Day 28 (Friday, May 30): Presentation Day

Woke up around 8am. Slept really late last night, like past 3am. I didn’t run-through the presentation last night, instead I jotted down bullet points on homemade note cards. I skipped breakfast and had a Clif chocolate chip bar, so that I could finish preparing. I left around 9am and saw some of the guys going through the gate to the library.

It was our last day in the classroom, so I vlogged for memories. Everyone was receptive, but wish I could have been steadier with the camera. I’m still getting used to vlogging. The presentations were interesting due to the diversity. This is probably my favorite part of the entire course. Nikki presented about drug resistance and highlighted three diseases, one of which was Leishmaniasis. Adam looked my way, along with either Kelsey or Lauren, and we shared a smile. Dr. Raj gave us a 10-minute break in the middle. Lauren’s was probably my favorite presentation. Her topic was menstruation, and she made it incredibly fascinating and funny. Xhonela was before me, and I was getting nervous and shaky during her presentation, but I prayed that I’ll get through it with no nervousness. I started out feeling happy and jumped out of my seat when it was my turn. Dr. Raj walked to the front with me because Xhonela exited out of the presentation files. After thanking him, I started with an energetic “hello!” People laughed, which made me feel better. I vividly remember learning in BLF that a little bit of humor is a must in all presentations. “I will be uncovering the neglected tropical disease, Leishmaniasis.” “First, I will give a brief statistical background, so that we can better understand the global burden of the disease.” Taniqua was like, “I don’t know what all these things mean.” Leishmaniasis is a long and admittedly fun word to say, but the different sub-types add to the complexity, but hopefully the stats introduced everyone to the numerical burden. I talked about: types, signs and symptoms, co-infection, sandflies as vectors, risk factors (gave Sahanna a shoutout for her topic of malnutrition increasing susceptibility), diagnosis. I almost took too long to find the right words to talk about microscopy, PCR, and western blot as techniques that were not feasible in developing countries due to the lack of resources, but I maintained a smooth speech pattern despite going off script. That is something I am working on in public speaking – finding the right words and sounding fluent when impromptu speaking. Dr. Raj gave me the 2-minute warning. More topics: ASHAs, public health prevention, medications (gave Nikki a shoutout for her topic of drug resistance). I got really happy when I was pronouncing the difficult-to-say drug names and introduced Dr. Kishor Wasan, who’s working on an oral amphotericin B pill. I mentioned his collaborations because I wanted to emphasize that the animal studies were done at OSU. I followed up with “Go Bucks!” at the same time that Dr. Raj gave me a timeout “T” motion with his hands. I said, “I’m out of time, but I’ll make this quick.” People laughed. “I’m happy to announce that the drug received a US patent last November… and a vaccine is in the works.” Conclusion: “With all these advances, we might see a day where Leishmaniasis is dramatically diminished and the mortality and morbidity rates lowered in tropical regions.” I recommended three documentaries (Nepal, Ethiopia, Peru) from the WHO site called “Trilogy of Injustice” in case people are interested in learning more.

After class, I was talking to Adam and realized he was wearing gray and I was wearing red, so inspiration struck. “We need a scarlet and gray picture” and it took him a couple seconds too long to get it, but eventually said “oooh. Yeah!”

IMG_5704Then, we took an O-H-I-O picture with Sahanna and Drew, who were also wearing scarlet and gray. So cute!

OHIO Manipal LibraryThen, I took a picture of Drew and Adam twinning because they had on the same tie and a gray-colored dress shirt. I should caption it “the faces of Manipal University :P”

IMG_5708At lunch, Adam said he wants to give some of his toiletries to Fahad and invited me to go with. Drew, Adam, and I walked a couple blocks down the road and crossed the street to the MIT campus. Stopped by the Manipal sweater store, but they sold out. Fahad wasn’t there yet, so we decided to take a loop around the campus. Talked about the MCAT with Drew. I almost walked into a dog lying on the ground. Adam laughed. We arrived back to the entrance and still didn’t see Fahad, so we sat under the large yellow MIT sign.

