Tuesday, July 19, 2011

New [Delhi]

This past weekend Katy and I again got away to New Delhi. We had a great, and somewhat relaxing weekend and got to meet up with some of Katy's friends from MSU. They were all super sweet and took great care of us. One of the weirder things that happened was when I was telling them that I went to ASU. One of them said "Oh I have a friend that went to ASU." Now, I've heard this line before. ASU is the largest university (depending on the year) in the States, so it's pretty useless to ask for names. Plus, he was talking about one of his friends in India, a country with over a billion people. But then he goes, his name is Sharan Vallaru." I almost died. For those of you that don't know, Sharan is one of like the 4 Indian people that I know. So, halfway around the world, in the second most populated country, I realized what a small world it really is sometimes. I'm still in shock that we knew the same person.

When we got back on Sunday, we were supposed to leave the Gill's house to go to our new host family. We got back too late Sunday night though, and Katy and I still had to pack, so we instead decided to leave in the morning. I was a little bit glad, because that gave me at least a little more time to see/say goodbye to the boys. And when we got home, Ely and Simon were already asleep. So Mowgli and I went in and sat on the bed with Ely and just hung out. Sharlini came in and sat with us for a minute; she also picked Ely up and put him in my lap while he was sleeping. We tried to wake him up to say hi, but that kid doesn't wake up for anything. William was literally hitting him, and Sharlini had sat him straight up, and he still kept right on sleeping. He eventually did wake up just a little bit, enough to know that I was home and he was laying on my lap, and he managed to give a small little smile. It was so good to just sit there with the family and talk for a minute, with Ely in my lap and Mowgli making me laugh. I was trying to soak up everything I could while I was still there. Saying goodnight to them was tough, since I knew that I wouldn't get to do that again.

In the morning, I woke up early so I could see the boys before they went to school, because we would be gone before they got home. Again, Sharlini got Ely and put him in my lap as he was waking up so I just got to hug him for a minute. And he is such a little sook, especially in the mornings. When they finally got up, the boys got letters that they had written for me. Actually, Mowgli had given me his the night before, but not Ely or Simon. All the letters pretty much said the same thing-I think Velma had written most of them for the boys. But the boys had written my name on them and drew pictures, and then they wrapped them up in envelopes/wrapping paper and tied them with ribbons so they looked like little presents. My favorite was Simon's. He had been playing the "I'm too cool" card for a couple of days, which, because of all his swagger, he obviously pulls off very well. So when he came up to give me his letter, he was kind of sheepish about it. He had also put my and his name in a little heart. I don't think he really knows what that means, other than "I.P.R.U."

Saying goodbye was so hard, even though it had been dragged out for a couple of days, including being away in Delhi. Still hard though, maybe because it almost seemed normal and non-eventful. I just watched them walk down the street, off to school. Ely was turned around and waving the whole way. I tried to get a cute/artistic picture of it, but my photography skills don't really do justice to most of what I've seen.

So then I just went back upstairs and had to finish packing, which sucks almost as much. Our tuk-tuk got there about an hour early, and was dropping off some new volunteers, so we had to hurry it up a little bit. Saying goodbye to Sharlini, Velma, and Gil was also hard, especially when Katy then started crying too. We were kind of a mess. Indians don't show much emotion, so they just kept saying "No it's okay, don't cry."

So now we're at our new placement. The house is a little nicer. After 6 weeks though, we aren't too picky so its not too big of a deal. We have a "cooler" at night, which is kind of like a window unit A/C, but not as strong. No complaints though, I got a very good night of sleep last night.

This family is the one who is supposed to host the medical volunteers. One of the girls here has been here (in India) almost as long as Katy and I, and has been doing the medical volunteering the whole time. So we're a little annoyed and confused as to why it took us 6 weeks to finally get to do anything medical. But other than the frustration of it all, we have no complaints about working in the slum school.

So the first night (last night), we went to the Ultrasound clinic to observe. It was all mostly standard stuff. However, for pregnant women, the doctors aren't allowed to reveal the gender of the baby-it's against the law. This is because too many people would get abortions on girl babies. Such a sad reality. We also saw a 15 year old girl who was pregnant. She came in with her mother and grandmother. When the ultrasound image came on the screen, the grandmother just squatted down on the floor and was wailing and crying. Then she started begging the doctor about something. She was literally at the doctor's feet, pleading with her. We imagine it had to do with help as to what to do, or about getting an abortion or something. Then the grandmother, mother, and doctor all proceed to scold the girl. And slap her in the face. It was all in Hindi, so we don't completely know what they said, but we did hear the words "jail" and "future." The doctor started to tell us the story; I think the girl had been living with a relative away from home when she got into this situation. The 15 year old didn't say anything and was just kind of staring, mostly downward. I would love to know more about the situation. Like how this will affect her and her family, what their standing in society/the caste system has to do with any of it, and about a dozen other questions. Unfortunately, the stream of patients was absolutely non-stop, so we never got a chance to ask the doctor more information.

Today we went out with the "Ambulance" service. It is a medical unit that goes around to different sites in the villages or nearby temples to offer medical care to elderly patients. We got to play pharmacist, and helped to divvy up drugs into packs of 7 for a weekly supply. We also learned how to take blood pressure and got to do that on the patients. We were there for most of the day, and it was one of our more productive feeling days. We'll be doing that again tomorrow, and then hopefully going to the hospital for Thursday and Friday.

Katy and I are planning to end our volunteering a week early because we realized that there is still a lot more we want to see. So we'll be going back to Delhi for the weekend, and then flying around the country from there. Right now, we are planning for Mumbai, Goa, and Hyderabad. We might go up North near the Himalays and see Leh if we have time also. We'll see--in India its kind of useless to make plans too far in advance.

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