Saturday, July 10, 2010

chicken pox saga

I went to the doctor last month because there were some unusual blisters in my body. The doctor examined my mouth ,ears, back and forth and gave the verdict.

I was down with chicken pox. Well that was a bad timing, I had to rest in bed while my friends were busy working on group projects , workshops and assignments. I wanted to be recovered as fast as possible. But, well bad timing, I got chicken pox in the wrong era. Suddenly I found my family a group of very devoted followers of the God called Papola.

When I said that I wished to get the chicken pox shot, they were against me. Until that point to today I was tormented physically and psychologically by them.

Ah wait, behind them, there was another powerful figure.

That is called the CULTURE, the culture of myths.

While the culture of myths was slowly killing me, I was googling from the bed to find out an easy cure for the disease. There were many, but to my dismay, all were against “our way” of doing it.

I was fighting against this “our way” of my aunt, but it was not a success. She won. And as a result I spent a very unpleasant time in the bed.

Now its the time to take revenge. I will tell you the story.

At the end, decide whether you are going to kill the “culture of myths” for me or not.


My decision to take the Chicken pox shot was not entertained by the family. They said that the coming of blisters should not be disturbed in any way. They should be allowed to come & disappear naturally. Blisters come because your body is hot. More blisters mean that the hotness in your body is being evaporated. So, it is better to have more blisters.

Well, chicken pox is just another viral infection. Blisters are a side effect of the virus. The idea of the hot and cold is a common belief in the ayurveda. I have no idea, what it has in connection to the chicken pox.

According to the traditional beliefs, a person gets chicken pox, mumps and measles when is is subjected to the anger of the Gods. So they are called the diseases of the Gods. Taking medicine to cure the decease is similar to going against the Gods. So, the people would pray to the gods and make vows to go the temple and make offerings when the disease is cured.

Speaking of medicine, there is Acyclovir tablet and the vaccine for chicken pox. (Read the hand out issued by the government on treating chicken pox in IDP camps)

I wanted to get either one of them and my father and aunt were totally against it. When I asked why they had plenty of stories to tell me about the people who got big blisters due to the vaccines and girls who never cured their marks, got bad side effects due to the pills. It was interesting; they didn't knew a single success story of a person who minimized the effects by taking medicines.

In my case, all the stories I have heard were positive. In fact, my friends were telling me stories about people who got well within a week thanks to the pills / vaccine etc, but, it was sad that none of my relatives believed them

But they were helpless when it comes to the point of the tablets given to me by the doctor. What he gave me was Panadol, Piriton and another drug which looked like the old round shaped Panadol. I didn't know what it was. But I took the prescribed drugs despite of the strong opposition of the adults.

Food given during the period was second only to the kiri hodhi & rice I had to eat when I had my first menstruation. Turmeric powder for food was totally prohibited. Meat, fish, dry fish, eggs etc were taboo. Fried food too was prohibited. Only 'good food' for chicken pox, as the adults said, was cold food. The idea of the cold food would have probably come from the belief that the chicken pox is a hot disease.

Despite of the cold food I was given, I had a problem of pooping. I felt that my digestive system had dried up. So I asked for papaya. In fact, I felt an strong desire to eat something watery like that because it was very difficult for me to eat hard things as I had blisters in my mouth. In Sinhalese, papaya is "papol" ( පැපොල් )and the sinhala name for chiken pox is "papola" (පැපොල). So my aunt said that eating papol when I have papola was not good. So I was not permitted to eat papaya. Instead I was given ambul kesel, which was again considered to be a cold fruit.

Although eating turmeric powder was considered bad, they diluted some of it in water and sprinkled all over my room and the house. When I asked why, they said that it was to kill the germs. My next question was “Then why don't you eat it? It will kill the germs inside the body?” For that question, the simple answer was “Its the tradition not to use turmeric in food”. So ultimately, when I was able to poop it was grayish, something like ash colored clay. At the first time I saw it, I was afraid of the unusual color, but after few minutes, it occurred to me the reason.

As soon as the news of my sickness spread in the university, many friends called me and asked me to sleep on margosa leaves (කොහොඹ කොළ) and alu kesel leaves. One friend even had taken the trouble to meet my father and give him some margosa leaves. I was first pissed off at the idea. But I could not lie to my friend saying that I was sleeping on margosa leaves.

So I got the them washed, waited till the water evaporated and spread them on the bed. Believe me, it was super cool. Ah, I forget to tell you that I was sweating a lot. It was very difficult to stay in bed when I was sweating. I felt as if my back was in fire. But with the coming of margosa leaves between my body and the bed spread, I found it more comfortable. I felt as if they were sucking the bloody burning sensation from my body out. In simple words, sweating on margosa leaves were more comfortable than sweating on the bed spread.

That was one of the good things I found in the traditions.

This is the most dangerous and the horrible part of the story. In fact, this is what nearly killed me.

