Sunday, January 16, 2011

What an amazing trip!

Hello! This is my first post! I am truely loving all the adventures we have encountered thus far..and with such a great group of people. We have all laughed until our cheeks ached! Thanks to our fearless tour guide Geoff, we, his 4 ducklings in tow, have experienced so much of this culture in a short amount of time. Our time in Sapnawat Village was one of my favorites. Although we were only able to stay 5 days, I think we accomplished alot. The family we stayed with was so gracious and generous. They cooked delicious meals and taught us Bollywood style dance moves! On our second day, they helped us set up a clinic in part of their house. We instantly had people from the village lined up for medical care. Vibov, Vishal, Deepika, and Pryanka, the children from our host family, as well as Vikrant, son of Dr. Shesh and Dr. Preity of the village were so helpful translating between us and our patients. We then used various medical supplies we brought to help diagnose. I focused mainly on the children and saw many damaged ear drums and loss of hearing from chronic untreated ear infections, month long urinary tract infections, asthma, and colds. We prescribed antibiotics when needed, but also learned alot about homeopathic medicine from Dr. Sarter, and when to use it. For certain patients, homeopathy was a beneficial and desired option. Our patients could pick up the medications from the pharmacy right around the corner, and even return for further explanation. We are still tallying numbers, but saw roughly over 60 patients per day! The village was so welcoming, truely made us feel like part of their family. I would love to return some day and help again. Our last night we passed out toys, crayons, coloring books, and cars we brought for the children...and there were so many kids, it was so fun! I hope to go back to the village some was a simple lifestyle filled with so much happiness and love, everyone took care of one another. It was such an amazing experience. We made many lifelong friendships and lasting memories.

Goodbye Mumbai

Our stay in Mumbai is sadly coming to an end. We had a wonderful time visiting this vibrant city. There's so much to see, art, theater, film, museums, and intriguing districts within the city. It's such a city of contrast, from abject poverty to outrageous wealth. While here we visited the ancient caves on Elephanta Island, where the lord Shiva has been venerated with the creation of a series of caves/temples dug out of the mountain side, and containing wonderful sculptures. Unfortunately, the island is plagued with trash, bottles, plastic bags, food wrappers, left behind by unthinking visitors, a crying shame.
We also managed to see a Bollywood movie, and though in Hindi, were able to follow the story line and get quite a few laughs out of it, as well as some "really cool" dance moves. If I ever leave nursing it will be as a dance extra in Bollywood movies :o)
We had a wonderful guide, Zach. A friend of a friend, who took a lot of time out of his day to guide us around the city and make sure we didn't get into too much trouble. Thanks Zach, we appreciate it.
I, like many people I imagine, am deeply troubled by the dire state of peoples lives in the city, living on the street in shacks put together with found objects, sheets of metal and plastic (and we didn't even get close to any of the vast slums of Delhi). We tried to share what we could, food, water, money, but the need is truly too great for the scant generosity of tourists to meet. I'm not sure what the answer is. I'm truly in awe of the resilience of these people, what they have to do to get through the day, and the struggle they have to provide even the most basic needs for themselves and their families.
I'm also totally impressed by how hard people work here. With very few of the conveniences we in the west enjoy, like trucks, forklifts, and earth movers, most of the labor done here is through brute strength. I wouldn't last very long at all. I've seen men on bicycle rickshaws transporting huge loads of goods, women carrying mixed cement on their heads at construction sites, and children tending fires, mixing cement, and caring for their younger siblings.
Most of all, what I take away from this stay in Mumbai is the ready smile people share. As a northern European looking male, I got my fair share of inquisitive looks and stares, but as soon as I smiled and nodded my head, everyone responded with a kind smile and the typical India head waggle.
I need to come back here. There's so much more I have to learn about this culture.
Gateway of India
Famous Leopold's Cafe
Sculpture in the caves of Elephanta Island
Wonderful decaying buildings.
A naughty little monkey.....
A seaside vendor.
Sunset at Chowpatty Beach.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

At the airport, heading to Mumbai

We're all very excited about our trip to Mumbai.

