Saturday, November 08, 2008

Wal-Mart and Zolfresh

The journey isn’t complete until your body and mind merge into the same time zone. After 30 hours of travel, 18 of them in an airplane and the balance in airports, my journey to Asia and back is nearly complete. Eight weeks and 40,000 miles of travel are over, but one cannot quite say they are home until they can sleep right through the night and can stay awake throughout the day.

For me, jetlag is a part of the job, so I am forever trying to learn new ways to make the transition less painful. Staying awake all day without so much as a power nap is nearly impossible. When the body tells you it’s 3 a.m. in Bangalore yet you jut finished lunch in Arkansas, there is no way to convince the sleep sensors of the brain differently. I fight to stay awake until 9 p.m., but succumb to the lure of the mattress and pillow before 8, convinced that I will not wake again for at least three days. Four hours later my eyes pop open, I feel refreshed, but why is it still dark outside? And, by the way, where am I? Stumbling for the light in a room that I vaguely remember, I discover that it’s 1 a.m. Now what do I do until the light of day?

Two options at the beginning of closing the journey is Wal-Mart or zolfresh.

For my non-Western friends, Wal-Mart is the largest retailer in the U.S., with annual revenue of over $300 billion. Most of their stores are open 24/7, selling everything from eggs to tractor parts -- if Wal-Mart doesn’t have it you probably don’t need it. The superstores are nearly 10 acres of clothes, house wares, electronics, food and even a full service pharmacy where you take your own blood pressure. When your body doesn’t know you should be prone rather than upright, nothing is more interesting than walking the aisles of Wal-Mart and observing who else can’t sleep.

The other option is chemically telling your body that you’ve had it and YOU WILL GO TO SLEEP! Taking 10 mg of this little pill is forcing the body into submission, but it still doesn’t help the drowsies in the afternoon, so you end up at Wal-Mart anyway.

When I asked a flight attendant what she did to beat international jetlag she shrugged and said matter-of-factly, “Not much. I just brace myself to feel like crap for three days.” Not exactly the answer I was looking for, but reality is a harsh teacher.