Day 17 (Monday, May 19): Songs that Bring Back Memories

Woke up around 7:30am because I thought we had class in the morning at 9am, but walked to breakfast to see that no one from OSU was there. Breakfast was pancakes with onions and tea. I sat by myself for a couple minutes until Kelsey F. walked in. She tried eating outside, but it was too humid. Shortly after, Adam and Drew walked in. Kelsey informed me that Dr. Raj cancelled class for this morning. I was surprised because I was mentally prepared for some early morning learning. Kelsey asked if I wanted to go to the Manipal Store. Dan and I went along. The store wasn’t open yet, so we found the little shop where Sesen purchased her bangles. Kelsey bought some.

We walked back to the hostel, and I decided to try the laundry service for the first time due to the large accumulation of clothes from the weekend Mysore trip. I brought my clothes down to the first floor in a white bag, and the woman gave me a slip to return back to the room later that day around 3:30pm. Then, I walked back to my room and did some journaling and blogging. I also checked in with my mom on Skype for almost an hour.

Anna knocked on my door around 12:30pm to walk to lunch, and we stopped by Lauren’s on the way to get her. There was some very tasty limeade at lunch today. I drank two cups.

As I was leaving with Kelsey R, Sahanna told me Sesen spent the time creeping on me this morning to find the picture with Justin Bieber, but didn’t see it (I shared that I took a picture with JB before he got wildly famous when his song “Baby” came on in the van). Sesen said my Facebook pictures don’t reflect who I am and that it doesn’t even look like me. This got me thinking about authenticity. In BLF, we have explored this term in regards to leadership, and I believe we should strive to be authentic in all parts of our lives (i.e. not putting on an act for show). I recently had a conversation about this topic with a friend, and he refuted saying that the personal and professional sphere should be distinguished (i.e. you should act differently at home vs. work). I definitely agree with this statement also. So the conclusion I have come to is that your morals and values should transcend any roles that you play in life. Those should always be consistent, which is an important part of being authentic and genuine. This is not the first time I have heard a similar statement said about me. Introspectively, I told them that it takes some time for me to be completely comfortable with new people. I am working on this, but it’s in my personality and nature. As for the not looking like me bit, I suspect it’s the make up. I used to wear a lot more in my middle and high school days, but I like to keep it simple now. I didn’t bring any to India and went au natural, which was extremely refreshing.

Before class, Lauren, Kelsey and I sat in the first floor coffee shop to update our journals and download the lectures. I caught up through the second day of Mysore from drafts saved on my phone. Akon’s “Right na na na” came on over the music system in the coffee shop and pleasantly caused a flashback to Chand’s jams in the van. I really like when songs remind you of a moment in your life, for better or worse – such a unique human feeling. The nerd in me just decided to look up why songs evoke vivid memories. Here’s the neuroscience/psychology behind it: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201312/why-do-the-songs-your-past-evoke-such-vivid-memories
So neat that this phenomenon can be used for therapeutic purposes! #sciencerules

Lecture with Dr. Raj at 2pm was about communicable and non-communicable diseases. Communicable diseases can be described as contagious (e.g. hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, influenza, malaria, polio, TB). The spread commonly occurs via airborne viruses, bacteria, blood or bodily fluids. Non-communicable diseases are not passed from person to person and are also known as chronic diseases (e.g. cardiovascular diseases – heart attacks and stroke, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases – chronic obstructed pulmonary disease and asthma, diabetes).

Here are some lecture highlights:

– India suffers from more communicable diseases than noncommunicable (opposite is true of the US and other developed countries).

– Eradication is better than elimination.

– The flu vaccine given each year is a prediction of upcoming strains, so it is not a guarantee that you’ll be protected. However, people have said their influenza is milder if they received the vaccination.

– TB is caused by a virus. It is a big problem for India.

– For coinfection of TB and HIV, the TB is treated first.

– In India, HIV/AIDS is commonly contracted by sharing needles or heterosexual intercourse.

– Why don’t drug companies invest in Neglected Tropical Diseases? Drug companies won’t make that much money because it only heavily impacts certain areas of the world.

– Mental disorders in developing countries are heavily stigmatized. There are hardly any counselors or psychiatrists available.

Lauren and I picked up our laundry after class. The service cost 150 rupees. Some of my clothes/bath towel was tinted blue (suspecting it was the dye from the Manipal shirt), but I didn’t care too much.

Tea time around 4:30pm: fried veggies and ketchup. Kelsey, Lauren and I decided to check out Bombay Bazaar and took a rickshaw there. We thought it was further down the road from the university, but it ended up to be within walking distance. The driver charged 25 rupees. The bazaar didn’t really have souvenirs, but rather household items, such as cooking equipment, brooms, shoes, clothes, containers and simple jewelry. Then, we explored many of the stores surrounding Manipal. Lauren bought a collection of journals at a Hallmark store. Then, we serendipitously discovered a small clothes store, which had a whole plastic bag filled with scarves. Kelsey and I bought the same patterned scarf for 100 rupees.

I felt an immense headache during the shopping trip, so I took an Advil when we returned to the hostel. For dinner, Kelsey and I decided to try the Chinese food on the second floor at Yodragon. I was craving some stir fried veggies, but couldn’t really comprehend the menu so I just ordered Hong Kong chicken and noodles. Kelsey ordered honey chicken and noodles. Mine was in a dark soupy sauce, which I’m not fond of, but the food generally tasted good. Several people bought soft-serve ice cream for dessert, which persuaded me to get chocolate and vanilla swirl in a cup.

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It cost 15 rupees, which is equivalent to 25 cents in USD. I apologize for the lack of pictures in this post. It was a chill first day back, so I only took one picture the whole day.

