Five severely sarcastic, somewhat peculiar people travel across the globe and immerse themselves in a strange land with strange languages, customs, and religions. Hilarity ensues. Here is a sample of some of my favorite moments/quotes/things from the past 2 weeks in Hyderabad:
-“We ride together, we die together.” -Ania in response to the discussion about whether or not to eat street food
“Yo momma is so dumb she couldn’t find a Chutneys in Hyderabad.” (There are 6 in the city, we dined at 3)
-later, a discussion between James and Gopal about the best way to appear as though they are being eaten by the monster-wall
-And the result:
-Gopal trying adamantly to reach the top of the tombs, despite the entrance being strongly guarded (and making some Indian friends along the way)
-“I’m crushing beers with the program director.” -Ania
(the result of the above question)
-the emphasis placed on the last word of the sentence, which makes it sound like a question (though it is not):
– this pan tastes like? …axe
-that man is peeing in the? …street
-“That palace is big pimpin” -Ania
-watching Lauren at each meal as inevitably only 90% of the food actually makes it into her mouth
– the looks on the people’s faces when they gaze into our van and then exclaim to their friend, “look man, there are white people in that car!” (or so we like to imagine that’s what they’re saying)
-James: ” this is really popular with my friend circle.”
-Ania: “you have a friend named Circle?!”
-the looks on our faces as the Haleem man asks Lauren, do you want an extra dirty spoon to eat that strange mixture that my feet were just sitting next to? (and even more so after she said yes)
On a more serious note, I would like to say that this global health experience has been memorable in so many ways. Over the past 2 weeks we have been submerged in all that is India. We have sampled an array of South Indian cuisine (to the detriment of some in our group), engaged in religious celebrations (to the detriment of the chickens), adopted some of the customs (if you haven’t seen a white person try the head waggle, you must!), and observed a depth and breadth of the Indian healthcare system I didn’t think was possible in such a short amount of time.
We have seen patient care delivered well despite limited resources (a la NIMS), witnessed the challenges healthcare workers face in the current system (two or three physicians see ~200 HIV patients/day at a government ART center we visited), and observed how progress and success in settings like this can be born through the hard work and dedication of a few individuals (as Ravi and his wife inspired us, see James’ post below).
I will forever be indebted to our gracious, generous hosts at the various sites we visited who gave freely of their time and resources to create a worthwhile experience for us. I am also thankful for my travel mates, who provided humor to counteract the absurd and who became friends along the way. Though my global health career is young and the exact form it will take in the future is yet to be determined, this immersion experience has further solidified my desire to work to provide culturally appropriate, quality health care in resource limited settings and has added to the foundation on which I can build my career.