This morning Billie came down with the same sickness that Dacey had the previous day. Unfortunately, it was the day we were supposed to be leaving to visit the capital city of Chandigarh, a 3-hour bus journey from Jalandhar. Billie was really pale and not looking well at all, so I stayed back this time to look after her while Steve took the healthy lot – Charlie, Ash and Dacey to Chandigarh for a 2-night visit. Chandigarh is said to be the only and first planned city of India – yes it’s ordered and organised!
First step was to leave our luxurious hotel room for a new hotel that costs half as much. Steve had found one online at Agoda called Hotel 24/7 Inn in the heart of Model Town near the market area and where we had our haircuts and coloured the other day. It seemed to have everything we needed – decent beds at a decent price, free wifi, and a central location to walk around and grab what we needed. Garry helped Steve hail two rickshaws, and they were off to the bus stop in Jalandhar to board a bus headed for Chandigarh. Billie and I were sitting in Garry’s small white car, with all the luggage piled up around us with Billie getting paler by the second. Poor girl had vomited in the Imperia Hotel lobby toilet, and I was sure the car ride would not be kind to her.
We drove directly to Garry’s parent’s place, and Bill went straight up to Money’s bedroom to lie down and rest. Unfortunately, Garry was using the toilet upstairs, and Billie vomited on the concrete floor upstairs. It was clear that she needed to be in a hotel room close to a toilet! Garry was great about it, helped clean up while I grabbed tissue paper for Billie and then tucked her into Money’s bed.
I walked downstairs to where mummyji ( a respectful name for the mother of the house) was and Aarti and they made me a chai tea. Mummyji wanted me to eat, but I just wasn’t needing food. I needed to book accommodation and get there as soon as possible. I walked back up the external stairs to check on Bill who had her ear phones in listening to music. I don’t think she went to sleep – it was cool upstairs and she wasn’t settled in the bed.
Garry’s family are so nice. After Garry told me to download an app called OYO, I booked the accommodation via the app at Hotel 24/7 Inn. It was done – Bill and I would stay in the heart of Model Town tonight and tomorrow night and hopefully it was the same 24-hour stomach bug that Dacey had.
It was cute watching mummyji fuss over her eldest son Garry, making him drink hot milk (even though he protested that he didn’t like hot milk), and then colouring his hair black. He drank the hot milk. I sat outside in the soft sun with mummyji as she shredded fresh green spinach leaves with a knife the old fashioned way – no chopping board, just using her hands to cut the leaves. It reminded me of watching my Nanny cut apples without a chopping board. Aarti came outside and helped peel cucumbers and red carrots. Then we ate the pieces of carrot and cucumber with a sprinkle of salt over them together on the outside day bed.
When mummyji left to do something in the kitchen inside, I asked Aarti if she missed her family home. And she told me she missed them a lot. The vibe at the two family homes is quite different – Aarti’s extended family who live together – all 15 of them – with grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and siblings is a buzz with people and activity, whereas Garry’s home is a lot quieter – it’s just the 3 of them and an extra 2 people when Garry and Aarti return to the Punjab from Australia. She misses her mum, who didn’t attend Haveali night out with the whole family. I asked why and Garry said she gets tired at night, she’s getting old – I think she’s 55! I asked her again what would happen if they were to only have girls, like me – what would happen? And she dismisses it because there is no answer. You’re alone or you’re forced to live with a distant relative or something. I hope the culture changes for parents who only have XX chromosome babies like me.
It was time to leave. Garry was taking us to the new hotel in Model Town. I got Billie organised with a couple of napkins and a plastic bag and let her sit in the front seat. We arrived, and she asked to use the toilet at the new hotel lobby. While I was at the counter negotiating with Garry on our stay there, Billie had obliterated the toilet. I could smell the stench of the bug escape out from the toilet door and meander out into the lobby area. Billie called out quietly, “Mum I need new pants and nickers.” So I turned to Garry and said we need Billie’s yellow bag from the car. I handed her the plastic bag for the soiled clothes and passed her new ones. She finally came out looking as white as a ghost and sat outside breathing meditatively while we got everything out from the car and checked the room to make sure it was okay for us to stay in.
We got Billie up from the landing area outside, Garry left and she took a shower. Yay instant hot water! Billie was in for quite some time, and emerged with a white towel wrapped around her body, dripping wet hair and looking whiter still and fanning her hand to her face. She was quite light headed. She was struggling to stay upright. I got her to lean on the wall, and then she walked over towards the bed and collapsed onto the floor, hitting her head on the wall. I was there to cushion the blow but it happened so quickly. I wrapped a towel around her wet hair, told her stay seated on the ground, and then grabbed a pair of pants and a loose fitting t-shirt. She managed to change into these new clothes somehow and crawl into bed. She stayed there for three hours in a deep sleep. She woke with more colour and a smile on her face.
While Billie slept I rearranged the backpacks and moved all the summer clothes into a separate backpack, so that the girls’ carry-on bags were lighter. We will not have any use for these items while we’re in Delhi or Buldana as it’s cooler in Delhi at the moment and Buldana is a very conservative society (so no shorts or singlet tops in Buldana Ash!). I also hooked up my broken screen Mac to the extra screen, as there is a small desk in the room (yay) and started writing and catching up on my daily journal. It was freezing cold too and there was an a/c but no heater. So I wandered down to reception and asked for a heater. They came up pronto with a free standing heater in the room J I also went for a wander to download some extra English movies on USB. We had success with his computer being able to read the Lexar USBs, so I purchased 3 movies for 80 rupee ($1.70) each – Mask, Frozen and The Martian. I was so excited that Billie and I could have a movie night together. But they didn’t work. Wrong extension. And the young Punjabi man had closed the shop at 9:30pm for the night. I tried downloading some free software to change the filename, but the wifi is too weak to download. In the end we started watching Birdman together, but Billie was too tired and fell asleep. Quite a different movie too.
So glad Billie is feeling better. She is on the mend. We have heard from the Chandigarh gang via Messnger app and they are having a great time exploring the city – they have planned to go on a hop on hop off bus, visit a garden made from recycled materials, attended the movies and saw Passenger, and went paddling on a river.