Sunday, July 11, 2010

Kitchen Remedies

It’s been a rough few weeks health-wise. First off my appetite has been suspiciously absent ever since I left India. Initially I chalked it up to change in diet, climate, and time zones; then the emotions of leaving Seattle once again; then to adjusting back to India. Eventually I was forced to admit there must be something more going on and made the decision to terminate my anti-malarial medication. Now crossing my fingers that a later blog doesn’t detail the trials of malaria!

Happily eating again I, of course, contract a nasty stomach bug. It knocks me out for a few days but as I’m preparing to medicate, my body prevails at last. Then I wake up with a sore throat and realize I have caught Suma’s cold. As the cold takes over I’m feeling a bit hopeless, stuck in a village, still weak from the stomach bug, lacking the right medicine in my vast collection. Then I remember . . .

Digging through my shelves I open a bag from last year. Inside is a small Tupperware containing oma, an Asian spice known most commonly as “ajwain.” I toss a handful of these cumin-looking seeds into my mouth, tuck them in my cheek, and bite down on a few. As I swallow the sharp, bitter juice it brings almost instant relief to my sore throat and coughing. Then I head over to the dining hall and, with Urmila’s help, boil water and mix in black tea powder, a little sugar, and freshly crushed black pepper. This concoction doesn’t taste amazing and it stings a bit but in a good, slightly numbing kind of way. The best medicine, however, I save for last.

Zinda Tilismath is a self-proclaimed “Panacea for several ailments” including: “swine flu, cough cold & coryza, throat trouble, stomach troubles, dysentery, malaria, cholera, breathing trouble of children, headache, toothache, ear trouble, pains, and scorpion sting.” Talk about a miracle drug! (P.S. not sure why there's an African warrior on the box...)

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