Day 29 (Saturday, May 31): Until Next Time, India + Budget + Bucketlist

Woke up around 8:30am. I felt like sleeping in, but Lauren and I planned to get breakfast at 9am. I wore my red with green vines Fab India shirt. We walked down with Taniqua. I vlogged Taniqua signing her name in the book for the last time and then Lauren getting food. Breakfast: one toast, two pancakes, omelet, and tea. Alvian was there too. Lauren walked with me to vlog the library. Taniqua asked us to buy Orbit gum for her with 50 rupees. We peeked into the library café and at first glance thought they didn’t sell gum, but it was on the counter. I can faintly picture seeing gum in my memory of ordering food at the café, so I felt bad that we didn’t take the chance of going in. Drew inspired me to purchase a maroon-colored Kasturba Medical College t-shirt at the Manipal campus store. I had around 1000 rupees left. We said goodbye to the library by taking individual pictures with the Manipal sign.

IMG_1589Back at the hostel, I gave Taniqua her 50 rupees back. It was around 10:30am when I returned to my room and hardcore packed. I thought I wouldn’t finish on time. I gave Taniqua some Ziploc bags when she came over around 11am. I checked my room several times, took out the trash, and finished packing all my bags around 11:45am. We were supposed to be ready at 12:05pm, so I was cutting it close. Taniqua and I visited the small snack shop on the ground floor of our hostel to use more rupees. Lindsey and Ashley were already in the lobby with their luggage. I purchased a Tropicana Orange Juice and Lipton Iced Green Tea with Lemon and Mint. I brought my luggage downstairs, turned in the room key, and rolled the suitcase to the bus.

Taniqua and I sat in the very back. The tiny air-conditioned vent above made the ride more bearable. I updated this journal and listened to music on my iPod. I relished the Indian scenery for the last time. I was pretty productive, but started to get a headache towards the end of the drive.

Arrived at the Mangalore airport and our flight itinerary were checked twice by army-like men standing at the doors. Alvian suspected he was discriminated against when the guy only told him, “no smoking inside.” We went through the baggage scan and check-in. In line, Sesen pointed out a half Indian and half Caucasian family. The little girl was beyond beautiful. We parted ways with Dr. Raj, Paul, Ashley, and Rachel because they were on a separate flight. I shook Dr. Raj’s hand and thanked him for everything. Sesen teased him about emailing us his whereabouts (he’s going to Poland for a conference) and he said no one reads his emails anyways. I hugged Rachel and Ashley and waved goodbye to Paul. We went through the carry-on scan and body check. Sahanna and Sesen needed to empty their bags because of metal. The bathroom at the terminal was surprisingly really nice and could have been mistaken for one in the US equipped with modern toilets, toilet paper, soap, and hand dryers. Only when Lauren and I returned and raved about it, did the others go too. We boarded and I sat in seat 11B, one row away from first class. One of my personal goals on this trip was to engage in conversation with a stranger on the airplane. It didn’t quite work out on the way here, so I was hoping I would have a chance on the flights back home. I believe we have so much to learn from one another by just talking, and the prospect of learning new things from another person’s perspective excites me. The first flight was unsuccessful. For food, we got an Indian-styled chicken and pepper wrap that was surprisingly very good, a mini water bottle, and tea. I love the plane’s tea. I wonder what kind it is. People told me it’s just black tea. I napped for 15-minutes towards the end of the flight.

We had a 9-hour layover in Mumbai. Hopefully the time passes by fast. We had the opportunity to see the airport from the outside, and it is gorgeous: peacock design, uniquely shaped trees, water fountains, Indian flags, and white designed ceilings.

IMG_1597IMG_1600We went to a restaurant called The Square for food. Sahanna and I shared a vegetarian platter and lava cake.

IMG_1607IMG_1609As we were leaving to go through customs and immigration, we ran into Anna, Lauren, and Taniqua as they entered the restaurant. The interior of the airport could have been mistaken for a mall!

IMG_1611I bought a green silk scarf that came with bangles for my mom and a small wooden elephant keychain at a store called The Lotus. They accepted US dollars, so I paid with 530 rupees and 5 dollars. I think I have an obsession with buying elephant figurines. Sahanna played the first X-Men movie on her laptop to pass the time at the gate. Anna, Lauren, and Taniqua eventually came to our terminal and hung out. Anna wanted to take a couple pictures and was sent on a mission to buy soft drinks for Sahanna and Lindsey. I went with her because I was in the mood to walk around. We checked out a tea shop. Anna bought me Slice mango juice because I spent all of my rupees.

IMG_1624Slice was sold at the Italian fast food restaurant on the 2nd floor Manipal cafeteria, but I never had a chance to buy it. I was excited to finally try it and it was good! Everyone was right in that it tasted better than the Mazza brand. Lauren and Anna split a chocolate brownie with their last rupees. Back at the gate, I transferred Dr. Raj’s pictures to Alvian’s flashdrive for him and organized my pictures on the computer. We hugged and said goodbye to Lauren and Taniqua as they headed to their Amsterdam flight. Then, we found out our gate changed. We walked further down and parted with Anna when the paths forked.