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

reflection on clinic and village life

In the Delhi airport awaiting our flight to Mumbai. I had a few moments to update the experiences of the village. The hospitality from the family we stayed with was beyond description. Nirmala the mother/wife of the house worked morning, noon, and night over a hot fire keeping our bellies full to the rim with delicious traditional Indian food. A true saint. She fed 8 of us 3 meals daily, and did not eat herself until we were all finished. This is Indian tradition for the household to eat after the guests.

Words can not describe the spice and favor of the Chai tea we were served 2-3 daily, nothing like the Chai I have had in the past. It was delightful.

We actually worked for a few day in the cold winter Sapnawat weather. People from all over came for care. Our presence was spread by word of mouth. The people had complaints of eye/vision problems, GI distress, hypertension, Diabetes, muscular skeletal pain, ear nose and throat problems, and skin complaints to name a few. They were satisfied with our care, and we can only hope they can obtain the follow-up they need from the government doctors infrequent visits.

We also dabbled in homeopathic medicine when medical history and medications were unclear. That was the safest treatment at times with instructions for follow up.

The family brought tears to our eyes as we were leaving. The heartfelt selfless giving they constantly shared with us was humbling. Words can not express the gratitude we feel for the depth of kindness they bestowed upon us. We will miss them terribly, even after such a short stay in their home.

Random Pictures of our trip thus far

Colorful Street Vendor
The Red Fort, Delhi
The Red Fort
Chandni Chowk (Old Delhi Markets)
...asking for directions.
Taking the autorickshaw (Tuk Tuk) for a night on the town.
Nirmala cooking our breakfast, she never stopped, bless her heart.
The breakfast room.
Men of the village who attend our clinic the day before, saying they felt better.
Upma being silly. The joy of being beautiful is that you can be silly and still look beautiful.
Moni and her goats.
We piled onto our host's ox cart for a tour of the village and farmlands, stopping along the way for a sugar cane treat.
So we had to leave the village earlier than expected due to circumstances beyond our control! We were all very sad to leave, great host family, amazing food. So today we are off on another adventure taking a plane to Mumbai! We are all so excited! 4 days! It's going to be great! We will keep you all posted!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Off to the Village we Go!

India has been amazing! The street markets are my favorite. Our group has had many adventures getting around the city! Yesterday riding the Metro to get back the hotel was funny and scary at the same time. After dinner we all went out for a drink to see the nightlife of Delhi. We went to two bars one had a live band which was great, and the other had a very elegant feel to it. We had great conversation as well. I am enjoying the time here with my fellow classmates. We are leaving shortly for the village and we don't know what to expect, but we are all in good spirits and ready to get to work!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Night on the town

Night out with the girls in Delhi. Live Malasian band plays requests.

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Two days in Delhi, still no Delhi belly.......

Well we made it to Delhi, and not without some hicups. I (Geoff) was the only one traveling from San Diego to get my luggage. Six people had to endure a couple of days without their clothes (thankfully Lufthansa gave them some cash to buy much needed fresh underwear and toiletries). Most of the luggage arrived yesterday and the last of it arrived last night.
Yesterday was our first full day of exploring the city. We hired a driver to take us around to visit famous sites such as the Red Fort (Lal Qila), a memorial to Ghandi (Raj Ghat), Old Delhi and it's fabulous street markets (Chandni Chowk), a memorial to the Indian soldiers who died in WWI (India Gate), the President's House (Rashtrapati Bhavan), and Humayun's Tomb. The highlights for me were the wonderful gardens of the Red Fort and Humayun's Tomb and the street markets of Old Delhi, where we enjoyed a fabulous lunch in Haldiram's, a chain cafeteria/deli/sweet shop and bakery. Mind blowingly delicious. Photos to follow, watch this space.

Two days in Delhi, still no Delhi Belly......

Well, we've had two full days in Delhi and yesterday (Thursday) was out first full day of exploring.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The USD Team

Waiting for our first of many flights. Everyone's really excited, planning our day trips in Delhi (oh, and the beer in Munich on our way through).

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Location:Lindbergh Field, San Diego International Airport

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Ready to go!!!!

There have been a flurry of last minute emails and text messages shared between our group.
I'm all packed and ready to go and I think I have everything, though my philosophy has always been, as long as I have my credit card and passport, I have everything I need.
In a little under 24 hours we will be in the air on our way to our first port of call in Europe, Munich. I hope they have a beer hall in the airport.

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Location:Faircross Pl,San Diego,United States