Colds usually mean nothing more serious than spending more money than I would like on Kleenex, but every once in a while, one of them hits me with the force of a John Deere tractor and turns my life into the week of the living dead. Faced with the conventional wisdom of "Get lots of sleep, drink lots of water," I buy lemon grass, lime leaves, Thai chilis, a jar of chili paste and make soup, spicy-hot enough to make me hiccup, slather my skin with Tiger Balm and do my best to burn the virus out.
In Bangkok, I did exactly the opposite. When a monster cold laid me flat, my friend Rod would come over with Alka-Seltzer for colds (unpurchasable in Thailand, brought from the States, and hoarded for emergency use only) and a bowl of Campbell's chicken noodle soup, bland, salty, and completely comforting.
Maybe these momentary health lapses of mine are simply exaggerated attacks of homesickness for one of my two homes, and are cured only by edible memories of whichever place I happen to be away from. It's something to keep in mind when I'm packing to return to Bangkok next year--make room for the Campbell soup cans and boxes of Alka-Seltzer.