The horrible night (and evening) is back again. It’s back with a vengeance.
The same symptoms. Right according a scripts. Or a chemical.
You eat or (more usually) drink something and soon they are on you. All over you.
A vague pain starts in the stomach. The pain turns to a burning sensation.
The burning sensation, the inflammation spreads to the whole abdomen.
Pretty soon, your tongue seems to be on fire. It is not just the tip of the tongue, as in some other kind of problems.
Then it worsens. The whole upper body seems to be on fire. From the inside.
No other word can do it justice. Torture. That is the word, much as I try to avoid uttering (or writing) it.
(Any word used too much loses its meaning).
Anguish is also a good word, but perhaps not strong enough.
Some of the inflammation reaches the head. Fire seems to be running through your veins.
Everything else remains fine. You can think. You can even work, that is, if you manage to bear the pain and the burning.
Then there are the palpitations, of course. They add the terror that is hard to ignore.
The inflammation in the throat and on the tongue and the chest means that you feel as if you are choking, so eating (or sometimes even drinking) becomes difficult.
Apart from the pain and the inflammation, there is a real breathing problem. Which makes everything worse.
You can take a pain killer and an anti-inflammation pill, but it doesn’t help much.
Sometimes, the heartbeat goes wild too.
For the last few weeks, it had stopped. I don’t know why. In fact, I was feeling unusually well for the last two or three days. Today, it has started again.
As I am writing this, I am experiencing perhaps the worst of such cases so far.
I need to sleep, because I didn’t sleep much last night, or I should say this early morning.
Tomorrow, I have an appointment with a bank official. It is very important that I meet him tomorrow, but I am not sure if I will be able to make it.
I had met him some days ago. I have to meet him again because of a series of events that have taken place over the last few days.
Since I will be leaving France at the end of this month, I have to transfer my savings over the year to my Indian account.
It has turned into a nightmarish adventure that seems to have no end.
And I thought it was very easy to do. As a matter of fact, it is very easy. In theory. With internet banking.
The problem is that, to use the Internet banking for this purpose, I have to have my mobile phone number registered for something that is called a CERTICODE service. It is meant for better security.
The problems started because, after the initial period in France, when I got my proper mobile connection, I asked the bank to register the new number. It turned out that the number change was made only for certain kind of messages, not for this CERTICODE service.
I found this out only about a few weeks ago. I then started my rounds of the bank. At the counter, they told me that this can be done by calling their IVR (Interactive Voice Response) customer service number, not from the bank.
There was an Indian lady there, or someone of Indian or South Asian origin, who knew English (she did speak to me in English briefly and perfectly). But she pretended that she didn’t understand English and could only understand French. She talked to me mostly in French, which I could not understand. One of the other ladies there actually asked her why she was not speaking to me in English, but she evaded the question.
She did however (politely) made me meet the bank official assigned to me. He seemed annoyed at this meeting without an appointment, but he met me anyway. I explained the problem to him. He said, no problem. He checked my id card, as he is required to do. He opened the database and I could partially see the monitor. He said, yes, the CERTICODE number has not been changed. But he did not do anything in front of me. I was expecting that he would just type in the new number and save it. (He was expected to give me the receipt for the same too, as I understand, which he did not give). I noticed that he hadn’t changed anything, so I politely mentioned that this (the number still there on the screen) is my old number. He said, no problem, it is done. Since you have got it done with me, it is secure. I took him at his word, thinking that perhaps he was in hurry for something and he will change it later.
Several days gone by and the number did not change. In my Internet banking account, there was still the same old CERTICODE number.
Finally I went to the bank again. This time there was a person who did speak English. Initially he said it can’t be done. You have to call the customer care. He also said at first that the window (guichet) is closed, though others were being served. I stood there. Stood my gound, you could say. Then he asked me to wait at another counter. Finally he asked me for my bank card and he did change the number and give me a receipt. The number change takes 48 hours to become effective. That is one of the causes for the worry.
The same person had done a similar change many months ago, when I initially opted for the CERTICODE service, which is required for using the bank card as a credit card and for some other purposes such as money transfer.
I did call the customer care number, which I have problem using because — I understand spoken French very little. But, as if by a miracle, I got connected once to someone who spoke English well. I asked him about the number change. He said he can’t do it because he will need to check my id, which made sense. He said I will have to go to my bank to get it done. He said they told you that? I said yes. He said then I should change my bank. I don’t know what he meant by that.