According to the traditional beliefs, it was necessary to abstain from bathing for 14 days of infection. Then, after the blisters had dried up, a seven day bath is compulsory. This seven day bath should be started on either a Saturday or a Wednesday which are called the "kemmura days" or the days of the Gods. As the tradition says, the bathing should happen before the sun rise. Before having a bath, it was necessary to apply a mixture of blended margosa leaves, turmeric and coconut all over the body; including hair in order to sterilize the body from chicken pox germs and to erase the scars.

Imagine my plight, I was to stay about an hour till that pack dries on my body and then have a bath before sunrise continuously on seven days!!

I strongly opposed the idea.

Meanwhile, I tried to get the back ground story to this from my aunt.

When she had got chicken pox, on the 14th day of infection (forgot to ask whether it was exactly a Wednesday or a Saturday :p ), she was taken to the near by river by my grand ma. Then, grand ma had prepared the mystery pack with margosa, coconut and turmeric and had applied it on aunt's body. Aunt had sit on a stone in the river till the pack dried off and then she was bathed. All this happened before the sunrise and mind you continuously for 7 days.

I do not know how she endured that, but aunt vehemently insisted on the fact that the scars go away only if you have a bath like that.

For her era, it was OK. They had no running water at homes those days. The only source of water was the river. If they get late to go the river people will be there and the patient as well as the care taker would have to answer the questions of the villagers. On the other hand, when it gets late, the water of the river gets polluted. For instance, the people in the upper side of the river may wash their clothes, clean their cooking pots etc and if the patient bathes such unclean water, it might result in another infection.

Since I felt good, said that I would have a bath on a Monday. But my aunt disagreed. She called this friend, that doctor etc and said it was not OK.

I had huge arguments with my aunt over the bathing time and finally agreed to have “the bath” on a Wednesday at about 10'o clock.

On Wednesday, day it was rainy and cold. Not even a healthy person would have a bath on such a day. I said that I cannot. But all my oppositions were in vain. She wanted to have the ceremonious bath on that cold rainy day. The rainy weather continued and so was the bath. I bathed continuously on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. After the bath, I was given cold things like kola kanda, saw kanda and thambili.

I insisted that I want to go back to the university on the next Monday. So I went to the doctor to get a medical certificate. By that Sunday, I had taken 16 days of leave. Doctor said that he couldn't give a medical for 16 days for chicken pox. As the law says, it should be just 14 days.

That was a huge contradiction. As the tradition, you should stay 14 days in the bed, then have the 7 day bath and go to work. In total that is 21 days. But the medical certificate says that all that bed resting and bathing should be finished by 14 days.

So, on Monday I went to university. I was asked to have a bath in the morning before going into the university. I agreed to that. Then, as I was trying to eat some rise and curry, my aunt came up with a kola kada (a drink made up of green leaves). I had to drink it because, well, because she was such an annoyance. So I drank the kola kanda as my breakfast and got into the bus. As I was getting off the bus, it was raining. My shoes were soaking wet when I finally made my appearance in the faculty. I finished lectures at 4.30 pm that day and came home around 5.30 pm. It was still raining and my tooth with a broken filling was hurting like hell.

What I wanted as soon I saw my bed was to have a sound sleep. It was cold and using hot water to have a wash was prohibited a long time. In consequence, I had go for a cold water wash.

By 8.00 am next day, I was shivering with fever. i was rushed into the medical center of the university from where I got to know the reason for my fever.

The doctor at the health center was suspecting that my fever was a symptom of pneumonia for several reasons. I was having continuous baths in the rain, I got caught in the rain..soo many rain and water related things.

That is where the tradition becomes the killer:(

I was suffering from fever for another week and that was a great loss when it comes to academic stuff.

I have one request to make from all of you. never resort to traditions if they seem irrational !!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Why just colour, we need the size too!!

Im keeping myself out from the Facebook fun these days. The only reason for that is my increasing love for twitter as a social network. Its simple, fun and useful in many ways than facebook. For example, if i have a problem in ubuntu, twitter status update is the best way to get the problem solved. If you want to check out a film before you actually watch it, a simple twitter search would allow you to know how the people all over the world from diffrent walks of life think about it.

Well, the preference for a social network depends on who you are, what you want and how many kilobytes of personal information you want to be leaked into the cyber space(and not to mention, the type of internet connection you have:P). I wrote a whole blog post on this issue and unfortunately, the recent ubuntu Vs XP issue in the home computer vandalised all the words, commas, fullstops and pictures beyond recovery :(

Fortunately, @ranmalee tweeted this post from Techcrunch about "twitter and how it is better than any other social networking services". So as a replacement post, read this and contemplate. After all, most of the ideas presented are similar to mine:)

eh, that is past and these days I see most of the women updating colors as their status updates!! I was wondering what the hell has happened to facebook or my lady friends there. In about 5 simple hours, my sms inbox was full of more than ten colour messages. In another few hours, mashable unveils behind the scene story as usual.

