Arts & Crafts In The Hospital

Mysore, India – Woke up and Kate hit the bell so we could have our tea. We headed out and over to the tailors, as usual, then went to the outdoor market to pick up the supplies we’d need for this afternoon’s activities at the hospital. We headed to the hospital, gave Rich his lunch and showed him what we’d bought at the market. In addition to selling fruits and vegetables the vendors also sell water based paints in every color you can imagine. There are bowls full of the powered paints all over the market, so Kate and I picked up a bunch along with some potatoes and coconuts. We’d also brought with us a bedsheet stolen from the hotel and some string to tie it up onto the lone light fixture. After re-arranging the furniture in Rich’s hospital room I tied the sheet to the neon tube on the wall while Kate began mixing paint in each half of the coconuts I’d cracked open. Rich was sitting on the bed using his Swiss army knife to carve the potatoes into those potato ink stamps you used to make in pre-school. We were going to paint a mural on the stolen bedsheet to give Rich’s room some decor, and Rich something to do because he was so bored from sitting in there.

Kate was busy mixing paint in any container she could find – specimen dish, water jug, you name it, it had paint in it. We had all the paints mixed and were about to start when Nancy (nurse #2) came in and saw what we were doing. She had this really perturbed look on her face until Kate thrust one of the potato stamps into her hand and told her to dip it into the paint. At that, Rich’s nurse was happily imprinting purple stars on our virgin bedsheet canvas. The nurse left and Kate and I used the stamps (and our hands) and went at it. When word got out about what the sahibs were doing in Rich’s room there was a never ending flow of nurses and doctors popping their heads in the room to see what was going on. One old hag head nurse came in with an entourage of like eight people and said in broken English, “Not on the walls. Not on the walls.” We nodded our heads yes, oblivious to the fact that the paint was seeping through the sheet onto the wall behind; we’d find out about that later.

We finished our mural, getting a fair amount of paint on the floor, then took turns taking pictures standing next to our masterpiece.

Rich was really depressed being locked up in a hospital room with a translucent frosted window, an air conditioner and a fluorescent tube to look at. He had the looks and demeanor of a P.O.W. refugee, and the doctors weren’t giving him the best medical care on top of it. I was going to call our Consulate in Madras to get a medical reference to someone who could give Rich adequate medical care.

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