I have many lasting memories of my three years in India, some hilarious (the naked sun worshipper on the bonnet of our car), others heart wrenching (the mass of humanity I saw every day outside my front gate), but mostly good.
There's the cultural influences, the poverty, the heat, the welcoming locals, the food (Bukhara Room rules!) and, of course, the many International friends I made (many of whom I am still in touch with, thanks to the Internets.),
But it seems I have one lasting effect, which means I may not have saved three lives back in January,
Turns out the blood bank was only able to use my plasma (so, I did save at least one life) because, get this, I have malaria antibodies in my blood, that must have been making themselves at home for the past 25 or so years.
Before you give blood, you need to answer some short questions (you know the kind : "Have you ever had unproteted sex with a intravenous drug user?"). I usually go along the rows of these and answer "No" to all these (which, quite frankly makes my life sound a little boring).
Until I got to the one "Have you ever lived or travelled more more than three months in a malaria-affected area?"
Something interesting about me.
It threw the Red Cross nurse into a bit of a lather, as she wasn't sure whether I needed to be tested, since I was in India so long ago (back when Michael Jackon was black and a web was something spiders wove).
Anyway she looked through all her material and learned that yes, anyone who had spent any length of time, no matter how long ago, in India, needed testing for malaria antibodies.
I thought nothing more of it until a week or so ago when I received a letter with, in bold letters, about 72 point, it read "Malaria Information Sheet."
It turns out to not be such a big deal, it just shows that my antibodies did what antibodies are meant to do, that is fight infection. And it doesn't mean that I have (or ever had) malaria. Unfortuately, it also doesn't mean that I can't catch malaria.
As for donating blood, I will need to be tested each time I front up to the blood bank.
In the absence of symptoms, I can still give plasma. Whch is better than nothing, and more than a lot of people do.
And I still have all those other great memories.