When I mentioned to someone about the problems I was facing in getting my social security number and my health insurance, which I have given up on, I was told sarcastically that I should move to Britain. I have no idea what he meant by that.
Anyway, meanwhile, I was starting to wind up some things as I did not have much time left. I have one broadband connection and I had one mobile connection. Both from the same company. According to their guidelines, to close the accounts, you have to send a written letter to them by post.
For both connections, there are two options. One is that you want to terminate the connection immediately at the receipt of the letter of cancellation at their office. The other is that you opt for closing at the end of the month (for broadband) or at the end of the billing cycle (for the mobile connection: the date for me was 4th May, a safe date, as I would be leaving earlier).
For the broadband connection, there was a PDF file that I could generate and just fill in and enter my name etc. For the moblile connection, there was no such letter. So I just used the same format and language as the one for the broadband connection. In both cases, I (obviously) specifically opted for the end of the month option, not immediate termination.
Why on earth would I opt for immediate termination when I am leaving at the end of the month and urgently need both connections till the end of the month?
I sent the letter just before I went to the bank on the day when the English speaking person actually changed my CERTICODE number.
The number was changed to this same number which I was going to close at the end of the month.
And what happens? Several days go by (certainly more than 48 hours) and the CERTICODE number was still not changed. Then I wake up one day I find out that my mobile connection is not working. I receive an email soon that my connection has been terminated. That evening, I also find out (from Internet banking) that the CERTICODE number has been changed to the number that has been terminated.
The electronic change of phone number had not taken place even after several days, but the snail mail went at the speed of sound and the required action was taken immediately. To terminate the account.
I bought another number, a prepaid one. A more expensive option. I tried to recharge it with my French credit card (bank card), but it didn’t work because I can’t receive the ‘security’ code on my mobile and that is because the mobile number that it is sent to has been terminated. I try my Indian credit card, but the payment is not accepted for some unknown reason. I had used the same credit card sometime ago without any problem.
Finally, after some research, I manage to recharge with the bank card through the mobile itself with those hash based codes, an option that does not require the CERTICODE. I make two recharges. One for international calls and one for French calls. It turns out that I can call to India, but I can’t call to a French number because I have no credit in my account. The small amount of credit that the SIM card came with was wasted in trying to call the bank’s customer care. Now I try to make another recharge in the same way, one that will add some credit to the account, so that I can make calls within France.
But this time, the same card is not accepted. I tried for hours, but it refused to work.
The next day, with no other option, I went to a shop and asked for a recharge voucher. That problem, at least, was solved (I hope it remains solved), although at the shop I had to endure some derisive laughter, as if they knew what was going on with me.
So I went to the bank again. To get my new number registered for the CERTICODE service. The same English speaking person this time refused to change the number. He said the counter is closed, though again, others were being served. He, instead gave me an appointment (for several days later) with my bank official. That’s why I have to meet him tomorrow.
I hope it is understandable that, especially given the fact that soon I will be without a job, I am worried about not being able to transfer my savings to my Indian account. I will have to live on that for some time (at least).
But the fire is raging right now. And I am not sure I will be able to keep the appointment.
And it came back this time, once again, after a visit to Paris. And while coming back, guess who came and sat opposite me for most of the journey? In the very corner seat at the end of the coach? The girl who I believe was taking my video on that day a month or more ago on that steep slope. There is a possibility that I might be wrong about this. But in any case, I have come across that girl a few times before on my rare visits out. And as my station came and I was getting ready to get down, she had a mischievous smile on her face, looking out of the window.
I came to to the apartment and found that someone had come in, as an inner door that I had closed for sure, was open.
I drank some water. There was a slight smell that I have come to recognize and I knew what was coming.
And here it is. I am in pain, to put it simply. There is fire inside my body. I want to drink water. But I know as soon as I drink it, it will become worse.
I must say though that I am not sure that it is because of the water. It could be something else. Sometimes it seems to be related to something else. But whatever it is, it is worse than anything I have experienced in India, where I did experience similar things continuously.
And it is not an anxiety attack. I am a veteran of anxiety attacks and I know the symptoms inside-out. I don’t feel any anxiety in that (clinical) sense. I am not even agitated. There is no panic. The only anxiety that I feel is a perfectly rational anxiety about not being able to keep the appointment tomorrow.
All I feel is pure physical pain and fire raging inside the body.
I know that writing this here is certainly not going to help me. It might make things worse. They can always get worse. But I feel it necessary to write it.
That’s why I am doing it.