IMG_1549After several minutes, we spotted Fahad. Adam gave him a dollar bill along with the toiletries. Fahad walked with us back to Manipal’s main campus.

Half of the group is leaving for home today. I hugged and said goodbye to everyone in front of the girl’s hostel. Bittersweet feeling.

IMG_1558I had my backpack with me and some people thought I was leaving. Sahanna joked that I wore my backpack because I wanted free hugs. Haha. Dr. Raj showed us that we have an article written about our study abroad program in the newspaper, The Hindu!

IMG_1561Tea time: bean cookies with ketchup. Those of us still here decided to take a trip to Udupi. I rode with Taniqua and Lauren in the rickshaw.

IMG_5713First, we went to the gold store where Lauren purchased her nose ring. Sesen bought a nose ring for her friend. A man showed me the way to the silver part of the store. Our mini group stayed together, which was nice. I bought a leaf-shaped earring and pearls for 440 rupees. Alvian bought earrings also. Next, we went to the temple circle and I bought more bangles and three elephants. Hopefully, I have enough to gift. On the way back to campus, the rickshaw driver tried to rip Taniqua and I off and charged 130 rupees instead of the typical 90 (we know from the many trips we have taken to Udupi). Taniqua and I were steadfast and bargained for 100. After mumbling words that we didn’t understand, he finally complied. Granted, those 40 rupees would not have been a big deal to lose (equivalent of 60 cents or so), but the thought of being tricked for our assumed naiveté is irksome.

Dinner: cauliflower dish (one of my favorites). I bought Lauren and I ice cream cones for a nice last dinner dessert. Walked back to hostel and washed clothes, uploaded pictures from Dr. Raj’s flash drive, brushed teeth, and showered. Sahanna hosted a henna party in her room with Rachel, Anna, Lauren, Sesen, Lindsey, and I. I sat with Sesen on the little bed and gave her the flash drive. The others were watching Friends. I vlogged Sahanna and her artwork and everyone in the room. Then, I did a selfie cameo and everyone laughed and said they saw that. My henna turned out faint, but Sahanna is so talented with the design.

IMG_1569I packed a little and slept around 1am.

Advertisements

Day 27 (Thursday, May 29): Farewell Dinner

Woke up around 7:30am. Wore my Fab India cream-colored with green vines kurti I purchased last night. I love the fit and neckline – wish I bought these clothes earlier in the trip, so that I could wear them more. I finished revising half of my paper based on Adam’s editing before breakfast. With his good critical comments, I improved my paper by further explaining some topics and deleting other parts where he thought it didn’t flow. Walked with Lauren to breakfast around 8:50am: two pancakes, omelet, curry, and tea. Walked back to room to finish the paper due at noon. I submitted at 11:58am.

Lunch at 12:30pm: roti, barley rice, biryani-like rice, bean curry, eggplant curry, and yellow curry. Everyone was already there when I arrived and most of the group left shortly after I sat down to go to the beach. I opted out because I still needed to finish the PowerPoint presentation for the final paper. Bought orange juice after lunch and returned to room. I submitted the presentation around 4:30pm and feel pretty confident about it. It looks presentable with plenty of pictures. Visited Lauren, but she was putting finishing touches and pictures in her presentation, so Kelsey and I waited.

Tea time: Indian pizza and cake – yummy.

IMG_1438Talked to Lindsey about her speech tonight and gave her words of encouragement. Lauren and Kelsey went to the Manipal store and Smiles store to buy cookies and journals, but I returned to my room. I didn’t really do anything productive. I feel so relieved to be done with work – just a presentation tomorrow morning left.

Farewell dinner at the Grand Valley Hotel at 6:45pm. I am excited! Stopped by Lauren’s room to hear her and Kelsey jamming to Taylor Swift. We wanted a picture in front of the Manipal sign in front of the library, so we took a few with Taniqua.

IMG_1440Everyone met in front of the cafeteria wearing Indian clothes. I talked with Xhonela and Lindsey on the way to the hotel. Dr. Raj left us mid-way to get flowers for the dinner. We gathered in front of the Marena and Lindsey asked someone to take a group picture for us. I handed him my camera. It turned out really nice.

