I woke up yesterday with a fever and a nasty cough. Being schooled in the western medical tradition, my immediate response was to open my backpack, pull out my medical kit, and take pills.
This is day 2. To be honest with you, only paracetamol makes getting out of bed tolerable, let alone desirable. Going outside is okay too, but if I wear too many clothes (i.e., more than just my t-shirt and windproof jacket – remember that it is 5 or 6 degrees) I can not walk far without sitting down.
I managed to stagger to the supermarket yesterday. Let me just bitch about Russia a little more. Bear in mind I am not 100% compos mentis with this temperature.
There is a sign just inside the supermarket that says “dear customers, we have lots of valuable goods inside this store just sitting on the shelves. please leave your bags at the counter before entering this shop”.
Leaving aside the stupidity of this rule (why not just search bags on the way out?), every single Russian goes everywhere with a plastic bag in their hands. So every single person entering the store needs to leave their bag with the bag attendant. I have a bag. I need to give it to the cloak room woman.
But (here is the crux of the story), there are only 44 spots for bags in the storage area. I know this because the spots are numbered from 1 to 44. There are far more than 44 people trying to get in to the shop. If you have a bag, you can not come in until someone has left (so there is a spot to store your bag).
So there is an enormous (and slow moving) queue to get into the supermarket. Again, an innovation that is supposed to make your life easier (the supermarket) becomes an instrument of torture in the hands of the insane hooligans who control a very small part of your everyday life.
So I queue. As you do. There is nothing in my bag, but it is not worth arguing about it with the security people. My temperature makes standing an unpleasant activity. By the time I trade my bag for a number (36) I feel distinctly like I am about to collapse. I have to ask the security guard to use his seat for a minute. He asks me if I have come to buy vodka. I should have shaved this morning.
At least I return home with supplies. I figure I can last till Thursday with my purchase. I have lost all appetite, so I am not chewing through my food quickly. If I don’t recover by then, I guess the doctor will be the only sensible option. Last time I went, a consultation (15 minutes) cost around NZ$500. I wonder if the price has come down any.
The point of this post (and there is one) is to remark how remarkable it is that your physical condition can affect your mental condition so much. Just two days of sickness and I am already thinking how terrible travelling is, and how nice it would be to be back at home in New Zealand, drinking tea and eating ginger biscuits and looking forward to a long hot summer. And how nasty it is to be lying in a hostel bed in St Petersburg, entirely alone, feeling very bad.
I guess my point is that homesickness is a derived sickness. The 100% effective vaccine against homesickness is good times.