Saturday, December 11, 2010

Day 5 - Mysore

Our fourth and final day at the clinic again went smoothly. The trainees are doing well. We were able to do one more LEEP procedure, but that was only two for the whole four days. I was much busier cycling the instruments through the sterilization process because we saw 73 patients, quite a few more than on other days. This increase was in part due to several women still in their 20's coming in. Our target group is women older than 30, since the cancer takes years to develop and the signs rarely show up in young women. At any rate, I felt better utilized and that was a good feeling. Dr. Rhoda volunteered that the instrument cycling went well throughout the camp days. The only real hang up was having only two biopsy tools. We seem to have done an especially large number of biopsies. At the end of the day we met with the doctors and director of PHRII to discuss preparation for the next camp when Dr. Rhoda and John return summer 2011.

Sister/nurse Mary brought me a gift of a Gideon New Testament and a couple of booklets of guidance so I can spend at least a half hour each day improving my soul. As with Dr. Susshela, this is an example of how being in India can be a highly spiritual experience if you are open to it. I'm afraid I'm not, but I do respect the sincere beliefs of the devoted, especially if they motivate good works, as seems to be the case with these health care professionals.

I mentioned before how the washer woman kept trying to communicate with me. As I realize now, she was actually begging, asking me for money to feed herself and family. Funny, but it did not at the time occur to me that that was what she was doing, unaccustomed as I am to having workers beg while on duty. I have her a kiss at the end of the day, but that's all she got from me.

In the evening we went to see the Mysore Palace lit up. It is lit for a half hour on Saturday nights, and one hour on Sunday nights. The grounds and gardens are extensive, circumscribed by a high wall. The open entrance changes from time to time, so we were left off by our motor rickshaw two kilometers from the gate open this night. The walk was good after sitting all day. It is impossible to describe what that Palace looks like with every architectural element picked out in lights. It's a bit Disney-like, but dazzling and impressive. This was the first time I'd seen westerners in several days; there were almost none in our neighborhood, and absolutely none at the hospital. I felt somehow different from the regular tourists, probably because I was having special experiences unavailable to the casual traveler. The maharajah build this palace about 100 years ago, using British contractors - you can see how colonialism benefited Great Britain in many ways. I hope Stephen and I will have time to visit the inside, a museum, during our one day in Mysore. There is also a famous shrine on a hilltop just outside town.

We ate dinner in a popular hotel restaurant called the Park Lane. The food was better than average and there was live Indian music. There was also a clean western toilet with toilet paper, quite an oddity and very much welcome.

I must say that I am already getting tired of eating Indian food all the time. It of course varies in quality. For example, I just couldn't eat the lunch at the hospital today. I ate the sweet, but not much else. Dinner was much better in quality, but a little good Thai or Chinese would be welcome. There are Chinese dishes on some of the menus, but I can't imagine they would match my requirements.

I am sorry to be leaving Mysore. It seems like a relatively livable place, without massive crowds or choking traffic. I'm likely also influenced by our embracing reception here and by the warm and lovely people we have met. Deborah

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