IMG_1444After pictures galore, we walked to the hotel. Upon entering, a sweet aroma filled the air in the lobby and the cold burst of air-conditioning settled pleasantly on our skin. We were in a different room this evening than the one we had the welcoming reception in. We were welcomed with a ginger orange juice.

IMG_1456I sat next to Nikki and Kelsey F. At one point, Adam, Sahanna, and Drew were playing the “stare at someone” game and I was the first “victim”, but I noticed right away.

IMG_1454We listened to a lot of thank you speeches with flower-giving featuring Dr. Raj, Dr. Kamath, other women that accompanied us on field trips, the chancellor, and the study abroad coordinator.

IMG_1462Dr. Raj was so cute and gifted people with chocolate. Taniqua, Paul, and Lindsey gave small speeches about our collective experience in India. Then, we received wooden elephants as a parting gift. Eight or so girls performed several traditional dances for almost an hour.

IMG_1522We had tomato spice soup as an appetizer followed by a dinner buffet. The food was really good, and I was full after one plate.

IMG_1534Dr. Raj teased me for submitting my paper two minutes before the deadline at dinner. Haha. He was on the other side of the room, so I didn’t hear how the conversation started, but I heard my name and turned around. Dessert: vanilla ice cream, honey-like substance, and fruit.

IMG_1536I was getting ready to pull out my camera when Adam said, “we need a picture”. Me- “yeah! I’m glad I met my twin in India.”

Farewell DinnerBack at the room, I uploaded pictures to the computer, brushed my teeth, and Skyped mom. I heard more about the creepy waiter. Mom told me he was so happy to find me on Facebook (not accepting…).

Day 26 (Wednesday, May 28): Shopping Spree

Woke up around 8am. Walked to breakfast with Anna and Lauren: omelet, curried mashed potatoes with onions, and bread with peanut butter that Lauren brought from Ohio. Nice memories of home filled my taste buds. Adam sent me his essay around 2:30am last night, the time when I fell asleep. I told him I’m almost done and should be able to send my paper in a couple hours. Purchased orange juice after breakfast and went back to room.

I turned off the AC in my room and turned the fan on high to make the temperature more comfortable. I was in the zone with the paper and completed 75% of it by lunch. The process of editing Adam’s was helpful for me to gain a better grasp of how to structure the paper and the type of writing style to use.

Lunch: two rotis, barley rice, squash curry, paneer tofu-like balls in yellow sauce, and another yellow curry. Went back to room to work some more. I was surprisingly very productive. I sent Adam’s reviewed paper back to him. He thanked me and I told him my goal is to finish before tea time. That didn’t quite happen, but I read some interesting sources, one of which mentioned OSU. Apparently, we helped develop an oral pill that’s in clinical trial to treat Leishmaniasis. So cool! I can’t wait to share that with everyone.

Left for tea time around 4:35pm. Ran into Sahanna and Sesen as they were getting on the elevator. I met up with Lauren and Kelsey on the 5th floor and we updated each other about our papers. Kelsey is done and Lauren just got done, but hasn’t edited yet. The snack was bread garnished with curried spiced onions and other ingredients. I enjoyed it – tasted like roasted pork buns that are popular in Chinese cuisine. Adam said he should have read his own paper before he gave it to me because he’s embarrassed by all the grammatical errors. I told him that’s the fun part. We talked about going to Udupi later for a last shopping trip. I wanted to buy elephant figurines and check out the gold store and Fab India. Adam was excited to go to the gold store also. Bought vanilla and chocolate soft serve ice cream with Taniqua for 20 rupees. Yum. I could eat ice cream all day every day. I took a picture and Paul was making fun of me that I could easily get the same thing in the US, but I said it’s all about the context. Haha.

IMG_5699Almost everyone in our group planned to go to Udupi after tea. They all left the cafeteria, while Lauren, Kelsey, and I waited with Adam for his friend, Fahad. Sesen strolled in and said she just woke up from a nap. We talked about her online anatomy class, and I wanted to share the Michigan Medical School practical site that was helpful when I took anatomy. Adam ended up leaving the cafeteria to search for Fahad. Sesen isn’t going to Udupi because she still needs to work on her essay and the online anatomy class has started already.

