Although, ever since my surgery, my sinusitis has been much better, it still flares up from time to time. In Bangkok, it has been more or less fine last 2 years. But last weekend, it suddenly flared up. I suffered from bad headaches for 2 days and couldn’t take it anymore. Normally, I know exactly which spray to use to relieve my symptoms, but in Bangkok, it is not available OTC. This meant, I needed to go to a doctor (hospital) for the medication. Normally I go to Bumrungrad for other ailments, but this time, in a bid to save money, I decided to go to Samitivej Sukhumvit Hospital. Big mistake!
I got an appointment soon enough and went to see the ENT. Didn’t have to wait too long, saw the doctor within 10 minutes. I explained to the doctor that I am a long time sufferer of sinusitis and informed her which medication generally relieves my symptoms.
She said straight away this doesn’t look like Sinusitis and sent me for a CT scan.
For a sinus headache.
Once the CT scan was done, she looked at the slide and said this is not Sinusitis and referred me to a Neurologist. I complained that I just need a steroid spray but she sent me for a neuro consult anyways.
The neurologist ran a battery of tests on me and told me I have a migraine. I told her I have no prior or family history of migraines but she prescribed me a bunch of medications anyways.
Then I was sent back to the ENT. By this time, the formal CT scan report had arrived and guess what it said – “Severe sinusitis”. The ENT asked me to take the migraine medications and on top of that prescribed me some sinusitis medication too. Including the spray I wanted. They also scheduled 2 follow up appointments, one with the ENT and one with the neurologist.
Eventually, I walked out of the hospital with 9 medications (out of which only 1 that I really needed). I paid THB 8500 for this farce of a treatment. The insurance only covered THB2000, so I ended up paying THB6500 from my own pocket.
After coming home, I threw away 8 medications, used the spray and experienced relief within an hour. Then I slapped myself 21 times and swore never to go to Samitivej hospital again.
My friends know about my eSim suffering for quite some time, as I have been doing constant RR about it for months now. Still, I thought I should put my ordeal in words to document it for my future self.
The story starts some time in 2020. Me and the wife were living in India, happy with Jio SIM cards for our Indian numbers. Both numbers were registered under my name. Then we found out we were moving to Bangkok. I was not sure if I could get eSIMs for our Bangkok numbers and our phones could accept only 1 physical SIM card at a time. So I decided to convert our Jio SIM cards to eSIMs before going to Bangkok.
I regret doing that, to this day.
Turns out, it is ridiculously easy to get eSIMs in Bangkok. Never mind, no harm done. But then, I realised we could not buy new phones because the Indian eSIMs can not be transferred to new phones. Never mind, we don’t need new phones anytime soon. I thought I could convert back our SIMs to physical SIMs the next time I went to India. Then we would be free to buy new phones in Bangkok.
The Second Mistake
Then I went ahead and killed my wife’s phone (And the eSIM inside it) attempting underwater photography.
We use our Indian phone numbers to authenticate Indian banking transactions and what not (Indian society is built on OTPs). It was imperative we replaced her SIM as soon as possible. Suddenly, the pressure to go to India and replace our SIMs was real and immediate.
The process is pretty straight forward. You walk in to a Jio store, the personnel use an app to do biometric verification and click a photo of you. Then the request is sent to a back-end team for verification and once approved, your new SIM is activated.
The (attempted) rectification
I booked the cheapest tickets possible and travelled to Kolkata within weeks. I thought it would be a simple transaction and I would soon return with physical SIMs for both our numbers. My wife would get her number back and I would be free to buy a new phone. How wrong I was.
After a sleepless night travelling, I woke up early morning to find a Jio store and request a SIM replacement. It took them only 20 minutes to issue me new physical SIMs for both our numbers and was told they would be activated within 4 hours. Happily I went on my way. Soon, the 4 hours were up and the physical SIMs were still not activated. So we went to the Jio store to follow up and were told the requests were rejected due to “photo mismatch”.
I was flabbergasted. The only reason I could think of was when I had bought these numbers, I had longer hair and now, I had recently shaved my head. Either ways, I begged the staff to do the process again. We waited half an hour and again – rejected. With time running out for my return flight, I dis-heartedly bought a new number for my wife and left India with my tail between my legs.
My wife had to travel to India to change her phone number with government agencies and bank accounts. I still have an eSim for my India number. If my phone were to die tomorrow, I would have to go to India again with no guarantee that I would get a replacement SIM.
I love coffee. In fact I love it as much as I love beer. However, unlike beer, I need coffee. I need it desperately to start my day and function as a human.
Part 1: Cheapdisgusting Coffee
The earliest I can remember drinking coffee is during college, to stay up at night to pretend to study. Since we were poor, it was Nescafé Instant coffee that we had. It was disgusting, but it was stimulating enough to keep one awake. The cold coffee at Anna’s was slightly better, although he didn’t put enough of the powder in, unless you nagged him. Anna also used the same Nescafé instant shit, so there was a theoretical limit to how good it could be.
Now, I would rather have an injection of caffeine directly into my veins than drink this cheap shit.
For the real brewed version, we went to Café Coffee Day or Barista. My favourite drink at Café Coffee Day was Iced Eskimo, a kind of slushy which took a long time to melt and finish. At Barista, I almost always had a Vanilla Frappe. Needless to say, we couldn’t afford this regularly.
During the first few years of work, I alternated between Nescafé instant at home and the office coffee machine. Around this time I also went lactose intolerant so started having my coffee black (Americano).
Part 2: Switch to Brewed Coffee
Eventually, I bought my own cheap brewing machine. I used to buy beans from Barista and used a grinder to grind the beans. I remember once I got coffee beans from Brazil and they were amazing and strong. After I switched back to my regular beans, I had caffeine withdrawal for a week.
