Every now and then, the strain of working six days a week in a different culture, in a different language starts to wear on my spirits. I find myself a little less jovial, a little tense, and sometimes even morose. Usually on those days, my patients arrive with an excellent sense of humor. Call it kismet, fate, the universe providing, or good old serendipity, I am grateful for it every time.
Working in the large clinic room with my colleagues Emma Goulart and Joey Chan, we had a steady stream of humorous patients. First thing in the morning, every chair in the room held a person. Then the sassing began. Two of our patients traveled by foot for 45 minutes, and knew that we had scheduled a photo-shoot for today. The two friends had been making this journey once or twice a week off and on for nearly two years, and they wanted some photos with their acupuncturists. We decided to do acupuncture first, photos second. Tsering, one of our interpreters, started taking photos during the acupuncture treatments. Our ladies started a good natured heckling session with the interpreters, expecting our photos to be staged, smiling, and not focused on treatment. I don’t really know all the heckling that occurred, but the entire room erupted into laughter. The laughter and sassing grew contagious, spreading across the room with neighbors ribbing neighbors, and filling the room with chuckles.
When the treatment ended, the ladies started pulling out props for the photo shoot. They pulled out a purse and two bags and started pilling produce in our laps. Before I realized exactly what was happening, I had seven daikon radishes in my lap and was holding a bundle of mustard greens like a bouquet. Still more produce poured out of the bags, two sacks of sour oranges from their tree, a bag of fried dough balls, and two bottles of home brew rachshi. The rachsi is deadly, as it tastes nearly like water, but has a rather high alcohol content. They even brought two plastic flowers to float in the rachshi bottles. They want the flower bedecked rachshi bottles displayed proudly. Joey and I laughed heartily as the produce piled high in our laps. Again, the room erupted in laughter.
We took loads of photos, promising to print them out at the digital shop down the road, and continued to treat. The sounds of laughter ringing throughout the treatment room throughout the day. These days make my heart grow warm. I thank my interpreters for helping me to bring humor to the treatment, especially since I don’t know the right jokes to say here in Nepal. They take care of it for me and laughter still remains a large part of my treatment room.