Kelsey, Lauren, and I caught a rickshaw to Vedas. Lauren bought one kurti, while Kelsey and I sat on chairs and gave feedback. Then, we walked around the block to find the temple stores. We emerged in the circular plaza and saw some of our people. It was Anna, Sahanna, and a couple others. Then, we turn to our left and see Adam, Drew, and Fahad. I was so happy to see all of them. Adam asked if we’ve gone to the gold store yet. We hadn’t, but I still needed to buy elephant figurines, so Adam took me there first. I bought three elephants and one camel. We reached the gold store where Lauren purchased her nose ring, but they were closing up shop as we approached. Adam took us to Bhima instead, the one where Sesen bought her nose ring.

10440736_891230427570400_5659176578165896505_nThankfully, they were still open. The uniformed doorman held the large glass door open for us and we were greeted by a crowd of women. One nodded and said “Namaste”. I told her I am looking for earrings. She pointed the way for us to go upstairs. Another woman greeted us at the top and asked, “what are you looking for?” Me- “earrings.” She questioned, “silver?” Me- “yes.” The girls and I took a seat before a counter. The boys followed and Adam inquired about watches. The man said they did have some and the boys went to check them out. Kelsey and I were both looking for silver earrings. They brought out two cases of earrings with varying designs: apples, unique architectural patterns, hearts, bows, studs, flowers. I ended up buying an extremely shiny flower design for 410 rupees – such a good price. Kelsey picked a circular one. We were told to go back downstairs to pay. The boys came back and didn’t like the three watches they were shown. I asked how much it was. Adam said 10,000. I had about 5,000-6,000 rupees left at that point. We waited for a little bit, asked Adam to take a picture of Kelsey and I, signed contracts, paid, and received our earrings in a red box enveloped in a sparkly bag that was placed in their store bag.

IMG_5700Then, we were ready to catch a rickshaw to Fab India. Adam told us girls to get in one along the street that we were walking on, but Fahad informed us that they are not allowed to pick anyone up mid-street and that you need to go to a stand. We walked a little further up and encountered the stand. The street was very busy for crossing, so I passively waited as Fahad and Adam watched the traffic. Fahad helped us tell the rickshaw driver that we wanted to go to KFC, which was easier to say than Fab India.

The boys got there a little before us. They went to a store called Fasttrack first. Adam purchased a wallet and watch. The way the store workers intently watch you in department stores makes me feel self-conscious. I am learning to adapt, but it’s still a weird feeling. I went through all the small-sized shirts and found six articles of clothing that I wanted to try on. I fell in love with a white and green kurti. It’s pretty sheer, but I brought a tank top that I could wear with it. I decided I’m going to wear it tomorrow for the farewell dinner! The other one I decided to buy was the red chili pepper design shirt that I tried on the first time I went to Fab India. I’m going to wear this one for the plane ride. So comfy! The boys came in and I sought out their help with guy clothes. They are obsessed with Fab India and have bought 5+ articles of clothing from there. They found me a blue long-sleeve button-up. I liked it and ended up buying it for Arif, who’s birthday is coming up. Adam persuaded Fahad to buy something, despite him saying this store wasn’t his style. It was a shirt that Adam had bought. Kelsey bought a 1700 rupee blue sheer shirt, which looked amazing on her. Lauren bought a kurti. I had a conversation with one of the workers or manager. Him- “do you like your internship?” Me- “we’re studying abroad here. We’re leaving on Saturday and have been here for a month already.” Kelsey and Lauren were looking at their beauty products and teas. Thank goodness because I ended up buying jasmine tea and vanilla mango tea. I love tea and can’t wait to try it. In total, my purchase cost around 2,400 rupees. Adam said he needs to leave some clothes here because he can’t fit everything in his luggage.

