Day 13 (Thursday, May 15): Mother’s Bounty

Woke up at 7:30am. Packed for the Mysore weekend trip. 8:40am breakfast: pancake, omelet, tomato curry, tea. Looked over public health book. Took the quiz at 9am. It went alright. A lot of people thought it was harder than the first one. Got the 1st quiz back and got 18.5/20 points.

Went back to hostel to get backpack. Waited in the lobby because Dr. Raj was getting the boys from their hostel. Meanwhile, we discovered a small ice cream and snack shop on the ground floor of our hostel. In a single file line, all of us signed out in the security guard’s book – and so the adventure begins.

The vehicle options were a Toyota Sienna minivan or a larger traveling van. Lindsey and I had our eyes on the minivan. Xhonela, Taniqua, Adam, Alvian and our driver Chand were the other occupants in the minivan. Chand played some good throw back jams: Edward Maya, Akcent, Three 6 Mafia (lolli lolli), Rihanna (Umbrella), Wyclef Jean (Sweetest Girl), MIMS (This is Why I’m Hot) and techno dance music. I was enjoying the car ride way too much because of the music haha. Everyone was sleeping at one point, but I didn’t feel tired. I took in all the sights and sounds.

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The driving is so scary. There are numerous signs that forewarn an accident zone with a picture of a skull and “x” – wanted to get a picture of this, but never did 😦 Weaving in and out of traffic was the normality.

We stopped at a restaurant to eat lunch. The waiting time was quite long, but Nikki, Xhonela, Sesen and I passed the time well by talking. We all ordered some really good mango juice called Mazza; it’s healthy and not artificial too.

IMG_0722For food, I ordered the chicken biriyani. I asked the waiter how big the half-size and full-size meals are, and the waiter sized me up and said the half-size is appropriate for me. Haha. The biriyani was okay because it was a little spicy. At lunch, Dr. Raj told me he found my blog through OSU’s public health twitter. He said I wrote too much about him. Haha.

Got back in the car for more driving. Mysore is about 6 hours away from Manipal.

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The ride was crazy as usual. This time, I actually cringed and held on to Adam multiple times. I couldn’t help but think of head-on collisions as we were regularly faced with oncoming traffic.

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Our driver is extremely skilled though. The music was still bumpin: Flo Rida (Low), Akon (Beautiful, Dangerous), Avril Lavigne (Complicated, Girlfriend). Adam mentioned how it’s crazy that we still remember the lyrics of songs that we haven’t heard in awhile. Who else has thought about this? I wish studying worked that way… Driving on the mountain was breathtaking, but nerve-wracking at the same time. A lot of sharp turns and winding roads.

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We lodged in a place called “Mother’s Bounty” on top of a mountain in Madikeri.

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Our minivan arrived late because we took a couple wrong turns. The girl’s living arrangements were: a 2-person room, a 4-person room or an 8-person room with four beds. I stayed in the larger room.

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Before dinner, we took a trip to see the sunset on the mountains. Sesen joined us this time in the minivan because she felt her seat in the traveling fan was precariously uncomfortable. She said she had no one in front of her and no seatbelt, so she has to brace every time the driver brakes. The view was breathtakingly beautiful. There was an official overhang with silver railings ideal for a group picture, but our large group never got a chance to occupy that space because of other visitors so we took a group picture overlooking the mountains at another spot instead.

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Lauren, Kelsey and I decided to hike over to a cliff overhang that looked like it was just floating in the abyss.

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We watched the sunset there, which was absolutely stunning. As a collective group, we took lots of O-H-I-O, jumping, yoga, individual and group pictures.

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This is the most scenic part of the trip so far. We walked back and took a group pic with Dr. Raj in it. Upon arriving, he showed Alvian his Buckeye hat he brought in his backpack, so I asked him where it was before taking this group picture and he put it on. Haha.

