Saturday, January 15, 2005

Gimme Fever

Yesterday we went to Kalkelav, one of Veerni's most successful village case. Not wanting to be rude, had one tiny bite of a sweet offered by one girl during the geography lesson--this rolled sesame and honey ball. Boy would I regret that later, vomiting in a royal guest room following a semi-formal dinner with Jodhpur's crowned Prince and his close associates at the majestic fort palace overlooking the old city.

How the heck did I get there? Govind, the charming young Indian who's befriended Jess and I, goes to watch Polo matches, which is apparently where all the elite of Rajastan hang out. We westerners in turn got invites (Jessica, Sarah, and I). I was feeling queasy already, but didn't want to be rude, so jumped in the posh SUV with the Prince's uniformed driver (can't express how wonderful it felt to zoom up the mountain to the fort in a smooth, enclosed ride, shielded from the pollution and mentalness outside the car). We were given a private tour of the fort palace. The royal family lived there in spacious gilt-incrusted rooms high above the city until the 20s, when they oversaw the building of Jodhpur's majestic Palace, which is like many Rajasthan palaces now also a luxury hotel.

We adjourned to a terrace with brightly striped padded chairs in a circle under the bright stars. Turbaned servants bobbed in and out offering drinks--it seems the Prince and his associates indulge in alcohol and whatever else they like, really, unlike most Hindis--and various fried appitizers. I avoided all of the above, sticking with seltzer, as I felt increasingly queasy, especially after chatting with a British ex-pat who looked like Woody Allen but spoke like a self-satified colonist. He left JP Morgan to invest in mining in India, where child labor has made him an even richer man. When I started to black out I ran downstairs, finding a bathroom in a guest room with gigantic windows overlooking old Jodhpur. The Prince came in to offer me his orange juice as I sat on the marble floor trying to make the room stop spinning. He is as handsome as I'd heard, dressed in slim black slacks and what looked like Gucci loafers, speaking with an impossibly posh Eton-0xford acquired accent.

I felt a bit better so came to sit outside on yet another massive terrace at a long table with his pals--the owner of Delhi's Imperial Hotel, two British actresses, his fat well-bankrolled cousin, the owner of London's China White club--which is modeled after an Arabian hookah lounge--and a few other people I didn't meet.

Shivering under Jessica's declasse oversized Roots sweatshirt, I realized I should have left the party. Then a few minutes later my stomach reinforced this by sending me straight back to the guest bathroom.

I limped out of the party trying to hide under my hood. A not very fun night followed (fever, sickness, sniveling, oh my) but my house mother Neeta took me to their family doctor today, who prescribed a cocktail of 15 pills and syrups (the total was Rs. 558, which is less than over the counter cold pills would cost in the states). Neeta and Pushapender (what a name!) have put me in a ground floor room where they can check on me every now and then. Thank goodness we're staying here and not in Baiji's scary castle attic apartment is all I can think.


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