IMG_1431We decided to walk back to Manipal instead of catching a rickshaw. It was about a 15-minute walk. We ate dinner in the cafeteria. Adam- “how do you feel about making a dent in your wallet?” Me- “I feel happy because I needed to spend it the rupees somehow.” He said he’s glad he was part of the experience. Xhonela talked about how her paper is too long and Adam mentioned I am having that problem too, but he added he’s gonna help me out. On the walk back to our hostels, we were talking about collecting bags from stores. Adam likes to do that with diverse places he’s been. Often times, he would buy something small just to get the bag. I said to him, “why are we the same person?” because I collect bags too. I’ve kind of stopped, but I still have the tendency. He thinks he influenced his sister because she collects Hollister bags. I did that too and still have like 50 at home. Drew mentioned he used to have a stack of shoe boxes. Adam- “glad to know we’re all hoarders.” Haha! I shared I use my shoe boxes for storage. Adam- “I collect past school papers.” Me- “Oh my gosh. I do too. I have some from Kindergarten.” Adam- “I keep all the birthday cards and notes that I’ve gotten” because he feels bad about throwing them away. Me- “I have a box with all of that stuff and it’s nice to look back on it years later.” I guess we are both very sentimental people. Then, the guys and girls were parting ways as the girls’ hostel neared. A car was coming, so I was still walking with Adam and Drew. Adam jokingly said, “Ellen’s coming to the guys’ hostel tonight”. Me- “there’s a car, I can’t cross”. Hahah I’m going to miss nights like these back in the states – worry-free adventures and soul friends.

Back at the hostel, I put away my purchases, washed clothes, showered, and finished editing my paper. I finally sent the paper to Adam and he analyzed it really critically.

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.

IMG_5583

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.

Day 15 (Saturday, May 17): Adventures in Mysore + Life Musing

Woke up around 6:45am. Walked down to breakfast around 7:10am. Adam, Drew and Paul were the only ones there when Lindsey and I arrived. I hugged Adam because it’s his birthday! The dining area was immaculate and mostly white in color. Breakfast was buffet style and featured American food! There were an assortment of around 15 dishes, bread, an omelet station, pastries, fruit juice, cereal, milk, coffee and tea. I was craving cereal from yesterday’s noodle dessert that tasted like Frosted Flakes, so I had that along with potatoes, pancake, turkey sausage and a cup of tea.

IMG_0899First stop: Traveled to the top of a mountain to visit the Sri Chamundeshwari Hindu temple.

IMG_0924

IMG_0925

Our driver asked if we were all Christian. He told us he’s Muslim. I greeted him with “assalamualaikum” (May peace be upon you) and he responded “Wa ‘Alaikum Assalaam” (May peace be upon you too).

IMG_0911

When we approached the golden temple, little brown blobs were moving around and they turned out to be dozens of monkeys.

IMG_0913

Second stop: Christian church. We explored the congregation area and the basement.

IMG_0934

IMG_1316Third stop: Silk scarf store. I believe the scarves were around 1000 rupees. I didn’t buy any, but quite a few people did.

IMG_0939

While driving, saw an area where a plethora of white sheets were hanging. I don’t remember who told us this, but this is their method to wash and dry hospital sheets.

IMG_0942

Fourth stop: Women’s Health Research Institute.

IMG_0944IMG_0946

After a brief introduction by three ladies, we received a tour of the facility. Most of us quickly realized that mostly women worked here, so someone asked if any men do. They said “yes”. The three guys work as the driver and food coordinators.

We met an intern from the US that’s studying TB at the institute. There is a $500 administration fee to ensure the interns are serious and not just here for vacation. We toured the kitchen for the interns. Before leaving, a group of us talked to the US intern. He’s from California and took a year off after graduating from UC Berkeley with a public health major. He will be attending Yale Medical School in the Fall. He was here for 6 months. Fun fact: he learned to drive a vespa here.

