For any of you who are runners you are probably familiar with “hitting the wall” at some point during a race. Well, I think I hit that wall yesterday. I don’t think I’ve ever been as hot as I’ve been these past few days. During the first day of the wedding I thought that I couldn’t get any hotter. Then the second day of the wedding came and I said, “ok, now I can’t get any hotter”. Then unfortunately the clinic day in the country proved me wrong again. At this point my body gave in, and I came back to Pune with heat exhaustion. Blah!!
I starting to feel a little better after some cold showers and some rehydration, but I’m still not quite back to myself. I hate to do it, but I’ll be taking the next few days pretty easy.
Other than that…. The clinic was amazing! Three residents from the local medical school and one professor came along with us. Thy all spoke English, which was so wonderful, and were great about letting me do as much as I could while we saw the patients.
The town we went to was about 3 hours outside of Pune in this beautiful valley area. When we got to the clinic Dr. Dabak gave a little speech explaining who we were and that we were honored to come and serve their community. The community members then presented each of the volunteers a coconut which is a symbol of gratitude.
The morning was busy, but I enjoyed it so much! Even though I was just handing out the medicine and taking the blood pressures, it felt so great being able to help in some way.
We finished around 2 (this is when the sun starts to reek havoc) and went to a small house nearby to have lunch. The views were incredible from here, but this is when I started to break down with the heat exhaustion, so I don’t have too many fond memories of the day after this 😉
Here are some of the main events from this past week:
1.) the wedding of course!! Like I said in the last post, everything was beautiful, but pretty overwhelming. It was incredible to be able to see all of the different traditions, try the vvvvveeerrrryyy different food, listen to the music, and wear some of the beautiful sarees. Since it was in the country area Dada explained that many of the people there had never seen a foreigner, therefore, one of the overwhelming parts was the amount of curious stares I got. For someone who doesn’t like to be put in the spotlight, I felt a way out of my comfort zone. Everyone was extremely kind, though, and I enjoyed experiencing the wedding.
2.) Seeing first-hand the gender bias that is still present in India, especially the rural areas. Whenever we ate at the wedding the men would eat first and then the women would come in and have their meal. I’ve noticed this during our meals at home as well. The men, guests and children are fed before the women.
Also, during the clinic a family came in with an older girl (5 or 6 years) and a young boy (3 months). The girl was small and suffering from malnutrition while the boy look very healthy and well fed. One of the residents pointed this out and explained to me that unfortunately there are still some families who will feed there boys more than their girls because of the cultural gender bias.
3.) Learning more from the residents about common health practices in India. They had many questions about practices in the US as well, so it was fun to swap stories.
They also were all from different parts of the country, so they explained some of the variations in climate, food, etc. For instance, one of the girls stated that the food changes as you more further north within the country. The south, as she described, has blander food, while the north has the spiciest.
Alrighty, I’m signing off for now! I’m off to the pediatricians office in Pune again today. Hopefully It won’t be another “hottest day of my life” 😉
Also, just a little side note, thank you for all of the comments! It’s so great hearing from each of you.