Thursday, July 2, 2009

Second Impressions

The title of my very first blog was first impressions, so I thought it appropriate to call this one second impressions.

So, Hunter and I arrived in India on the 1st of July after a good flight and a fun stopover in Singapore. There was a bit of violent turbulence as we crossed the Bay of Bengal, which was not fun, but all in all a good flight. Hunter and I really pushed our baggage limits and even with an extra ten kilos each we were way over, but thankfully the woman who checked us in let it slide. Though having all this extra weight was a bit of a challenge for me... I had a great time trying to lug 30kg + off the baggage carousel.

As soon as we stepped off the plane we felt the heat and inhaled the familiar smell of India (not a bad smell). After going through customs, a health check, baggage claim and a random luggage scan we entered the arrivals hall and were so excited to finally see Ray, Sam and one of the boys from the ashram. It was so great to see them again!

After an unusually long drive back to the ashram Hunter and I gratefully climbed into bed under our mosquito nets and with our ceiling fan on cyclonic speed.

First thing the following morning I went for a wander around the ashram... A lot has changed but it is still so familiar and feels as though I never left. It was great to see the staff and patients again and be welcomed so warmly. The kids were very excited to see Hunter again.

Our first meal was a very normal toasted omelet sandwich, a nice way to ease back into Indian cuisine.

I spent most of the first day setting up our rooms... Needless to say Ray and Sam's room looked like a bomb site... but its all sorted now :) Its not entirely their fault as they drag there mattresses out to the temple to sleep each night as it is cooler with the breeze.

It seems that Hunter and I arrived at the right time... The rains have come and the temperature is a very comfortable 33ish degrees... though it is a bit sticky now with the humidity. I am amazed at how well Ray and Sam have coped over the past few weeks....even the Indians have been telling me how hot this summer has been. One of the woman from kids house was saying that in 2002 it was unbearably hot... but this summer was hotter!

There is the breakfast bell... I wonder what we are having today... be right back!

I am back... breakfast was some kind of pea (similar to a chickpea) soupy thing with chapati and chai. I am really enjoying the ashram food. Yesterday for lunch we had a delicious lentil curry with rice and for dinner last night a chickpea and potato curry. Hunter is enjoying the food as well.

Yesterday afternoon I went with Sharlene, Sharin and Prakash to visit a woman named Rikah who lives in a kind of slum. She is very sick with TB and is regularly abused by her 'husband'. She lives in one room and sleeps on a mat on the floor. Her body is emaciated and I would estimate that she would not weigh much more than 40kgs. She had bruising on her neck and chest where her husband has tried to strangle her. The ashram has arranged a place for her in a women's hospital where she can be treated properly for her TB and gain some much needed weight. But she does not want to go as she knows her husband will find someone else and she feels she will have no one. She is about 24 years old and has 2 children that live with her parents; her family will have nothing to do with her. She recently lost her last pregnancy, not surprising considering her health. It is a wonder that she is unable to even conceive. It is a frustrating situation... how can we just forget her now. She will die, if not from the TB at the hands of her husband.

Welcome to the real world...

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