Interns in lab study various topics such as:
– Malaria and helminthes infections in pregnant women
– Joint Indo-US study of lactobacillus and its phages in bacterial vaginosis
– UTI
– Vit D deficiency in women with BV
– Dengue virus IgG ELISA

Research:

Lab
– Molecular epidemiology of bacterial vaginosis. Amsel’s criteria for diagnosing bacterial vaginosis (must meet 3 of 4):

1. Thin homogenous vaginal discharge.
2. Vaginal pH higher than 4.5.
3. Postive whiff test for amine with KOH prep.
4. Clue cells on saline wet prep

Lactobacillus research funded by NHI. Lactobacillus in vagina and urine testing. Post-test counseling and post-natal care (PNC).

IMG_0958

– Evaluation of rapid diagnostic tests
– Antibiotic resistance
– Community acquired resistant UTI
– STI

Community
– Maternal child health projects
– Women’s reproductive health
– Cancer prevention
– Immunization and children health camp

Clinic
– Longitudinal cohort studies on bacterial vaginosis, reproductive tract infections, cervical cancer screening, STI/HIV prevention.
– Obtain HIV blood from mother. Identify positive or negative. Counseling available.

How they build more awareness about their services to the community:
Collect list of pregnant woman from Anganwadi teacher. Go door-to-door (service at their doorstep). This makes it easier to motivate people to come to the mobile clinic in the subsequent days.

2nd day- Education for general public. Awareness program for blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, HIV. Pregnant women. Immunizations. Birth. Flip chart pictures and power points. Family planning.

3rd– Medical camp. Self-help group. Bring women to clinic. HIV stigma very high. ASHA linked to village. Mobile clinic. Given a place to set up like a school. General check-up. Consent. Antenatal exam. Blood draw, serum separation, blood grouping.

– They do not provide treatment, but focus on education, research, detection and counseling.

– The institute is linked to the government.

– Post-natal care follow-ups last up to one year.

– Serve rural areas. Have capacity to serve 144 villages, but currently it’s 82 villages.

– HIV in pregnant woman is decreasing.

– Highest cancer rate in India is cervical.

PAP smear requires a lot of trained workers and is typically administered by private doctors. The rural population needs sustainable tests -> VIA (Mysore is pioneering this) – visual inspection. Treated by cryotherapy and LEEP.

I asked the question “for young girls, is it common to provide preventative vaccinations for cervical cancer like Gardasil?” They talked about how expensive it is – $6000-7000, which is a challenge. Currently, it is not on the required immunization chart. Targets ages 9-30 years old. Research is currently working on a cost-effective approach to preventing cervical cancer. This is also a public policy issue. They need large interest groups to support the vaccinations.

Parliamentary is mostly men. Advocating for women is a constant struggle.

Saving Children Improving Lives (SCIL) is a successful strategy for increasing uptake of HIV/PMTCT services among rural pregnant women. Provision of conditional cash transfers to women’s microeconomic self-help group members to refer pregnant women for antenatal care and HIV testing.

Prerana women’s health initiative. Objectives: provide sexual and reproductive healthcare; physical, mental and family health; conduct research to provide evidence-based care and treatment.

Project Chaitanya: increase awareness and education around the prevention of cervical cancer.

Primary prevention: 1) Creating a peer educator model in rural villages by giving training and awareness about HPV, cervical cancer and vaccination.
2) HPV- Vaccine acceptability study by parents

Secondary prevention: collaboration with prevention international: No cervical cancer (PINCC) from the US –increase screening capacity of developing countries to screen women for precancerous lesions using simple methods

Train health providers in performing simple procedure like cryotherapy and LEEP on detection of precancerous condition.

Current cervical cancer screening program is on Friday (special clinic day only for VIA screening). IMG_0970The ladies were so hospitable in that they provided us delicious snacks during their presentation: samosa, chex-mix like dish, pretzel-shaped dessert and mango juice (I apologize for not knowing some of the technical names for the food).

IMG_0988

IMG_0990

IMG_0991

Fifth stop: Mysore palace tour. A headphone-guided version was available, but we just did a walk-through. We followed masses of people in the maze-like tour through rooms filled with replicas, paintings, photographs, memorabilia, trinkets and statues. Cameras were not allowed inside. Not sure how exactly long it took, but I would guess around 30 minutes.

