Saturday 24th November 2007

Well the purpose of this email is for us all to have a good laugh at my misfortune, hence the title (that’s what a 17,000 pound education will do for you, with posh long German words and everything!)

I was at the post office collecting a huge parcel of stationary supplies from my lovely friends in Korea (big huge thank you to Penny, Elin, Suzie, and anyone else who contributed to that – it’s fantastic).
On my way out from the counter to go and get my customs form signed, I tripped over a huge pile of rusting metal that was apparently being stored in the middle of the floor. I stubbed my toe really badly, and you know that intense pain you get when you stub your toe, when all you want to do is swear as loudly as you possibly can? Well, I was leaning against the wall, gripping my toe and managed to avoid screaming abuse. Priya wanted to have a look, and when I eventually ungripped my toe I realised that there was already blood soaking through my sock onto my hand.

I took off the sock and saw that there was something sticking out at a very odd angle. I thought it might be a chunk of rusty metal (lovely) but soon realised it was only a hunk of my toenail that had been ripped off.

We managed to get through the rest of the red tape suprisingly fast (Priya told them all off in Nepali while I sat looking injured and pointedly glared at the offending rusty heap).
We got a cab home, where I planned to clean up my toe and cut off the nail with scissors.
However, when I cleaned it up, I realised there was a good sized chunk of my toe still attached to the nail, sticking out vertically.

I wasn’t about to start cutting off chunks of my own toe with scissors, so armed with Jake (13) and Raj (15) we set off to the pharmacy (where they do a lot of minor doctoring).
We waited for ages but the doctor didn’t show up, so we tried another pharmacy.
I showed the guy my toe, and he went over to a shelf, got a pair of scissors, and said hopefully “You want me to cut it off?”.

No No, No, No, NO!

He said I’d have to go to the hospital anyway for a tetanus jab so I figured I’d be better off having it sorted out there anyway.
We got to the Teaching Hospital, and ended up in the emergency room. There were a LOT of VERY ill people there, mostly two or three to a bed, with limbs hanging at horrible angles, blood on the floor and it was generally a bit of a shock.
I also felt very VERY ashamed, standing in the middle of it all with a sore toe!

However, the doctor was terribly efficient and saw me straight away (again, something I felt very bad about), and he had a look, scribbled something down, and Priya dashed off. She came back saying it was 500 rupees, which I gave her, and then she came back with a plastic bag. I looked inside and there were two sterile needles (large), one packet of sterile suture thread, one vial of tetanus, and one sterile surgical blade (it looked like a small loose razor blade).

There wasn’t anywhere to sit, and I was happy to stand, having seen the poor people lying around me, but the doctor couldn’t get at my toe, so he shooed a poor woman off a bed (she had awful burns all over her whole arm) so I could sit down for him to look at. I ended up scooting over though, as a man came in with a drip and a heavily bandaged hand that was hanging at such a clearly broken angle, I think his wrist must have just snapped. I made room for him and sat on the end of the bed while his mates hung up his drip (they’re all in glass bottles – I’m surprised they don’t have broken glass everywhere).

The doctor cleaned up my toe, and then got out one of the giant needles – I’m not at all bothered about needles, but this one was way bigger than your average sewing needle. He got some stuff and said he was going to anaesthatise the area a bit, but instead decided to jab the needle directly into the injured part and started wiggling it around! It hurt like HELL and I did shout “OUCH!” at one point, which got me a number of pointed looks from the severely injured and made me feel very ashamed!

Then he got out his razor blade and cut off the offending piece of my toe (it was really quite small) and didn’t hurt a bit – I’m pretty sure the “anaesthatising” hurt more than if he’d just done it without!
I know it was a teaching hospital, but ALL of the doctors looked under 25 – I couldn’t see any of the actual teachers! It was all a bit worrying, but luckily there’s also a nice clean expensive clinic for foreigners, so if I ever get really ill I’m definitely going there instead!
Then I got a larger-than-necessary bandage, although it did make me feel less ashamed of being there, with a giant bandage on my toe!

We hobbled off and I went off to meet my mates (what with it being Friday).
The numbing stuff worked fine, and it didn’t hurt all night (the vodka may have helped there too) although it’s sore today, (could have been all the dancing) and I’ve got to go home and change the dressing – I’m feeling a bit hungover, so may milk the sore toe as an excuse to curl up in front of a movie back at the orphanage!

Last night was really fun too – we found a new bar that’s just a big outdoor garden, with big bonfires scattered around for heat and a really good live reggae band – it was really awesome.

So, that’s the hilarious story of how a trip to the post office cost me a chunk of my big toe!
On another happier note, I weighed myself at the pharmacy (while waiting for the doctor to come) and have now lost about 9 kilos (not counting the loss of toe!) – about a stone and half, since I got here.
I’m loving the dhall bhaat too – even though we eat it twice a day, every day, I seriously can’t get enough of it!
I’m still veggie, and that’s going fairly well – it’s easy being here, and have signed up for the meditation course starting on the 14th January.

On a less hilarious note, Raj, the 15 year-old terrified me yesterday. He’s new – he’s only been staying with us for about 3 weeks, and is insanely skinny. I’ve watched him eat, and although all boys that age eat like there’s no tomorrow, Yamraj eats with such intense concentration – it’s hard to explain, and I don’t know much about his past, but I’m positive that he’s known real hunger before. It’s not just malnutrition, it’s an intensity with which he eats that’s hard to describe.

I’ve noticing him subtly trying to nick food from the kitchen before, and while I’d have no problem telling off any of the other kids for doing that, I haven’t had the heart to tell him not to yet.
Anyway, when we were at the pharmacy weighing ourselves, he really scared me. He hopped on the scale, and he’s quite tall for a Nepali boy, maybe about 5 foot or 5.1, but he only weighed 35 kilos!
To put that in perspective, he’s a fifteen year old boy, and Nicole Ritchie was fatter than him at her most anorexic. That’s roughly 5 and a half stone, or about 75-80 pounds, for those of you with different measurements, but it’s fucking scary.

I wondered if he has worms, but I think I’ll have to give it a bit longer and see if he starts to put on weight – after all he’s only been here three weeks.

It does make me very glad and thankful that I’ve never known what it’s like to be truly hungry, because I don’t think it’s something he’s ever going to be able to forget.

So, off to nurse my hangover and sore toe, feel free to laugh at my unfortunate accident. (and by the way, no need to be genuinely concerned – it really was a very small piece of skin/nail that got removed – nothing at all serious, I just like to exaggerate lots!)

tons of love

ps – I have also now set up the fundraising website to help out the kids at the other orphanage. I’ll update you all on the situation in my next email, it’s still trundling along a bit slowly.
The website page for donating is:

(same as it was before actually), and I’ve also created a group on facebook called “Maya’s Sponsored Silence” – please invite your friends to join too).

Anyone wondering what I’d like for Christmas, please donate something for the kids instead – It really will make a difference, and I can personally guarantee the money will be placed directly in the right people’s hands and will be spent on the kids and no-one else. If we raise enough, we may even be able to pay for them to go to school next year.


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