Ok...well my last post was a little shorter than I had planned as things got so busy leading up to this impromptu jaunt to Varanasi. So... what's been happening over the past few days? Well for us the daily ashram life has been particularly busy... it seems to take longer than normal just to do simple daily tasks... such as the washing. Sam and I managed to dye a bunch of clothes pink yesterday after a new pair of red pants was mixed into the load... Ray now had a bunch of mottled pink t-shirts... koi bhat nahi (doesn't matter), I will take them to the dying wallah and have them fixed.
Last night was Kaye and Christa's last night at the ashram so we has a special pizza and pasta night with the colourful ashram lanterns decorating the area outside the guest houses. Making pasta and pizza takes longer than usual here as we have one stove we can use and we have to make the pasta fresh and last night the fire wood was damp and it took longer than usual to heat up mud pizza oven. With some foresight I bought a few packs of long-life parmesan cheese with me which was a good thing as parmesan is $45 per kilo here.
On a sadder note, Rikah (the woman I wrote about in one of my first posts) died on Sunday. Last week Sharlene went to visit her again and convinced her to get treatment in hospital. Shar said that even in the few days since we last saw her she had deteriorated and her hair had literally gone grey overnight.
The hospital called us on Sunday afternoon to inform us that she had died. That night after dinner Ray,Sam, Hunter and I along with one of the ashram staff went to her slum to inform her husband. He was not there so we spoke to some residents and asked then to get him to contact us. I have to say I was a little uncomfortable with the crowd we drew. Not long after we returned to the ashram the husband showed up looking a little forlorn, even so I struggled to feel sympathy for him remembering the bruises around Rikah's neck.
I was reading in a past newsletter that there seems to be on average of one death per week and I doubt it is much less than that now. One thing that I have been contemplating is... when do you let nature take its course and when do you intervene. For example if Kalu (the patient that died last week) was in Australia he would have been rushed to hospital and resuscitated....but not here. In India he was considered too far gone, and frankly if he had lived he would have had a very poor quality of life. I wonder... do we try too hard to save lives in Australia sometimes, striving to maintain life even if there will be no quality to it and perhaps no dignity either?