Thursday, September 17, 2009

So it seems Johnny's emergency toe amputation was not enough... he is off to hospital this week to have half his foot removed. Hopefully this time he will be given anesthetic! I am a bit nervous for him going to the village hospital, he is likely to lose more than half his foot. The funny thing is he seems so unperturbed by the whole thing. I don't think I would be so relaxed about a second amputation after his experience let alone a first one.

So let me think, what else have we been up to. Well I have a story to tell that I am not too proud of. It all started when a bad smell started in the kitchen and was getting worse and worse. We could not work out where it was coming from. The garbage had all been taken out and there was no rotting fruit in the fruit bowl and no food scraps hidden anywhere obvious. Then suddenly it hit me. I remembered that the pipe that drains the sink does not lead to anywhere... it just dangles into the cupboard below and the water spills onto the floor and runs into a floor waste with a grill on it. So you can imagine my fear as I opened the cupboard to see what horrendous festering mess I was going to find. Well, it was far worse than you could have imagined... it looked like sludgy vomit with mould growing in places... oh the smell. There was no way I was going to be able to clean that up without adding to it and I doubted I could pay the kids enough. So, when the floor cleaning lady arrived the next morning I asked in my very poor hindi if she or someone she new would come and clean it up for 100 rupees (perspective ... she is at my place for 20 minute or so 6 days a week and gets paid 450 rupees a month. So I offered 100 for an awful 5 minute job) she took one look at it and said 200 rupees and I did not hesitate to agree.

My only dilemma now is how do I stop it from happening again..

On Tuesday afternoon the ashram celebrated its 10th anniversary by having a fun afternoon of games followed by a special meal. It was an amazing time starting with a quiz and some team building exercises such as a group of people passing a person along over their heads.... I have some great photos which I will upload (one day).

For the kids there was egg and spoon races... or I should say egg and lime races as well as wheelchair races.

One of the highlights was an Indian game which was like a cross between rugby and dodgeball but without a ball. Great fun and a laugh to watch. Apparently it is a televised sport here in India.

For dinner that night we had a special meal that included hot chips and papadams along with a lamb curry and palak was so good.

The Delaney's joined us for the afternoon which was nice for the boys so they could join in the fun. I spoke about the Delaney's in one of my blog postings from our last trip. They live in a slum in East Delhi. They all eat, sleep and live in one small room with no plumbing. Their room is on the third floor so they have to collect their water and carry it up to bathe, and go down stairs to the neighbors for the toilet. They do an amazing job working as advocates for the people of their colony making sure they get access to the services they are entitled to such as ration cards, widows pensions and hospital care. Many people would miss out on these rights simply because they are intimidated or are dismissed by those in charge.

It is amazing the medical cases that get looked over here. Just today Sarin one of the ashram staff was outside a public hospital and a man was lying in the street with all sorts of injuries and sickness. Sarin picked him up in the ashram ambulance to bring him to the ashram for initial review and care but he died in the ambulance on the way... can you imagine if people where left to die outside Australian hospitals.

On a lighter note Sam had baseball training tonight so on our way to training we stopped by Connaught Place to post the kids homeschool work back to Australia. This would have to be one of my least favorite jobs... the post office is chaos and each week they make up new rules. This week after waiting in the queue (read fighting for our place in the crush around the counter) they wanted a photocopy of our passport... there was no way we were going to head out of there to find somewhere to get a photo copy and fight our way back to the counter again. Thankfully Ray was there this time and he made them take the parcels without the photocopy. After the post office saga the kids and I were waiting around for Ray to get off the phone (as usual - nothing has changed) before we hoped in a rickshaw to the embassy for baseball training. While we were waiting Sam and I were getting a bit peckish so we thought we would try some street food. We started with some potato cooked over hot coals which were then peeled and diced and flavoured with spices and lemon juice.... sooo good and only cost 25c. Next we tried this other weird concoction which tasted like rice bubbles mixed with beans, lentils, spicy sauce of some sort and a bunch of other unrecognisable stuff... once again delicious... So we had a bargain afternoon tea/meal for 60 cents. Ask me if I still think it was delicious tomorrow!

Ok... its getting late now... will save some news for next time. oh, and don't forget Hunter has a blog as well... There is a link to the right


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Can you believe it's September!

I can't believe its September already. That means I have been back in India for 2 months. I think I am starting to notice I am missing a few things. I woke up this morning thinking about sushi. Other things I am missing is wearing jeans (it's still too hot), risotto and good cheeses and of course family and friends. I also really miss shopping and just hanging out with friends.

The door bell just rang... it was the girl who comes in to sweep and wash the floors everyday. She brought another girl with her and asked if I had a job for her... so with her limited English and my limited Hindi I now have someone who will come and wash the dishes each day for just over $7 per month. I know it sounds like I am exploiting her but that is what she asked for and I know it is more than the going rate.

