Saturday, May 17, 2014

Malarone Dreams and Sidewalk Sleeping

From the first day that I started taking the Malarone (pills to prevent Malaria) I've had the most vivid, strange nightmares each night. I wake throughout the night with a start. The nightmares are always about people that I care about, and I get several throughout the night. Even when I take a small nap I get a bad or very vivid and bizarre dream. It's strange to wake from a nightmare and then realize you are also not in your own bed, bedroom, or even your own country. I just googled "malarone nightmares" and apparently it is indeed a side effect of the medication. Had I known this, I would have brought some sort of stuffed animal to cuddle with at night. ;-)

Last night as we walked back to the apartments from the coffee shop, it was around 9pm. I noticed that many people - men, women and children - were readying their beds on the sidewalk to prepare for a night's sleep. Some of them have crude wooden boards on risers upon which to lay their bodies, with a small pillow and their belongings stuffed underneath. Some just have a thin mat to lay on the sidewalk. This morning when I woke at 5am from one of the nightmares, I went to the living room where I could access wifi and text my friend who I'd dreamed about. Once I heard back from her that she was okay, I went to the roof and was surprised to find that the sun was rising - and with it, the sidewalk sleepers. I leaned on the balcony rail from 5 stories high and watched as they slowly rolled their mats. Some of them went to the street corner and used a water pump to wash their faces, arms, and legs and feet.

I didn't expand upon the sights during our ride through Kolkata at 2am on the night that we arrived here. It was a 30-45 minute drive through all parts of the city to get to our apartment. Although we were jammed into the van and jetlagged beyond belief, I was sitting near the window and the view was a lot to take in. We passed many small huts made of tin or aluminum siding, and once we reached the actual city streets, there were so many people sleeping on the sidewalks. We passed a building that said "Nursing Home" in English, and outside there were about 30 older adults, laying on thin mats and sleeping on their backs. As we drove through the streets I saw so many people sleeping on the sidewalks. It struck me so hard.

When I lived in Boston I saw homeless people, especially since I worked in Harvard Square and many of them congregated there (potentially because there are more tourists there who are willing to part with change). In Philadelphia my original field placement was with a shelter for homeless women. But here, there are so many that it is overwhelming. They crowd the sidewalks in certain places. I literally stepped over an entire family last night as we rounded a corner on the way back to our apartment. I don't want to assume that all of the sidewalk sleepers are homeless - perhaps some of them are just keeping watch over their sidewalk shops. But either way, it's a jarring sight.

What does it feel like to step over a family of homeless Indians while wearing $25 Reef flip flops? It feels wrong, disjointed...weird. I'll elaborate on this more when I can process it a bit more.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

It sounds surreal. It's startling that that is every day life for so many, and the possibility hadn't even entered my mind. I hope the malarone dreams aren't a permanent side effect. -Marjukka

Toni Lupro said...

I've heard about the dreams as a side effect -- it seems so intense. I was bad, and stupid, and skipped taking medications for Haiti because of some issues with an appointment. I'm glad I didn't have the dreams, but I'm sure it's a much better alternative than potential illness. I'm sure the sights are a lot to digest!

JustJude said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JustJude said...

By the sounds of how much sleep you are getting, you won't be getting too many bad dreams, haha. Maybe they go away once you adjust to taking the medication. Definitely better than malaria! Great photos and stories. What kind of tree is that (the one with the petals)?

Kristen said...

There are no tree pictures in this post! What tree are you talking about? Haha

weebarrett said...

I had very strange dreams when I was on malaria pills--they were so vivid I really thought that they had happened! Hopefully you start to sleep through them, rather than waking up with them! You've really taken the plunge into a very different world--after I traveled to Africa and saw how proud this village was to share their garbage pit (because they made money by letting tourists in to see it), it was hard to be a tourist without feeling so guilty. Looking forward to more of your stories! - Ace

JustJude said...

I guess I thought I was posting my comment on the other post. I was going back and forth reading them. Oops!