Day 11 (Tuesday, May 13): Lost in Town

Woke up at 7:30am. Wanted to do something productive in the morning to make up for the laziness last night, but internet wasn’t working.

8:35am breakfast: mashed rice that looked and tasted like mashed potatoes, regular rice, omelet and tea. The food was good this morning. Complimented Paul on his health survey he sent out to everyone last night. He’s trying to pinpoint what caused people’s sickness yesterday. I ran into Raushan twice getting tea and returning our dishes. Me- “I keep running into you!” R-“it’s good huh?” I gave a small chuckle.

IMG_0609Went to a community health center (secondary care). Lindsey and Adam are both better today so that’s good.

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Here are my haphazardly taken notes:

-There are three levels of medical care here: primary (general), secondary (some specializations) and tertiary (hospital)

-Immunization program for children free of cost

-Infant mortality rate = 47

-When delivering at home, floors may be uneven and people sometimes use cow dung to even it out

-If you deliver at the hospital, you get baby goodies as an incentive

-below poverty line (BPL) is earning less than 70000 rupees a year

-Accredited social health activists (ASHAs) are social workers that act as liaisons between the health centers and villages. Typically, 1 per population of 1000.

-Cold chaining means maintaining temperature for transporting medicine. They use ice line refrigerators and freezers

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-Health centers utilize a lot of pictorial posters for education on topics such as: promoting small families, warning against smoking, anemia and no premarital sex.

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-The Angawadi center pick two girls from BPL and provide them benefits

-Legal age of marriage is 18

-Integrated Counseling and Testing Center (ICTC) links ART and health centers

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-Examples of personnel available: medical officer, dentist, ayurvedic doctor, staff nurse, pharmacist, gynecologist, pediatrician, consultant surgeon, lab technician.

-This center suffers from lack of physicians because it is located in a rural area. The quality of life is inevitably lower, so not many want to move and work here.

-The medical officers do autopsies

-Information Education Communication (IEC) program -> prevention better than cure

-Funded by state government

-Special programs: Mental health care and village nutrition camp once a month. Sexual health every Thursday 3-5pm.

-Major difference between primary and secondary centers: X-rays and other specialists at secondary level.

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-They have a poor patients fund where anyone can donate to help those that don’t have the means to pay for medical treatment

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Returned to university at 12pm. Waited at wifi tree to head to lunch with Lindsey at 1pm.

Sat at rock garden to check email, Facebook, renew library book and download Dr Raj’s power points. They took longer than usual to download and of course I left the most important thing to do last, so I didn’t finish before leaving for class. Learned about women’s health, which really piqued my interest.

– Sex determination is illegal (not allowed to abort the baby if they found out it will be a girl. Males preferred in society)

– Women suffer more from HIV & STI’s

– India vs. US: no malpractice insurance. Not many malpractice claims in India. Everyone wants to be a specialist. Everyone is an independent business, not under a system.

– Nursing homes exist where people often go to deliver babies, but they cannot handle complicated cases.

– South Asian women don’t easily come out about domestic violence.

Class ended around 3:15pm. On the ground floor, our group circled up to talk about going to Udupi. I split off with Adam, Kelsey and Lauren. They wanted to go to a store called Fab India. We looked it up online, and it was quite expensive. Pants are like $60 USD and saris for $500 USD. So we decided against it and joined everyone for Udupi. We agreed to meet Adam at the wifi tree once we got our purses and money from the hostel.

Met the rest of the crew in the lobby, and I stayed with them waiting for Alexa, but it turns out she already left. Walked to the rickshaw stand with everyone. We had an odd number of triplets to fit in the rickshaw, so Kelsey, Lauren, Adam and I had to go as doubles. Adam and I were rickshaw buddies. Vlogged during the ride and took selfies.

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Arrived in Udupi with Nikki, Ashley, Xhonela, Kelsey and Lauren. Adam paid him 90 rupees, and I paid Adam 40. We were lost at first. Nothing seemed familiar on the streets but fortunately, we wandered back to the bus port and our spatial memory started working. We stopped by shoe, clothes and jewelry stores. I bought a sleeveless Kurti at a place called Anand Silks. It’s olive green with intricate white flowers. Bought it for 310 rupees and had it tailored to my body too, so it was a fun time. I tried it on and asked everyone what they thought. Xhonela said I looked super oriental in it. Haha.

Lauren purchased a new 22 karat gold nose ring. The store was pure royalty. Multiple security men guarded the building. The first time we walked by the building, one guard even carried a long rifle. The place was air-conditioned and smelled very nice. A lady with a red and gold sari greeted us and asked what we were looking for. I told her “nose rings”. We were told to go up to the second floor. We climbed the stairs to meet another women dressed in the same red and gold sari who asked what kind of nose ring. Lauren said “gold”. We were taken to the room on the right and asked to sit down. They pulled about 10 different nose rings for Lauren to see. The first batch had diamonds, but Lauren wasn’t into shiny ones. She picked a pure gold ring that cost 1600 rupees ($27 USD). She needed help putting in the ring, and they said someone could help after she paid. I heard the term “Indian mother” used. We exited the building to walk to a sister store. It was a pretty modern building. The front desk lady was really nice and offered drinks to us: water, tea, coffee. She said it would take ten minutes for the person to come help Lauren put in her nose ring. Adam suggested we should get my tailored Kurti during the wait. He accompanied me to the store, which was surprisingly close by. We returned before the “Indian mother” came, but the person turned out to be a guy. The ring was a little wider than Lauren’s current one, so it hurt a bit. Tears were flowing from her eyes.

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We got lost again trying to find the restaurant, Gokula Krishna where we agreed to meet for dinner at 7:30pm. Adam and I led the way, and it was a rare display of my directional senses that normally are sub-par. We sat at a table for four that was isolated from the other 12 members of our group by a pillar because we were the last to arrive. Adam ordered a spinach curry that he didn’t end up liking. Kelsey got the Gobi Manchurian (cauliflower) and vegetable burnt garlic noodles. Lauren had tikka masala, garlic naan and rice. I ordered the Singapore noodles, which was good but more spicy than I thought.

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We went to the bakery and ice cream shop afterwards. Lauren got a lava cake. Kelsey and I got mango ice cream, and Adam got butterscotch ice cream. The ice cream had mango chunks, which made it so good! Lauren said “make a face to show how you feel about your ice cream!” and took a picture of Kelsey and I with our savoring faces.

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We caught two rickshaws back to the university. We saw Kelsey and Lauren on the other side of some steep ledges. I was in a skirt, so Adam helped me jump the ledges. I asked everyone what they were planning to do back in the dorms – shower, read, study, journal, watch movies.

Kelsey and Lauren used the wifi under the tree, but I left my phone in the room. We ended up sitting down and chilling by the tree for a good half hour talking about boyfriends, life stories, future careers, volunteering, hospitals, free clinics, research, gynecology, differences between Indian and American healthcare facilities. Deep conversations are one of the best things about life.

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