Kelsey and Lauren showed me a WiFi spot at the back of the cafeteria. We sat on some steps and chatted. It was nice, except for the nighttime bugs. We had a heart-to-heart conversation about our feelings of homesickness towards the beginning of the trip, the out-of-body realization that we were in India at that moment in time and how we should make the most out of our remaining days.

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Day 6 (Thursday, May 8): Inspired by Life

*I am so behind on blog posts, but I will try to catch up! It’s difficult living in the moment while also documenting the details…*

For the first time, I did not wake up with my alarm that was set for 7:15am. The snooze button called my name, and I ended up sleeping until 7:45am. I even felt like I could have slept a couple more hours. Must have been the exhaustion finally catching up with me. At 8:30am, around ten people were still at breakfast. I wasn’t feeling the breakfast which was pancakes (Indian-style), curry and tea. I got two toasts for Taniqua.

At 9:20ish, I walked to the Manipal library with Adam. We had to wait outside the room a little past 9:30am while more of our people trickled in. Dr. Raj’s lecture was about ethics and health systems. He talked about how schooling works here:

Grades 1-7: Elementary and Middle School
Grades 8-10: High School. Pick science or humanities track. Highly preferred track is engineering or medicine.
Grades 11-12: Pre-university
College: Professional school

Once you pick a track, you’re essentially stuck in it. Ex. no changing majors like in the US and no freedom to pursue a medical degree despite earning a BS in art.

Other quick facts:

1. In India, people visit the doctor only when they are sick. Once given the treatment and they feel better, they won’t return despite the doctor’s advice. This reminds me of my mom when we had no health insurance. She went to see an eye doctor because of a floaty and flash of light. They told her it’s a normal process of eye aging. The doctor told her to come back in 4 weeks to check-up on it. She never did because of cost, and the fact that there’s no treatment.

2. Raj was a part of the SAGE cognitive test project, which I happened to see on the OSU College of Medicine YouTube several months ago. Haha I guess it does pay off to watch every single video that they post. It’s a questionnaire to test if an individual’s cognition and memory is declining with old age. If the frequent testing shows a sharp decline in scores of the SAGE test, that is a harbinger of Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is of particular interest to me because of my grandmother and background in Neuroscience.

Dr. Raj wants to take us to the circus because someone from our group asked and also on a tour of the Manipal/Kasturba Medical College hospital. He said he did not want to go to the hospital (sounds like he adversely hates the hospital environment), but can arrange a visit for us. I am looking forward!

Went to the Manipal store after class and bought a blue Manipal U – inspired by life t-shirt for 450 rupees ($7.50). I chose it because of the displayed motto – inspired by life. About five other people were in the store also and a couple people bought sweatshirts for $22. They felt very soft and comfy but I wouldn’t wear it here so not a good investment. I tried to find postcards, but they didn’t have any. Dr. Raj informed me a couple days ago that Mysore would have some.

IMG_5299Lunch consisted of barley rice, sweet rice, beans, veggie curry (my fave) and another type of curry. Walked back to room around 1pm with Lindsey. I tried on the t-shirt, and it was a little too loose-fitting, but I guess that’s good for India. It’s also 100% cotton so it’ll shrink. I walked over to the library by myself. Walking alone can be so refreshing. I pay more attention to the environment and people and think about how blessed I am to be able to study in this country on the other side of the world.

All of our students were in the rock garden when I arrived, and Adam led the way to the classroom. Dr. Bhat talked about secularism and social change in India. Adam inquired about my blog, and I gave him the URL. Makes me happy when others are interested in reading. Writing is a passion of mine, and it’s exciting to share it with an audience other than myself. Dr. Bhat told the Manipal administration people to turn down the AC, so it felt comfortably warm in the classroom as opposed to an ice box. He’s so cute. He told the people he has class at 3:30pm so that they would turn it down right away.

IMG_0401Dr. Raj told us to meet him on the ground floor of the Manipal Library so that we can get our ID pictures taken to access the gym facility. Meanwhile, several of us were reading the bulletin boards. One was by a de-stress organization advertising their multitude of activities. The second one was a women empowerment board with international women leaders. The third one had posters and ads. Dr. Raj told us about the computer room on the first floor too. The ID place was across the street from the university near the market. It was a passport photo place.

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Tea time: coffee cake and bread with curried veggies inside. I enjoyed the bread. Went back to dorm to chill until dinner. Signed up for room cleaning with Lindsey. I was feeling really sleepy up until dinner. I saw Lindsey locking her door as I opened my door, so I told her to meet me downstairs.

Dinner: rice, potato curry and 2 other types of curry. I got a small portion, which was the perfect amount. Others got pizza, Chinese food and Subway from the second floor cafeteria. Went back to room to take a shower. During my shower, the cleaning lady came, and I felt bad but thankfully she returned around 9:30pm. It was weird sitting on my bed waiting for her to clean the room. Not used to having other people do things that I normally perform myself, but it does provide a piece of mind for me because I love cleanliness. She even wiped the table! Was not expecting that. She has to keep the door open and that made me paranoid because of the bugs at night especially in the rain. I’m gonna try to keep my room very clean. I skyped mom for about an hour. I was studying also so wasn’t too into conversation but it actually made my day a little better. Knowing someone cares about you. I think I had a slight bout of homesickness today. I felt kind of lonely, and it’s probably partly my own fault for not reaching out to others but it’s so hard to change natural tendencies. I should keep reading the book I brought with me on this trip, “Quiet. The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by: Susan Cain, to discover some truth in this personality type and how to be a better citizen of the world as a reserved person. Look out for a blog post about the book in the near future 🙂 The thunderstorm could be heard all night, and the power switched off twice for a couple minutes. I thought electricity would be out for the night, but it was okay after several minutes. I studied for the first quiz until 2am. I need to get to bed earlier.