Wow! What a weekend! I’m going to try to let you in on all the adventures, but unfortunately I’m not the best story teller and an amateur blogger. I’m afraid I won’t give it justice. I’ll try my best though! 🙂
Before the weekend started I had probably the best day so far at the hospital. I’m getting settled into the operating room and the staff, especially the housekeeper Ranuk, is helping me with my Hindi and Marathi. In the afternoon Dr. Katalawe asked me to help in one of the c-sections. It was about halfway into the procedure when I remember how messy c-sections can get… and we only had our “surgery sandals” on our feet! I got a little nervous at this point and backed my feet out a ways and brought the suction wand in a little closer. Thankfully the procedure went well, the baby was a healthy girl, the mom was well, and our feet stayed dry 🙂 As we were finishing up the procedure Dr. Katalawe asked many questions about gender discrimination in the US. He said that unfortunately in India it is still very present and in fact because if this it is illegal to find out the gender of the baby by ultrasound before its birth.
We also chatted about the differences between American weddings and Indian weddings. I told him that I’d never seen an Indian wedding before. He must have been amused by my not so subtle excitement when he told me that he would inform me if one of the staff members is getting married in the next few weeks because he smiled and laughed as he said he would let me come along.
After work I took a 6 hour bus ride up to Aurangabad. After trying to catch a few hours of sleep I took yet another bus (3 hours) up to the Ajunta caves. On the way up to the caves we were finally out of the city and in the country. It was beautiful, but hot and dry, and the smell of diesel never seemed to fade away (especially when while riding on the public buses).
On this ride I got to see my first wild camel and a “pick up” game of cricket. All of this was great to experience, but We also past through some extremely poor areas which made my heart sink and brought to life, even more so then the events this past week, the incredible challenges faced by the people here. I was reminded again of what I came here to learn about.
When the bus finally reached Ajunta it wasn’t even noon, but I already felt the intense heat and sun. On the way up to see the caves (I’ll explain them in a minute) I met a girl, Swatid, just a few years younger than me who was visiting her family in Ajunta on her break from school in Mumbai. She invited me to tour the caves with her and I gratefully accepted. Her family didn’t speak English, but it was so nice to spend the day with them and try to learn some Marati.
The Ajunta caves were definitely worth the crazy journey. There are about 30 caves carved into the side of a massive cliff. They were all built by Buddhist monks from the 2nd century BC to the 6th century AD. There are intricate sculptures and paintings in each cave telling stories from Buddha’s life. On the outside it looks a little like Mesa Verde, but the caves are so extravagant on the inside!!
After cave day I toured around Aurangabad. The Rickshaw driver took me through the town and to the Bibi-ka-Maqbara, also known as the mini Taj Mahal. I unfortunately won’t be able to make it up to Delhi to see the actual Taj Mahal, so I was happy to get to see its “little me”.
I definitely wouldn’t consider it little, though. The Muslim prince Azam Shah built it in honor of his mother and replicated it from the Taj. I fortunately got there early in the morning, so I was able to walk around when it was quiet. It seemed so peaceful, especially after being in the city and on the road. It was a great way to spend a Sunday morning.
Anyways, that was pretty much the end of my weekend shinanagins. I returned to Pune after another 6 hour bus ride and crashed yet again. I have some great memories from these past few days, but also a heavier heart after experiencing more of the harsh realities of India.