Alex lost in India-plus skips, blind leading blind
Hey guys, Sorry this entry was supposed to come earlier in the week! But turns out I'm not superhuman and the famous deli belly caught up with me. Still think I came off rather lightly, was more preturbed by fact that everytime I went to stand up I thought I was going to fall over, medical student hyperchondria went into overdrive; was sure I had joint pain with fever, deffinantely chikungunya fever, but then I was sure I could feel I had splenomegaly deffinately malaria. Turns out fine now so probably just virus but not convinced dengue fever isn't around the corner! Anyway I did go on a wonder on sunday. Did a lot of people watching and looking around. It's quite amazing here how such a mix of people mill around in this never ending chaos. Stumbled on a shopping mall with a 'happiness sale', if only it were that easy! Have really settled into my life here aswell. Fresh mango and guarva for breakfast followed by a now nice warm shower as my geiser has been fixed thanks to sister Julie (an irish nurse who has worked at st marthas for 70 years, went home last year but got ill on flight so decided better to stay here!) Bit of drama at the weekend as Abi's cousin (abs if this is the first you know about it-though i'm sure iot's not he's fine and recovering) had an accident on his bike. Have been to see him in the big swanky hospital (nothing like SMH) and he's improving and been discharged now, going to meet him and his family this afternoon. This weeks been a bit of an eye opener. I had my first clinic in the slums this week. I wanted to write sooner about the experience whilst it was still fresh so this is from my travel diary...two oclock rolled in and I went to the adminisation building to meet Dr Soshmitha and Uma the community worker . I thought this was to have a chat but actually we were going out 'to the feild' and we waited for the transport to turn up. We then cl;imbed into the back of a converted camper van (a little different from those seen at 'run to the sun' Dee) and bumped our way across Banglore whilst I had explained to me the different programmes and clinics which they run. We then drove into a bus park and reversed into what I first thought was a building site, however this turned out to be the entrance to the slum. This particular one is of people from the nearby state of Tamil Nadu so they speak Tamil (have learnt theres 32 different languages in India- most of the docs speak about 6!) A long wall to the right was covered by a line of the trailers with flat toips that they use to sell things as street venders all in a neat row with paddlocks on the wheels. Then the first houses I could see were breezeblack walls with reed woven roofs about 3mx1.5m. There were the usual street dogs running around and snapping at each other. To the left of where we were parked was an abandoned private clinic were a man was stood sniffing something out of a bag in a doorway, I forgot to ask what this was, but had my guesses. Anyway Uma asked if I wanted to go for a walk with her to find the health worker they had appointed (this is a non-trained person from the community.) We started walking and she explained that a lot of government work had been done in the slum, that 3 years ago there were no roads, toilets or electricity and that living conditions were a lot better. But to learn that 10-15 people live in some of those houses and their living conditions were still pretty shocking! But they were some of the friendlist people I have ever met. They all said hello as we walked past and smiled and waved. Uma knew them all by name inquiring if they'de been attending school and if their families were okay. The houses varied greatly, some were like small houses with four stone walls and a proper roof and some were like garden sheds. One woman who said to Uma I had the fairest skin she had ever seen asked if I had had lunch and if I was hungry. Many offered me coffee, I pasted some women sitting in a circle playing a game with some poles and stones on a grid who offered to teach me to play. I would have loved to have stayed and drank coffee and learnt. They all have these beautiful bright saras on and big red smiles from the berries they chew. But we had to do the clinic. We found the health worker having her hair groomed for nits, with some children. Outside what I think is their temple. Brick building with some very bright staues at one end. There are strings of strings with banana leafs woven in them hang like garlands between houses and garlands of jasmine flowers around shrines which offer much needed whiffs of sweet smells. One of the kids missed pissing on my foot my mms (I was wearing flipflops.) The clinic had a lovely feeling to it as we laughed and joked with the patients. I was stunned by the community atmosphere there was there. By how welcoming and generous these people were who had so little. They pay one ruppee (about 3p) towards their medication, I think this is so it isn't charity. I will be going with the community team now most afternoons. I feel really priviledged to see this side of life which I never thought I would. At one point a women came to ask about her son who was an alcoholic and kept beating her up. Some of the other women expressed concern to, I won't go into too many details but he was in hell of a state and it was very sad to see. He kept sheilding his face with his arm, I wasn't sure from the sunlight or shame. WHilst the Doctor spoke to him I managed to get myself caught in a game of tag with some kids. Weaving in and out of little alleys and round open fire stooves with kids playing with wood and coocnuts. The kids shreiked with joy when they got me. I really enjoyed meeting these people and think I can learn a lot from them. We're going to do two other clinics tomorrow and tueday and then wednesday all day we're doing child health exams at government set up creches for children of labourers who work in the suburbs. Will keep you posted and hopefully be well to do those temples next weekend. Also will sort out photos promise! P.S. Would like it to be known have now been tee total and vice free for 2 weeks now! Reformed!