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Seven Needles

And more to come.

Three weeks away from departure (I delayed it a bit so that I could finish a series of immunizations), I spent around an hour and a half with a nurse practitioner today, discussing health issues I am going to face in Asia.

Between the villages and the volunteer possibilities, potential camping on islands and lingering up in the mosquito-dangerous Thai mountains, I’m in the high risk category. Which I knew. Although prepared and anticipating some intensity, I did not quite expect to receive six shots today.

Tetanus booster, polio, meningitis, typhoid, rabies, and Japanese encephalitis.

The first three were a surprise: somehow DePaul did not require meningitis vaccination, and the other two were standard adult updates. The rabies and Japanese encephalitis vaccines are each a three-part series, so I will be back for more over the next two weeks.

Because six needles weren’t enough, I had my nose pierced again this afternoon — a small, gold stud, which will seem like a typical fashion statement in the cities and an important cultural sign in rural communities. I am not pretending I am Indian, but I am attempting to respectfully adopt visual signifiers that will make me more comprehensible outside of urban areas. Will be wearing a fake wedding ring and, along with Ayurvedic associations, nose piercings are associated with marriage. Focused on a poster of the Buddha in the piercing artist’s workroom while my eyes watered from the shock of another jab. This is really happening.

Feeling a combination of side effects (classic stiff arm as well), kind of a pathetic start, eh?


Currently in California. Leave for Delhi, India in a few weeks after traveling a bit more in America.

Lining up my visas, carefully choosing what I am going to pack, and researching culture and etiquette. Did you know that you should cover your head in a Sikh gurudwara in India but take off your hat in a Buddhist temple in Thailand? Or that it is considered immodest to swim in a bathing suit (off a tourist beach) in Thailand, that the locals go in fully clothed?

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