IMG_0998

IMG_1326

10355517_10202921340168001_5106513551418294689_o

Sixth stop: Café Aramane for lunch. Our group opted to sit in the air-conditioned room because the restaurant environment was smoky and humid. I sat with Nikki and Xhonela, and we shared two platters (one North Indian and the other South Indian).

IMG_1008

Seventh stop: A quaint art gallery with a lot of ancient paintings. Dr. Raj informed us that a lot of the paintings correlate with stories in the Hindu religion. A couple of us observed that exposed breasts were a theme in many of the artworks, and I think Taniqua bravely asked Dr. Raj what that was all about. He informed us that sari’s back then did not include a blouse because blouses are a western invention.

Eighth stop: Pantaloon store at the mall. The department store was so large that we didn’t have time to peruse the other stores in the mall. I was looking for some Indian-styled shirts/blouses, but didn’t come across any that was a good fit. I found a light blue and white patterned scarf for 249 rupees though!

IMG_5533

Headed back to hotel for an hour. Lindsey and I decided to chill in the lobby and asked for the hotel’s wifi password. My phone was extremely slow, so I eventually gave up on accessing the internet.

Ninth stop: Returned to the Mysore Palace to watch the light show. There was a story line behind the light show, but we could only guess what was happening because we didn’t know the local language, Kannada. A few minutes before the show ended, it started raining. Fortunately, as we were walking back to the entrance, we had the opportunity to see the palace all lit up in golden lights. Such a majestic sight.

IMG_5542

We walked about 10 minutes back to the hotel, which was quite an adventure. Imagine a group of 20 students crossing a wide and busy Indian-style intersection at night. Not to worry – we all survived! Haha. I got an adrenaline rush from the experience.

We had some time to kill before dinner, so several of us played “Would you Rather?” in the lobby using a question bank from the internet. The one question that struck a cord with me was “would you rather have a bell ring every time you are aroused? or feel a sharp pain in your side whenever someone says your name?” I was surprised that everyone agreed on the sharp pain, but I would choose otherwise (I didn’t get to voice my thoughts at the time). I’m going on a tangent/a little TMI, but life’s too short to live dishonestly with oneself or to be afraid to tell someone how you feel. I read this relevant quote a couple weeks ago:

IMG_5926I think this message can go beyond a romantic context (I know. I know. The question above used the word “aroused” but forget about that for a second). You can let your family and friends know that you love and care about them. We often take for granted the people we see frequently, so it’s never foolish to remind them of their value in your life. In the case of romantic relationships, if the love isn’t reciprocated, at least you tried and won’t have any regrets. Living with honesty and openness and welcoming candid conversations is extremely liberating. This is what it feels like to be human. I am working on this myself. #gettingoffthesoapbox

Multi-cuisine dinner buffet. We all sang for Adam’s birthday.

IMG_1022

For dessert, I was tempted to try some fruit because I was missing it in my diet, so I ate five small pieces of the assorted pineapple, watermelon and papaya. Ice cream is my weakness, so of course I had some for dessert also. The flavors were vanilla, mango and chocolate. I even went up for seconds.

IMG_1023

The concierge encouraged us to go to the discotech club right outside the hotel.

IMG_1335

As a collective group, we decided to check it out. We only had to walk one minute to see a couple men dressed in black shirts stamping people’s hands with the words “the room” in purple ink. We walked down the stairs to approach a coconut door.

IMG_5554

On the other side of the door was a neon green lit up path that led to the dance floor equipped with a disco ball and everything.

IMG_5552

There were “no smoking” signs plastered on the walls, which was nice. Techno music permeated the room. We stood relishing the sights and sounds for about ten minutes. We went back to our rooms in the hotel. Coincidentally, our room was one of the closest to the club, so Lindsey and I could hear the pulsating beats of the music well into the night, but it didn’t bother me. I showered, packed and went to bed. Stomach wasn’t feeling too well during the night. Suspected it was the fruit. I’m not sure if I mentioned why we shouldn’t eat raw vegetables and fruits here, but it’s because of the water and the different bacteria in it that our stomach might not be used to if we didn’t grow up in the country.