WTF, it is considered to make the whole world aware of the so called breast cancer. yeah, true it is a deadly disease, let alone just breast cancer, the whole disease called cancer is a freaky ghost. But how does the knowledge of one's bra color help to bring breast cancer awareness? In my idea, this colorful status trend of faceBook is nothing but a way to let the whole world know how many you-know-whats a particular woman has, the colour she prefers and according to some web sites, the colour describes how she feels. (link via @Binku)

Or else, the brain of this stupid godaya girl has no enough power to process the colourful information and decipher out the hidden breast cancer awareness message in facebook updates.

After all, this is another crazy trend started by guys/girls from a world where the people have thosand and one chances to see not only the bra colours but also bikini colors, boxer colors and thong colors. They won't mind somebody posting her bra colour as the status message. Well that is their culture.

halooo, welcome to Sri Lanka. Girls are supoosed to hide their bra using all types of under clothing available. When a bra is washed, grand moms want us to hang it in a place where the male family memebers would not see. If the bra strap is visible to the outside, even the girls with a modern mind set would feel embarassed and what if a guy or a girl in the bus stares at such a visible bra strap (which often happens in Sri Lankan busses) ? ahah, there you got it. No need to explain the feeling right?

So, how come all such girls publicly shouting out the colour of their under garment? oh, people forgeot to mention another thing, although now a widely known secret, it was first thought to be a "girl only secret" in Facebook. Here is one of the emails I received.

Its just a little fun for us girls only..Each of you write on your status what
colour your bra is..Nothing else, just the colour.... Then send this by private
message ONLY, 2 all the females on ur friends list.. Lets see how quickly we can
spread the wings of cancer awareness, and see how confused all the men get when
they see just a colour as our status...Take care

However, as one unfaithful woman of the pack has unveiled the secret to web, "the guys" got to know the secret in no time.

Now imagine a guy seeing "red" as the status of the most innocent girl in his faceBook friend list. I bet 10000000000000000000 dollers that his mind's eye pictures the girl in a red bra in no time. the image may erase itself in seconds or sometimes, it may be carved in the brain for days ; who knows, according to our Psychology lessons, typical male mind runs wild even after a simple stimuli. Of course, a stimuli may differ from person to person. For some, it would be just fun; fun to know something that a typical Sri Lankan girl would usually tag as too personal and keep as a secret. just imagine,

In facebook::
a guy writes "what is the colour of the bra you are wearing now?" in a random girl's wall.
The girl replies "WTF???$%^$%$$###@#@#@#$#@#@^(" and she would be no more in that particular guy's friend list

In real life::
A guy walks to a girl he knows and asks "what is the colour of the bra you are wearing now"
what would be the reply?? up to you to imagine !!

probably not positive right? and if in any case she replied with a color, she would be labled the "slut", or the "pros"

And now, thanks to this stupid breast cancer awareness programm, you are being the laughing stock of guys.

Im sure this color scenario would be one of the hot secret topics among guys (girls) tomorow, at work, school or uni.

"you know, she loves black it seems, she wore 4 blacks and 2 pinks over the week. so if you are planning to give her a gift, remember to buy a black one"

"yakoo imagine X in a dark yellow. yuck I would throw out right in her face!!"

"ooooi, all the other girls in the batch had colorful ones but X has only one color. Poor kella machan"

"it was fun to see how many bras a girl would change during a day"

"Munta lajja nadda manda mewa eli pita kiyanna (aren't they ashamed to say things like this in public)"

"You should have been on FaceBook man, weekend was damn funny, it was like how many bras, colors you have game among girls. This is the high time you create a FB account. who knows what would be the next :O"

Imagine how a boy friend would feel when his friends crack jokes on the color of his girl's bra.

How bad an ego of a Sri Lankan husband be hurt when he gets to know the color of wife's bra over FaceBook?

Finally, the breast cancer awareness turn out to be a joke. Frankly, how many of you guys or girls were tempted to raise awareness of breast cancers as a result of the color wave in facebook? Let alone raise awareness, did you atlest (happen to) read one article on how to prevent breast cancers or on the major causes of breast cancer ? In my case no. I was just educating myself about the colors of "those" and also learned that a bra involves some Newtonian physics. (link via @chanux )

I have no idea of the western world. However, for the average Sri Lankan, this would sure have been a big surprise bra color party.

so, girls, one humble request, think twice before a Fb status update again

One word again, all the above are my ideas in my world, if you think otherwise, you are free to leave a sarcastic comment or a laugh on me and my stupid brain

PS1: I know this is rediculous. but this is my crazy expalanation for the color wave in FB status:P
After seeing so many colorful bikinis during the summer, a group of guys have a thirst to know the bra color of their lady friends during the winter; may be to do a research on the underwear color preferences of women over season, who knows, these days people do weird researches:D

One comes with this magical idea of creating a female FaceBook profile and sending a secret message to all the women in the area asking them to update the color.

And Wow, the research questionnaire is filled by millions in minutes. nice!!

And what if they wanted to do a research on the breast size too? nicer no???

PS2. just got to know from a guy that the newest trend of the FaceBook girls is to update their hair style as the status. That is better than the bra idea anyway