Soon, I started suffering from acidity from the strong black coffee.
I read about cold brewing and how it is easier on the stomach, so started doing that. The results were great, but the prep was too troublesome and messy.
I also stopped having coffee after noons, as it didn’t let me sleep at night. I also discovered that the Chinese don’t really drink much coffee and view it as an unhealthy drink; preferring tea instead.
Eventually, we almost stopped going to Cafe Coffee Day and almost always preferred Barista.
No prep required, all one had to do was mix and drink.
It was easy on the stomach, while still packing a punch.
For the next few years, Sleepy Owl poured over ice was all I had at home. I remember during the COVID lockdowns, I was once almost out of it and had to ration till I could get another box delivered.
My Sleepy Owl recipe (after a lot of trial-and-error) was:
2 cubes of sugar
75ml Sleepy Owl Cold Brew
I carried Sleepy Owl’s brew bags when I travelled, too.
During this time, I also developed a morning coffee ritual. I wouldn’t look at my phone after waking up. Instead, I would make myself some cold brew and then sit next to the window with my coffee, looking out. I would do nothing else during this time, except sip slowly on my cold brew and savour each sip. I would do this for up to an hour before I would check my phone and start my day. It was beautiful.
Alas, it was not to last forever.
Eventually I moved to Thailand, along with the last 2 boxes of my Sleepy Owl cold brew. They lasted over a month, but eventually I had to look for alternatives.
Part 4: Thailand andNespresso
I looked for Cold Brew in Thailand, but it was rare and not easy to get as concentrate. A fiend of mine suggested Nespresso; so I got a Nespresso machine. It combined the advantages of freshly ground coffee (pods are sealed) and convenience (just pop a pod in and press a button). To keep my acidity in control, I stick to pods with strength levels of 5 and below.
It is no sleepy owl, but at least it tastes good and I can have different flavours every day. My favourite pods are Tokyo Lungo and Shanghai Lungo. My recipe is:
2 cubes of sugar
A shot of Nespresso Lungo
There’s no Cafe Coffee Day or Barista here, but I love Cafe Amazon, a Thai coffee chain. I love their Iced Espresso.
My morning coffee is still the best part of my day. I can’t wait to return to India once again and get myself some Sleepy Owl & Barista.
When I was making a Facebook account recently, it asked me what my Hometown was. I thought about it for a while, but didn’t have an answer. Looks like I have had such a nomadic life, I don’t have a Hometown.
This year, I had another weird birthday. My last birthday was spent in Bangkok, alone at a hotel. After that, I thought I might never travel to Bangkok again, but coincidentally, not only am I back in Bangkok, I even spent my birthday in the exact same hotel.
The difference was, this time I wasn’t alone, but with family.
Spent the day at IconSiam & bought the Apple Watch braided solo loop as a birthday gift. Overall, a nice upgrade from my last birthday.
Since I left Gurgaon & moved to Bangkok, I have been in quarantine with my family. Almost 1 week in, it has been a bit difficult, but not torturous.
We are not allowed to leave our hotel rooms, except to pick up the food which is placed outside our rooms 3 times a day. Apart from this, our only window into the outside world are the windows with the same constant view.
The only difference in the view is how it changes between day and night & during different hours of the day depending on the angle of the sun.
Looking forward to getting out of quarantine in 9 more days and exploring the city (again).
During my last trip to Bangkok, I had a yearning to go visit a beach. Me and my Indian friend decided to head to Bang Saen, which is a beach in Chonburi province, a little more than an hour’s drive from Bangkok. He also brought along his Indian roommate. His name, translated to English literally means Snake 🐍, so that’s how we’ll refer to him for the rest of the story.
The Snake is your typical Indian tourist who doesn’t want to part with any of his money & is always on his guard thinking that everyone is out to cheat him. He cribbed about paying 10 Baht to use the changing rooms (why can’t we just change behind that tree?), paying 50 Baht to use the beach chairs (we should have brought our own chairs). He cribbed about paying for food (so overpriced). When we decided to ride the crazy sofa, he immediately began to haggle with the operator. Note that, he paid for none of the above things; he is just a habitual haggler.
Unlike a Banana boat, which is streamlined and cuts through the water gracefully, a crazy sofa is inherently unstable and would bounce and flop around even in the most stable waters. So when the snake haggled with the operator and the operator agreed to reduce his rate, but with a nefarious smile slowly spreading across his face, I knew something was wrong.
So started our crazy sofa ride, with me and my friend on each edge and the snake in the middle. It soon became clear that the operator’s main agenda was to punish us for haggling like every other Indian that had crossed his path in the past. The ride was simultaneously the most thrilling and the scariest experience of my life. The operator was going much faster than usual, the sofa was bouncing like crazy and we were holding on to the plastic handles for dear life and screaming for the guy to stop (he conveniently forgot how to understand even the most basic English words).
A Crazy Sofa ride, not our Crazy Sofa Ride
Now would be a good time to mention that the snake easily weighed >100kg and was bobbing around both sides and hitting me and my friend (who were already bouncing hard) and only sheer terror made us hold on and prevented us from being thrown off the sofa. Multiple times, the sofa was airborne for more than 5 seconds at a time and more than a couple times, it almost overturned.
When the operator finally stopped the Jet ski and let us off, we literally toppled into the water from sheer exhaustion and took a long time to wade back to the beach.
Next day, woke up with soreness in unusual parts of the body, like the joints of fingers etc. This was one adventure, though, that I am unlikely to forget soon.