Around step 2 (from the top), my feet slipped out from under me, and I found my body sliding ungracefully down while the back and right side of my head bounced behind it against each of the steps. Luckily (for Shrenik), I instinctively wrapped my arms around the dog and let my back take a beating without attempting to break the fall with my arms. Shrenik got away unscathed.
Somehow, I went from downward motion on my back to kneeling at the bottom of the stairs (still holding the dog), groaning and wondering if anything was broken. It was hurting pretty bad, but I finally decided there was nothing seriously wrong and, after handing the dog to Kelly, got up to brush off the dirt.
Kelly was talking to me, asking if I was OK. At first, I was saying "yes". But, seconds later, I was seeing white spots that looked like a flock of birds, and her voice was muted like the sound of someone screaming underwater. She forced me to sit back down on one of the lower steps of the staircase, which I reluctantly did (there were a bunch of ants there). She kept saying, "Do you remember what day it is? It's our anniversary", which I thought was strange. Of course it was our anniversary. Of course I remembered. I started to drift off a little, Hindi fragments streaming through my constantly running background thought process, trying to piece together valid sentences that would adequately represent what I was thinking.
In complete darkness, I was on the verge of a breakthrough in my understanding of and ability to speak Hindi, when I was interrupted by the pleasant and seemingly cheerful sound of Kelly waking me up. At the time, it sounded like any typical morning wakeup call. I'd been "sleeping" comfortably for what seemed like hours. It turns out it was only around 30 seconds. And, my "bed" was the wooden, ant-covered stairway up to our cabin. Apparently, I had started to slur my speech, my body stiffened up, my head started rolling around (eyes still open), and I fell half-way through the staircase railing. I hung and flailed from the staircase while Kelly screamed at me to wake up and at Ramesh to come from his cabin to help. I would have slid down for another blow to the head (this time head-first) if Kelly hadn't been holding on the whole time.
When I woke up, everything was red and moving like a strobe light. I strained my eyes, but could only make out a portion of what was in front of me. Sound came in and out of the muffled state like a pair of burnt up computer speakers. Kelly ran to get Ramesh, so I wrapped the dog leashes around my arms in case I passed out again (which I did, I think).
Eventually a couple of the hotel staff members were there with Kelly and Ramesh, helping to get me to the car. I wasn't fully with it yet. I remember telling Raju, one of the hotel workers, (In Hindi) that I was sorry for being so big and that if I fell on him, we'd both be in trouble.
We all rode into the small town of Masinagudi, where there is a catholic "hospital". The best comparison I can make for the American reader is that it was something like the office space of an American small town gas station. We had to wait a few minutes while the doctor finished praying. When she returned, she spoke a lot of Tamil, took my blood pressure, touched my arms a lot, and finally declared that my blood pressure was low and she was going to give me an injection. Kelly asked questions until we were appeased enough to go ahead with the injection, but we're still not exactly sure what it was. "Beta"-something-or-other, I think. They gave me the shot in the top of the hand, which I always hate. The doctor also "prescribed" (prescriptions aren't generally necessary in India) some tablets to help with the pain. The entire hospital experience set us back about $1.
I guess the moral of the story is that you should always hold the railing when on the stairs. I know I did for the rest of the weekend.
All that aside, it was a really nice trip. We saw two new animals this time: A black mongoose and a black bear. We also had some closer elephant encounters, which made both Kelly and Ramesh pretty nervous. I continued my unbroken losing streak of chess games against Ramesh (one of which was lost in something like 5 turns). There was rioting all along Mysore road (dispute over who gets water from the river), so we had a slightly longer and bumpier ride home from the forest this morning. We passed a town along the way where the police were apparently on the verge of catching the infamous Robin-Hood-esque Veerapan.
An eventful trip, but I'm glad to be back in Bangalore.