Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Joining the Hoi Polloi

I'm still feeling bad. After last night's marathon bout of cramps and diarrhea abated only a dozen anti-diarrheal pills, I decided it must be more than a simple flu and allowed myself to be dragged to the doctor today.

In preperation, I showered and changed the clothes I'd been wearing for the past week (literally). A few days back when my family complained about the length of time I had worn the same suit, I told them I hadn't changed my clothes because I was sick. Miss Smarty Pants Abez said I was sick because I hadn't changed my clothes and that I had "clothes poisoning". I told her sick people are supposed to look wrinkled and have an odor that preceeds them by three feet, like ancient lepers being legally required to call out "leper, leper" whenever they were in a public place.

This morning, our housekeeper commented to Owl, "That pant suit you mother is wearing sure looks nice on her." We all knew I was being dissed by a woman whose clothes smell smokey from the wood fires she cooks her food over, and acrid from several day old sweat. When our washing machine died a permanate death last month, the acceptable wearing of a suit changed slowly from a daily change, to every other day, to every 4th day (not for the rest of us, they say). Hey, you try washing all your clothes by hand and see if you give a damn about what you look like.

I had been wearing the same suit since Tuesday evening, spot washing away food stains on the suit, trying to stay decent by showering and changing my underclothes. But on Sunday when I started getting sick, all attempts at social pretense fell apart and I joined the ranks of the Hoi Polloi whole heartedly. I lived in that suit 24 hours a day for the last three days.

Hey, it was comfy. The elastic waist made my every hour on the hour, night and day washroom visits easier. The shirt could be worn open with a turtleneck underneath or closed when I alternated from fever to chills to fever. I could answer the door to let in the housekeeper, the gardner and accept the bottled water delivery early in the morning while looking presentable. It was the perfect combination of style, convenience and comfort. It was my new Woobie.

Woobie is American baby slang for a comfortable item they don't ever want to be seperated from - a blanket, a sleeper suit, a sweater etc. Adults carry on the idea of Woobie with comfort clothing they wear to death, and continue to wear till family intervention insues. Well, today I was faced by the family, forced to shower and taken to the doctor. (Fortunately to a GP, not a psychiatrist)

I told the doctor I had the flu. He asked if I had eaten at any restaurnat and I told him no. He proceeded to diagnose my case as food poisioning anyway. Then I said, "Well, the day before I started getting sick, we did have cold salads from Pizza Hut."

"Aha," he replied, "I get about two food poisioning cases a month from Pizza Hut salads. I'm going to have to write them a letter and tell them to clean up their act. The pizza is fine, but those mayonnaise-based salads aren't being properly handled. You know, we can't do anything about the rest of the country, but they are a multi-national company. In the States, they would be sued for this kind of repeated violation."

I told him I didn't think it was the salads, because no one else in the family got sick but me. When I returned, I found out that I was the only one in the family who ate any of the salads, and now Crayon, who ate some was sick today too. I had even eaten some for dinner last night, that might explain why I spent the night in pain, agony and the washroom.

After we left the clinic, hubby and I stopped for my sick person supplies. Bananas, yogurt, 7-up (Oh why can't it be Pepsi instead?) oral rehydration salts, antibiotics and yeast packets.

Even though I was ill, I checked the mail box when we got home and was very pleasantly surprised to find two more Christmas cards. One from fellow blogger Kelsye in Japan, a cute little snowman-ice cream cone who says, "Happy Christmas, Don't eat me!!!" And a Pakistani card from my brother-in-law in Karachi, "wisinhg" me a Merry Christmas.

I had told Kelsye about the wacky cards here with improper clip art, spelling errors and weird verses and we had decided to swap. In Pakistan it's almost impossible to find a card without one of those offenses. For her, I found a card that says, "May christmas joys beckon you with surprises in their lap." I imaginge Mae West setting on Santa's lap and purring seductively, "Is that your Christmas joys or are you just glad to see me?" But, true to form, the card is still here. I neglected to move the email with her mailing address from my junk box before the computer automatically deleted it.

Now blogger KNICQ is flying through Isloo tomorrow so we are going to meet him. How long of a meeting that will be, I don't know. I hope we have time enough to bring him home for a proper lunch. I don't think my stomach could handle any food from the rundown and overpriced airport restaurant. I'm all exicted for another blogger meet and greet. KNICQ has quickly become a beloved blogger and we are anxious to put a face to the name and zainy writing. Hopefully, I'll feel better tomorrow when I have some more antibiotics in me. For now, I look good, but the lingering smell of soap, shampoo and deoderant is kind of naueseating. It's not easy to disassociate oneself from the Hoi Polloi.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Fusion Confusion Strikes Again

Well, it's two days past Christmas. I know a Christmas blog is little late, but I needed the time to recoop from a flu-ish feeling past two days.

Christmas day here in Pakistan was a lovely 78 degrees and sunny. The playing field behind our house hosted a series of soccer matches. I knew something special was up when I awoke and looked out my bedroom window, I saw folding chairs, shiny new goals with nets and the playing field marked out with chalk. The team that plays there almost daily now had matching uniforms and three other teams to challenge. That went on all day. Hubby and I sat on the lawn, soaking up some sun and watching the action.

We were hosting Hemi and Demi-Hemi (her little sister) from Lahore. They had arrived late at night so I knew there would be no activity in the house till about noon. At that point, Crayon came over with enough Pizza Hut pizza and fixings to feed an army. We lunched, laughed and then decorated cookies.

Although I stopped buying Christmas gifts since I got to Pakistan, there was a growing number of gift boxes under the tree. I have always kept family gift giving to a minimum and tried to put the lion's share of my holiday budget into charity giving, but here in Pakistan, I had eliminated holiday gifts altogether.

I don't speak Urdu, I don't shop alone and what's the use of buying another piece of fabric at inflated prices? I really hate shopping here. It's like shopping at a dollar store (all low quality junk) at downtown prices. "Special price just for you, Baji." "This is imported all the way from TAIWAN!" It's all just Dollar Store rejects and needless markup prices.

Needless to say, when the I opened the girl's gifts, I felt sad that I hadn't bought them anything. Why can other people find lovely gifts here were I can't? I guess I'm just clueless at buying gifts.

That evening Chai joined the group. Crayon brought the restaurant rotisseriechicken. Owl made sweet potatoe casserole, oven roasted potatoes and German chocolate cake. Abez made wonderful creamed spinach. I really didn't do any work. After a delicious dinner we opened the gifts.

Here's were the fusion confusion really comes in. Wrapped and placed lovingly under the tree from Abez and Owl, was a Bible for a Hemi and a Koran for Crayon. (They had both expressed interest in these books.) I got a lovely garnet necklace from Owl, and a chanelle shawl from Abez, and chocolates. Choti, Crayon's daughter, drew each person a wonderful picture. She is such a loving child. They were so sweet.

After dessert, cookies, cakes, chocolates, nuts, and more of the same... we played scrabble and finished decorating cookies. I had a gingerbread house for Crayon and Hemi/Demi to decorate. It was their first time ever at such an activity. Chai won the scrabble game hands down.

All in all, it was a wonderful Christmas thanks to my loving family and wonderful friends. Thanks to my hubby for allowing me to corrupt his Islamic house with my very un-Islamic decorations and music for a month. To my lovely daughters for all their work to make my holiday special. To Crayon for bringing the magic of children at Christmas to my too-adult house. For Hemi and Demi Hemi for braving the Lahore fog and a long bus ride to join us. To Chai for spending her precious study-break time with us. That girl's free time is more valuable than diamonds.