IMG_5724We boarded the flight and I couldn’t sit next to Sahanna and Lindsey because the flight was full. I sat in the middle section of the aircraft in the third seat of a four seated row. I tried watching X-Men: Origins, but I fell asleep. The guy to my right at one point was almost leaning on my shoulder while he was sleeping. Vegetarian lunch: Indian food, watermelon, cantaloupe, papaya, tea, bread roll, and water. The woman to my left started a conversation by letting me know something is leaking from my backpack (water). We talked for a good half hour about India, studying, Mysore, medical school, education, her visits to the US, her son in New Jersey, the difference between taking care of elders in India and the US. The flight landed and she patted me on the shoulder saying she’s not sure if we’ll see each other on the next flight. I told her to have fun in New Jersey and she wished me good luck in my career. Aw, so nice. I started watching a movie called Serendipity when she started the conversation with me. Fun fact: that’s my favorite word and the actress in the movie said it was hers too, so I was intrigued to watch the movie. It’s about a woman that believes in fate and plays with a man’s heart by saying that they’ll part ways and if fate brings them together, it’s meant to be.

Landed in Brussels and went through a bag and body check. The workers ordered Sesen to unwrap her hair and she was reluctant at first, but complied in the end. We went shopping for Belgian Chocolate, but the price was exorbitant. We bought food from a café.

Boarded next plane to Newark. I got an aisle seat – woohoo! I was in the middle section of the aircraft again in a four seated row. Two people are in my row, but no one sat immediately to my right. I finished the movie Serendipity, and watched Silver Linings Playbook and Love Actually. I let a guy in the left section borrow my pen to fill out customs forms. Snack: flakes made of peas. One meal: Indian-style wrap and chocolate ice cream bar.

IMG_5743I slept for brief periods. Listened to Bollywood songs and read the book, Quiet.

Landed in Newark. I kind of wish I had window seats for the transatlantic flights, but I guess that’s something to look forward to on my next international trip. Went through US customs and retrieved luggage from the belt. A police officer was walking around with a sniffing dog. I was so scared the dog would find my cashews and force me to throw them away, but everything went well. We re-checked the bags and took a shuttle bus to our terminal. Bought food at Starbucks: turkey and cheddar sandwich and strawberry and banana Naked juice. At the terminal, I talked with mom and Arif on the phone and updated journal. Sahanna’s extension cord started a conversation with a family of four. He asked us how India was. He said he’s really curious about the Pakistan dividing moment. We parted with Sesen because she’s headed to DC to surprise her mom. I told her I am so glad I met her on this trip.

Boarded plane. This plane was a little larger than the ones that typically fly into Columbus. It’s two seats on either side of the aisle, but normally it’s two on one side and one on the other. My seat was 11A and I asked the man in seat B, “can I get in there?” And he jokingly said “no.” That’s when I knew we’d have a good conversation. I let a couple minutes of silence pass, while I updated the journal on my iPhone. Then, I asked him “were you in Newark?” He said “yeah. You?” Me- “India.” He said “wow.” Told him I’m on this flight with three other students that studied abroad in India for one month. He asked how it’s different there. I said it was a humbling experience and reminds me to not take things for granted, like toilet paper. We talked about OSU, my future career plans, his home and family in Newark, job in Columbus, Chinese food, skiing, and his summer plans. He was very talkative, which was nice because I can cross off conversing with a stranger off my traveling bucket list. We talked the entire flight. I periodically would look out the window and he would bring me back to conversation. He flies back and forth between Newark and Columbus every two weeks or so and mentioned he needs to plan out his flights like two weeks in advance to avoid high prices. I asked him what city he preferred. He said Columbus, mainly because of the traffic. He said it takes him 15 minutes to drive to work whereas in New Jersey, it takes a little more than an hour and you need to use public transportation. I said “yeah that’s added stress to the day.” He said although Ohio has no mountains or bodies of water, it’s a nice break. He said “for example, at home, I need to mow the lawn, weed, install various things, and do housework. But in Columbus, I can eat dinner, drink a glass of wine, watch TV, and relax.” Haha. I asked if it’s difficult traveling back and forth. He didn’t really complain and enjoys the change in scenery. We talked about his daughter, who is a senior in high school and he expressed his concern about her choosing a college. I offered to help if she is interested in Ohio State. I gave him my BLF business card (haha quite possibly the first time I have ever legitimately gave one out) and he gave me his. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end this once-in-a-lifetime trip. So surreal and so blessed.

