Monday, 20 December 2010
Poya Day, Lunch and Mosquitoes
In practical terms, getting lunch will be tricky because all the little food places in town will be closed. I hesitate to call them cafés or restaurants because they're not that up-market. In fact you wouldn't want to be seen dead in most of them if they were in the West. I'd like to say that appearances are deceptive; that the hygiene standards are way better than they look, but, if I said that, I'd be lying. I've been lucky: even in these tired, dingy and somewhat dirty places, and with water from the taps and out of hand-washed (no detergent) glasses, I've managed to survive without any stomach problems. So far. Touch wood. So perhaps the standards really are better than they appear or I have a particularly good constitution. Either way, today I'll get my 'rice packet' from the only place serving them - a place that I only ever go into at a pinch because it's more scruffy, dingy and dirty-looking than the usual places, and is unquestionably populated by more than its fair share of flies. Nice, it is not!
I've used those electric plug-in devices which, like the spray, permeate the air with chemicals, but all they do is give me a headache and do nothing to the flies. Then there are the smouldering coil things which probably also contain nasty carcinogens. They certainly stink the place out for days on end - the smoke is enough to dissuade me from staying in the room, let alone the flies.
When I was little there used to be those rolls of fly-paper which you could get and dangle from a nail or light fitting. They were covered in sticky goo so were not too nice when wrapped around your head, as inevitably happened to children, and particularly unpleasant when fly-coated. But that's the point - they were fly coated! Somehow flies were drawn to them, got stuck, and died a miserable, lingering death. Perfect! Trouble is, no one here's heard of them so that's a non-starter.
What I've found does work is Citronella Oil. You dab it onto exposed skin and the smell keeps the mosquitoes away. It's quite strong stuff and so some people mix it with olive oil to thin it a little. I don't do that because I'm too lazy to track down a suitable container. I use it neat, and, fortunately, it doesn't seem to have damaged my skin that I notice. You need to reapply it every few hours which is a bit of a nuisance, but it's cheap and doesn't smell too bad. Spray or lotion with 'Deet' in it is the other thing that works, but I haven't found that in the local shops, and the stuff in the UK is quite expensive and short-lasting.
I could have a net above my bed but I haven't done that. And anyway, if I'm in the room writing this blog, reading or surfing the Internet, I don't want to do it under a breeze-sapping net. The mosquitoes around here are not the malaria-bearing ones. They're probably the dengue-fever-bearing ones but I'm hoping that's not quite as bad. Do I take any prophylactic medicines? Nope - being here for such a long time, I wouldn't want to fill my body with such chemical nasties. I'll be doing quite enough of that when I eat my mouth-numbingly-spicy rice 'n' curry this lunchtime!
R-i-g-h-t! Time for a shower, shave, and then breakfast...
Later: Maybe you'll be pleased to hear that I decided to go further afield for lunch and managed to get a 'lunch packet' made in front of my eyes and in fairly wholesome conditions :)
Posted by Clive at 08:19