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We had to wait about 1.5 hours until dinner so some people played cards or showered. I watched Pitch Perfect with Taniqua. Dinner was served downstairs in a dimly lit dining hall. When I came down, everyone was freaking about a tarantula-sized spider. I tried to take a picture, but it didn’t come out very well – maybe for the better because I don’t want to remember that large creature.

IMG_5492Dinner was okay:rice, rice noodles, stir-fry noodles and an assortment of curry. A lot of the dishes were spicy, so it didn’t sit well with my taste palate.

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The noodles in sweet milk dessert, however, was delicious. It tasted like frosted flakes to me. Made me miss eating cereal every morning for breakfast.

After dinner, they had a bonfire for us. I didn’t feel like going because it was out in the woods at night, where bugs are rampant (I am an attraction for mosquitos), but it ended up to be a good bonding time. At first, we were all mingling, but then someone suggested we play telephone. Sesen came up with the phrase “epidemiological studies depend on monkey species” or something along those lines. At the end, the phrase changed a little bit, but the topic was still correct. Then, someone suggested playing two truths, one lie. Kelsey, Lauren and I simultaneously expressed our dislike for the game, but reluctantly participated. It wasn’t as bad as I thought and I actually enjoyed playing this time. Dr. Raj opted out, but agreed to come up with his own the following day once he has thought more about it. Here was mine: 1) I’ve never donated my hair. 2) I jump rope on a regular basis. 3) I didn’t know English entering Kindergarten. Some people guessed #2, but consensus was #1. Taniqua asked when, and I said last year some time, but it was actually two years ago. Time flies! The bonfire didn’t last too long.

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Experienced a bucket shower because the facility didn’t have a shower faucet. Woohoo adding that to the India Bucket List that I will post on this blog. Haha did you notice the play on words? To my surprise, the bucket shower felt refreshing. Nikki asked how tall I am and I told her the story of how I always thought I was 5 feet tall, but went to the doctors one day and they broke the news to me that I was only 4 feet 11 inches and three quarters – but hey we can round up right? Lindsey found a couple bugs on our bed that had projection-like legs that moved itself. She killed them, but it was freaky. Surprisingly, I wasn’t too phased about it when I was sleeping. There was no AC, just a fan. I was the last one to finish showering and head to bed. Everyone wrapped themselves in their sheets like a cocoon, but I was too hot, so I was just a taco. Hahah what nice analogies. I wore long sleeves and long pants to protect myself from potential bugs. Slept well I guess (except for the nose congestion that a lot of other people felt too) because I didn’t wake up until the morning – must have been the road trip exhaustion.

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Day 7 (Friday, May 9): Play it Hard

Woke up in the middle of the night freezing so I flipped off the universal switch in the room. Woke up in the morning with a warm room. I got up at 7:15am and stayed in room until 8:45am to do some last minute studying for the first quiz. While I was brushing my teeth, the water trickled and slowly stopped altogether. I looked around the bathroom and used the bidet to wipe the toothpaste off my face. When the water turned back on in the afternoon, the color was brown for a couple minutes. This made me think about the availability of clean water (or lack of) in the world and how we are so fortunate to not have to worry about access or sanitation in the US compared to other countries. Sometimes I take hour-long showers because it feels nice, but with this new perspective I will think twice about it. I may be naive about this topic, but I wonder why other countries cannot gain permanent access to clean water. Financial reasons? I looked to the trusty Wikipedia for some answers. Here is an excerpt about India:

India’s growing population is putting a strain on the country’s water resources. The country is classified as “water stressed” and a water availability of 1,000-1,700 m3/person/year.[3] According to UNICEF, in 2008 88% of the population had access and was using improved drinking water sources.[4] “Improved drinking water source” is an ambiguous term, ranging in meaning from fully treated and 24 hour availability to merely being piped through a city a sporadically available.[5] This is in part due to large inefficiencies in the water infrastructure in which up to 40% of water leaks out.[5]

