Being sick is useless when you have nobody to look after you. I can confess, I like falling sick sometimes. I’m sure a lot of us with a routine life and a comfortable home and someone to look after them do. It’s a break from your routine life then. You sit at home all day, watch feel good movies through the afternoon, sleep a lot, wear pajamas and get fed simple food. And every once in a while, someone asks you how you’re feeling and if they can do anything for you. That’s when being sick is worth it. But when you’re far far away from home, when you don’t know anybody well enough to have them take care of you, (Now don’t get me wrong here, I have friends here. It’s just that I’ve known them for about a month and I’m not really that sick. I had a bad headache all of yesterday and a headache and a fever on Tuesday but I’m mostly fine today and I didn’t go to a doctor or anything), and when you don’t know what doctor to go to or even how the medical system works in the country you’re in and you have anybody to take you to the doctor, it’s not worth it.
If I was in Bombay, I’d have gotten an appointment yesterday and then walked down to the other side of the 1st Cross Lane in Lokhandwala Complex and paid my family doctor a visit. Because that would have made me feel a lot better. Here, I didn’t know the first thing about where to look for a doctor. My boss told me that I can either try to get an appointment with a local doctor, which could be 4-5 days later, or I could go to an ER where they’d make me sit for 4-5 hours before I’d get anything done and that I have medical insurance for up to $10,000 with a deductable of $100 (I’m not sure what that means.) And I swear, next to me mom and my best friend back in Bombay, he did the most to make me feel better.
If you remember that one old Vicks Vaporub commercials, where they claim that the touch therapy helps, they’re damn right. It’s much better when you don’t have to rub the Vicks on yourself. If you’re ever going to go live far away from home, take this piece of advice. Write down exactly what you’re going to do and where you’re going to go and who you’re going to call if you fall sick there and stick it on your fridge or something. Because here’s the thing about living in a whole new place. You don’t know how to go about doing almost anything. You don’t know what to buy at the supermarket, which cereal, which brand of milk, which brand of eggs, you don’t know how the weather’s going to change, when to carry a sweatshirt, when to carry an umbrella (here in New York, the weather’s unpredictable as fuck. It can be 30°C one day and 23°C the next. When it rains, most of the time it gets warmer. 25°C can feel colder that 22°C even when it’s sunny because it’s THAT windy), you don’t know which bus or train to take to go somewhere, you don’t know where to go to chill on a Friday night, you don’t know if you can be in the middle of nowhere at 11pm and try to find your way home, you don’t know how long the days are and when the sun rises and when it sets. You can’t even tell what time of the day it is by looking at the sun because it never passes even close to overhead.
All of this not knowing and exploring and trying new things and even most of the getting fucked over by doing the wrong thing is fun and exciting most of the time. It’s always fun and exciting in the start. Change is always fun and exciting in the start. That’s what the honeymoon period is all about, remember? But there’s this thought at the back of my head which formed only a while after I got here, and for another while it was easy to suppress by doing more fun exciting things. This thought was a want for the comfort of old routines to fall back on, the comfort of home. But being stuck in this house for the past two days (I haven’t been going to work since I’m sick) doesn’t allow me to suppress that thought anymore. I’ve already counted the number of weeks I have until I come back. I didn’t count days because the days are too many, and the number of weeks sounds really small knowing how fast weeks fly when I work 5 days a week and then go out in the city on the weekends.
Oh, Bombay, I miss you so much and I want to come back. I don’t want it to be this way though. I don’t want to want to come back. I want to enjoy the little time I have left here. I want to finish what I came here to do before I go back. (I’m not sure what I came here to do but it doesn’t feel like it’s done) I still haven’t seen American Idiot on Broadway, I still haven’t driven a car here, I still haven’t been to the Rockefeller Center or the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty. Yes, I’ve never been one for doing these touristy things, but I still want to do all these things once. The whole time I’ve been here, I have only seen the face of a friend I knew from before I came here once. And that was for 3 days, and that was almost 4 weeks ago. You’ll never know how this feels until it happens to you, because I can’t explain how something as trivial as not seeing the face of a friend or a parent or a sibling for long enough can make a difference. I’ve been smiling at most of the Indians I’ve passed on the street today. I’ve felt like starting conversation with some of the uncles and aunties, the same uncles and aunties that I’d been avoiding when I just got here. I was watching a video of Tough on Tobacco play at Cafe Goa, and I swear I got goosebumps. Because it’s Cafe Goa! It’s Bandra! It’s Bombay.
I honestly thought I wouldn’t get homesick. I thought I wouldn’t be here long enough. I thought new York was so much like Bombay that I’d feel right at home. I guess all of this is amplified by my being sick, but it’s true, I’m homesick. I don’t want to need to think so much before doing simple things, I want to be able to know exactly where to go for everything and get it done in 5 minutes. I don’t want to keep having to plan things to keep me from getting bored and homesick and depressed. I don’t want to have a list of 5 one-month-old-friends, all of whom I have to call when I want to do something fun. I want to have friends who will call me for fun things to do when I don’t have the energy to find them and I want friends who’s places I can just go and sit at and do nothing and still be entertained. I want to have a damn car that I can drive around sometimes if I’m too tired to take public transport or if I just feel like driving around. But here’s where I’ve ended up. I’ve been living on a high so far, and being sick and stuck at home pulled me right down. I don’t know much about drugs, but the high can never last forever, can it? It’s always followed by a low. The higher the high, the more obvious the difference is. I’ve been sleeping less than 8 hours and partying all night on weekends and going out whenever I could. Don’t get me wrong, I can do all of this, I’m twenty-three. The consequences are rare. I would do this in Bombay sometimes. Well, I guess that’s about all I have to say. And here’s another piece of advice. Don’t sit at home all day for more than one day. It’s incredibly depressing. You may not understand why but you will see it happen. Get out at least for a few hours, take a walk or ride a bicycle or go jogging or sit on a bench somewhere or ride a bus or train to nowhere and back, do whatever does it for you. but if you’re nearing 48 hours, get out of your house or you risk depression.