I have not spent a lot of time at the ashram lately as I have been so busy with work and also because I took a long weekend and went to Rajasthan :) I went to the ashram on Tuesday after some torrential rain and the whole place was partially underwater. I had arranged to meet some women from the American Women's Association there who are going to dye some of our hand-spun yarn so that we can crochet it into bags and other items to sell... I just have to learn to crochet now so that I can teach the patients!

I spent the rest of the day sorting through bags of donated clothes from the American Embassy Thrift Shop. They often send us bags of useful stuff and are in the process of increasing their support for us... I need to prepare a list of medical items for them to ask for at their next 'cocktails for a cause' fundraiser.

There are a few new patients at the ashram since my last visit. One I will tell you about via an excerpt from my friend Sharlene's blog...

It turned out to be the most stressful day, everyone at the hospital much except for me is wearing a mask because of the swine flu epidemic and there is a whole swine flu department. After hours and hours of torture I go outside only to find a destitute woman, sitting totally naked outside the hospital. Hundreds of people are walking past but no one is doing anything. I approach the lady, manage to find out that she is 35 years old. Her husband left her and his her sister inlaw brought her to delhi and left her behind with no money. She told us that she was in an accident and injured her foot but the hospital would not help her. She had been sitting there for a week with no clothes and no food. I start talking with the patient and crowds of people surround her. It’s amazing how many people come to watch when a white person is helping. We find the patient some clothes and tell her to wait and we will take her to the ashram.

Suddenly patients are everywhere begging us to take them. They’re showing me their wounds, missing limbs and following us around. I then see another guy again dumped outside the hospital. He’s completely covered in faeces and flies and has a large wound on his forehead. We decide to take him as well...

We put her in the ambulance and she is so grateful and happy to come.

The other guy fights with us saying he is happy how he is and we leave him at the hospital.

The drive back is horrendous and then right in front of me is a massive motorbike accident. One guy slides right across the road and the other guy is thrown off his bike. I make the most of having an ambulance and put the siren on. We stop and help and thankfully everyone is ok so they go on a rick shaw to the hospital instead.

Finally we get home.

I shower the lady who I find to be completely covered in lice and maggots, we shave her head, dress her wound and put her to bed for the night.

what a day!!!

This lady’s foot was completely destroyed. It had almost all been completely eaten and there was very little tissue left. The smell was horrendous and hundreds of maggots came out. In fact when we lifted her out of the car the whole back seat was crawling with maggots…. Unbelievable!!!

How could a woman be left like this outside a hospital???

Someone told me that a week ago she was seen sitting in the same spot with no clothes on. Can you imagine how many people walked past and did nothing. Not even a blanket was given to her. Her body is covered in bedsores from lying on the concrete.

Because of all this that lady went today to get her leg amputated. She hasn’t stopped crying since she arrived. so broken and so sad. I think the pain of what she has endured not just physically is just pouring out.

It is devastating to see someone like this in such desperation.

Parveen has settled in and is chatting easily to everyone. She asks everyone for their rings or watches or just for money. I hope to spend some time with her next time I am at the ashram.

There is quite a bit of sickness amongst the long-term patients at the moment. Armachand one of my favorites (can I have favorites?) is in hospital with septicemia. He is lucky to be alive but is not through the worst of it yet. He has lived at the ashram for 7 years and has a real talent for jewelry making. Hunter loves practicing Hindi with him and Sam flying kites with him. They make a good team with Armachand holding the string while Sam thrusts the kite up into the air.

Another of the staff at the ashram is really sick at the moment. Deepak was one of the patients but he is one of the key staff at the ashram now. He has HIV, diabetes and heart disease. The other week he thought his heart was playing up but it turns out he has TB!!! He must have caught it from one of the patients at the ashram... we try our best to separate the infections patients but it seems we are not doing a good enough job. Deepak would be more vulnerable to catching TB and the disease manifesting due to his HIV status and compromised immune system. For people like me I would have been exposed but it will not manifest unless I became really run down.

We are starting to get the feel for our neighborhood. The kids and I walked to the shops yesterday to buy our groceries; we were stared down by a cow on the way home... I thought he was going to charge at my red shopping bag... I won't take that one with me again.

We often buy fresh juice or vegetables from the juice and vegetable wallahs that walk past our house calling out.

I have discovered where the ironing wallahs have their stand. They iron with old fashioned coal irons at a rate of 5 cents per item... imagine getting a business shirt ironed for 5 cents in Australia. An iron here costs $7 I could get 140 shirts ironed for that!.

Now I just need to find a massage lady... there is one in most neighborhoods and they cost about $3.50 for about 45 mins. Apparently I just need to ask someone in my neighborhood who has a baby to point them out as new mothers get massages.

The weather seems to have cooled a bit... I gauge this by how cold the water is in the shower. It's nearly time to turn the hot water on.

Okies...sorry to end so abruptly... must get to work now

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