In the same 2008 UNICEF report, only 31% of the population had access and used improved sanitation facilities.[4] Open sewers are common place in urban areas.[5] A little more than half of the 16 million residents of New Delhi, the capital city, have access to this service.[5] Every day, 950 million gallons of sewage flows from New Delhi into the Yamuna River with any significant forms of treatment.[5] This river bubbles with methane and was found to have a fecal coliform count 100,000 time the safe limit for bathing.[5]

Due to surface water contamination due to lack of sewage treatment and industrial discharge, groundwater is becoming increasingly dependent on and exploited in many regions of India.[6] This process is being expedited by heavily subsidized energy costs for agriculture practices;[6] which make up roughly 80% of India’s water resource demand.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_issues_in_developing_countries

Breakfast: round bread-like ball, omelet, veggie curry and tea. I went to the Manipal Library rock garden to take the online book quizzes in preparation for the quiz. I completed three online quizzes and did not get to two. The real quiz was good. I’m thinking I may have missed one multiple choice question, but let’s hope for the best. Then, Raj lectured on two topics: cultural & environmental effects on health.

Lunch: barley rice, veggies with curry flavor, vegetable curry, paneer (cheese) curry and coconut milk jelly dessert. Some people bought ice cream for only 50 rupees. I need to get some one day. A group of us went to the store. I got another 4-pack of toilet paper ($2.50), tide bar ($0.17) and a light green blanket with a stitched flower design ($3.40). This is weird, but buying items here is a liberating feeling… succumbing to that consumerism, which is good and bad. Good – because the goods in India are cheaper compared to the US. Bad – because I don’t want to buy items I don’t need. I’m usually conscious about spending money. I’m still not completely used to the exchange rate here. When I’m using a 1000 or 500 valued bill, I perceive that as a lot because my mind is still in US mode. The blanket will come in handy because I brought a small and thin blanket for the trip that doesn’t provide enough warmth and also does not cover my feet so I am excited to sleep comfortably tonight.

Went to Manipal Library around 1:30pm. Today was Dr. Bhat’s last lecture with us on Indian society and culture. He traveled all the way here from Hyderabad to provide these lectures for us and is going home tomorrow. I feel so bad because I experienced the post-lunch dip during his lectures several times. It was not my intention to fall asleep :/ We took a group pic with Dr. Bhat in the classroom.

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ImageAs a group, we walked to the Marena, the “RPAC” of Manipal University. It’s a beautiful facility with great views of a green and luscious valley. Their slogan is “play it hard” compared to the RPAC’s “life in motion”. The front desk guy told us about the amenities and policies:

  • Non-markable soles are required for most of the sports offered.
  • One has to bring their own equipment for sports.
  • Patrons have to bring new shoes with them to workout; no outside shoe can be used inside.
  • Some amenities include: sauna, pool, badminton, simulator games, basketball, volleyball, ping-pong, indoor track, weights, cricket and tennis.
  • They close during class hours (1-4pm) to encourage students to go to class.

ImageThe Marena is on a hill so the floors go down into the ground (-1,-2,-3,-4,-5). It was funny seeing negative signs in the elevator. I tried to take a picture, but they did not like photography in the building. They took us on a tour of the facility, and we had to take off our shoes. I like that they keep it clean. I learned that cameras are not allowed when I was vlogging on the track. I would totally workout there if they didn’t have such stringent policies. I don’t have another clean pair of shoes, but it was nice to see the facility.

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We walked back in time for tea. Something that tasted like fried tofu balls were served. I ate one and gave the other to Lindsey because I don’t enjoy fried foods. Went back to hostel and washed all my dirty clothes with the new Tide bar. I have decided to try hand-washing clothes again and I liked it this time maybe because I knew it would be more clean with the Tide as opposed to another bar soap. I also recorded a five-minute video of myself washing a shirt. I am thinking about speeding it up for the real vlog to give people an idea on how to hand-wash clothes. I didn’t know how before coming here, but I figured out a method and wanted to share because it’s a good thing to know in life I guess?