Saturday, August 29, 2009

Bi-Cultural Cold Remedies

Every little corner of the world has its own traditions/die-hard beliefs about how to treat illness.

I view a cold as a pain in my butt. When someone in my family has a cold, it's usually an even bigger pain in my butt. In my (white Midwestern American) mind, it is what it is - nothing's really going to make a cold better until it decides to run its course.

In my husband's (Indian) family, illness is a sort of minidrama. If one of the kids gets a cough, Ben's parents call every day to find out if it's better yet. If we lived in New York, I'm sure we would be the daily recipients of chicken soup (with the bones in it) and possibly ayurvedic oils that could clear the nasal passages of a congested elephant.

I'm not sure if Simon is sick or just a little worn down from his new preschool adventure. Either way, yesterday he was a tad listless and was sporting a cough that conveniently started every time he was supposed to eat or sleep or do anything he didn't want to do.

I asked him what he needed, and he said he needed hot tea. I thought that was a pretty hilarious request from a little guy, but then remembered how he LOVED the chai we drank four times daily in India. Of course he loved it - sugar-laden chai has probably been the single-biggest cause of diabetes in India (again, I'm no doctor).

So, being the loving mommy that I am, and being a little proud that Simon's Indian-ness was coming through, I whipped out the cardamom, cinnamon sticks, cloves and teabags (and sugar).

But my little guy is only half Indian. He looked at his chai and then he smiled and said - "With marshmallows please."

The marshmallow chai cured the melancholy but not the cough, so my husband gleefully slathered some Vick's on his chest that night. Gleefully, because Vick's (in my experience) seems to be the drug of choice in some Indian homes, and I HATE the stuff.  After that, my baby slept.
So, in the bi-cultural medical wars, the score remains:
Brown: 1.5   White: .5
So far, honey, you win.


Anonymous said...

With marshmallows please ... I LOVE that! Get better, little guy!

Suzanne said...

I can totally relate to the bi-cultural remedies!! :)

In Erik's family bay leaf tea, Alka-seltzer, and Vick's are the remedies of choice for most things. Vick's is good for cough (you heat in a spoon and sniff the vapors, or better yet, swallow a little bit!), colds (rub on chest), muscle aches/pains (rub on affected area), and insect bites. Bay leaves are good for upset stomach, general feeling sick, etc. Alka-seltzer is used as it is here - general stomach issues. Honey is used to treat wounds (like the time Erik machetted the tip of one finger 95% off). Lime juice with salt is used for sore throats... The list goes on.

I've introduced them to Pepto-bismol which they've fallen in love with. And they love the Costco sized bottles of Tylenol and Ibuprofen that I bring them.

Kirsten said...

I am laughing so hard. My in-laws tell me to use Vick's for practically every ailment. I used to hate it, but now I'm used it. I even used it myself once.

My favorite was when they told me to put raw onion slices on all the window sills to cure a cold.

Maggie May said...

i found you through Anymommy and enjoyed browsing your entries here-your son is gorgeous! and i hope he feels better. we use heat presses, garlic, echinachea, vit c!