now. Neem leaves figure in every belief, I see. Even all the other people told me so. In fact, I was sleeping on a bed made with neem leaves.

    And now I am much better. Thanks for that long and informative comment, dear Karishma. It is always a delight to read your comments and posts as well.

  27. Charles:

    Easy all the way :)


    Missed you, Dulce. Hope you are doing just fine. I missed reading your posts and of course the images but I guess, you weren't posting as well. So, I didn't miss anything much on your blog :)

  28. PB:

    MIA: sounds like a soldier who went missing in action. The war, this time is Chicken pox! Lucky you, who had it while young.

    Hope you have been well and happy :)


    Thanks for the warm wishes. Glad to be back :)

  29. Jim:

    Of course you have been following me for some time now. A penny for your thoughts, dear Jim.

    Joy always :)


    Thanks. Glad to see you here.

  30. Myriam:

    Eating chicken everyday seems good!


    Thanks Angie. I wish you good health and lots of warmth. Happy Easter to you and your family.

    Joy always :)

  31. All's well that ends well, Sus. In my case, I'm still in my sick bed.

    I've been to a Mirriamman temple in Saigon. It was so spooky I didn't even take photos. I got out as fast as I could!

  32. Well, if it's any consolation to you, Ive been recently visited by the ''old lady'', the common cold which left me in bed with watery eyes and nose, mild fever and a headache. She always visits me at this time of the year when I start cleaning the house for Passover.

    Interesting beliefs/customs about chickenpox in India!
    I wish you a quick, smooth recovery, Susan!

  33. Age:

    Get well soon. Missing you in action. There is a temple like that in Saigon!?!?!? Amazed.

    Get back fast to the world of blogs and Faceboook.


    Thanks DUTA.

    Hope you are well now and so is your house after the cleaning.

    I wish you a happy Easter.

  34. Hi Susan!

    Yeah, Chicken Pox is not merciful to adults....i remember my mom saying she had got it when she was 21 and giving her final year exams of degree was difficult...
    I'd suffered from this infection when i was 8 or 9...i was shocked to see my face in the mirror when i had the strength to get up. But, my family didn't follow any rituals...Neem leaves were my saviours, i used these to itch the boils...

    Anyway, take care and get well soon! I'm looking forward to what you'll post next ;)

  35. "Don't scratch" that you mom? Well that is the advise my mom would have for you. Hope your all pokked out.

  36. Sohini:

    I have neem leaves to itch as well <3.


    This advice is given to me by all who hear about my CP tale.

    I wish you a blessed Easter, GQ.

  37. Susan dear - hope you are feeling better now. i had chicken pox when i was about 10 i think and one of the scars on my tummy looked like a mudskipper's eye. That one was my favorite : ). In the meantime I am led to believe that most of these superstitions (if you will) have some deep rooted logic in it that prevented the situation from worsening in the olden days. People gave it the name of goddesses and dressed it with fear so that they were followed to the core. Mark Tully though - he's the man!

  38. Kriti:

    Doing much better now. Thanks. Glad that the virus caught you while as a kid :)Even I think that the rituals do have some need-based logic which is hard to deny.

    Mark Tully, gives an insider's view to so many things :)

    Hope you've been well and happy.

  39. Well I am glad you are feeling better. In Indonesia, we have that same sorta thing because of the different religions and cultures that have contributed to the traditions.



Related Posts with Thumbnails