IMG_5746 IMG_5751Money Spent
Program Fee         $1,800
Air Ticket               $1,400
Personal                   $400
Total cost               $3,600
Wolfe Scholarship $2,500
Personal left             $100
Out-of-Pocket        $1,000

Bucketlist for India

  1. Ride a rickshaw & capture it on video
  2. Ride a camel
  3. Ride an elephant
  4. Ride the citibus
  5. Buy kurtis/saris/salwaar kamis
  6. Go to the beach
  7. Experience a “discotech”
  8. Make a local friend
  9. Go to a temple, perferably on a mountain
  10. Keep a blog and/or diary
  11. Try vlogging!
  12. Watch a Bollywood movie
  13. Eat on a banana leaf
  14. Drink tea
  15. O-H-I-O pic anywhere and everywhere
  16. Selfies anywhere and everywhere
  17. Try all food
  18. Watch a religious ceremony
  19. Handwash clothes
  20. Take lots of pictures and videos
  21. Go to the circus
  22. Purchase a Manipal t-shirt
  23. Explore the Manipal Anatomy & Physiology Museum
  24. Cross a busy street as a large group
  25. Try some Indian pastries at a bakery
  26. Take a picture with a monkey
  27. Eat/drink something mango flavored (be careful of raw fruit)
  28. Take a bucket shower
  29. Listen to Bollywood songs
  30. Wander and maybe get a little lost around a familiar place in a large group

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.

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 23 (Sunday, May 25): Leishmaniasis

Woke up around 8am. Stopped by Lauren’s room to see if she wanted to go to breakfast. She just woke up, but didn’t feel like going, so I went by myself. Ran into Dan, Alvian, and Drew in the cafeteria. Researched for the final paper in room until lunch time. Finally pinpointed my topic, Leishmaniasis (neglected tropical disease) and learned how to pronounce it. I looked at many articles and started Google Docs for the paper and PowerPoint. I wrote the title and abstract and sent the information to Dr. Raj. Had a slight headache afterwards.

Stopped by Taniqua’s room to see if she was going to lunch soon. She still needed to change and brush her teeth, so I waited for her. I was feeling quite hungry, so it was a good meal: roti, barley rice, lentil and potato curry, chickpeas, tapioca curry, and yogurt. Bought my go-to drink, pulpy orange juice. It makes me think that I am eating fruit, even though it contains artificial substances.

IMG_5684Retrieved laptop from dorm and headed to the library with Taniqua. We checked our bags with the attendant and went into the group study room to meet Lauren. I updated my journal for the entire time.

IMG_5686Then, we moved over to the café, where Taniqua bought iced coffee and a chocolate cake. I wanted something, but felt bad eating unhealthy food, so I resisted. I wrote in my journal some more and vlogged in the coffee shop featuring Taniqua, Rachel, and Alexa.

Tea time 4:30pm: pastry with curried veggies inside and a chocolate ball flaked with coconut.

IMG_5688Afterwards, went back to hostel with Taniqua. I am reading (or skimming) a 200-paged WHO report on Leishmaniasis – ¼ of the way done! It’s like everything I want to talk about in my paper….. A housekeeping staff knocked on my door. They come so consistently lately even without signing up for a room cleaning appointment. I am grateful and wondering if they get paid by how many rooms they complete. Dr. Raj sent an email with all the titles of our final projects. The topics are really diverse, except for children and nutrition (3 people are doing something along those lines). Then, he gave me a shout-out in the email for questioning about the quiz 3 topics and revised what he said to us previously. That made me smile. I’m such a dork.

Dinner: curried potato dish. I’ve been really craving the food here lately – like I always feel hungry before the meals. I told Paul I like his Indian long-sleeved shirt. Paul was talking about how he doesn’t like tomatoes. Adam wants to eat more tomatoes because they’re a good health food, but he doesn’t like onions. I questioned out loud that I don’t know what food I don’t like. Lauren mentioned fried foods and I said oh yeah. Adam said sweets. I said nooo I like it, especially ice cream – that’s my weakness. I mean I enjoy eating ice cream for breakfast… Then, Adam asked if we heard about the shooting in Santa Barbara, California. He told us the details about how the 20-year-old kid went on a rampage and killed about seven sorority girls because he was bitter that no girl has liked him before and that he’s never kissed a girl. He saw it on the Google news page and I said that’s where I saw it too! Then, I shared I always mentally prepare myself in case there is a potential shooting in lecture halls. Adam and Lauren said they do too. Adam said he always plans what he’s going to do. He thinks he’ll just lay on the ground. Lauren said she would run. I thought that would be a bad idea because they’ll want to shoot you first. Paul said it depends on where you are in the room. I said I would pretend to be dead. Then, Adam said he thinks about what it would be like to be a professor, what if a student that hated you wanted to shoot you? And I’m like I think about that too!! Like what if a student wants revenge… #dinnerconversations. Kelsey R wasn’t feeling well and has been in her room all day, throwing up from time to time. Lauren was going to get her food, but she said she probably won’t keep it down.

Went to the library café with Lauren to study for the quiz. We got Aasam tea and chocolate/mango cups.

IMG_5689I got the mango and it tasted like mousse – so good! The chocolate tasted a little different. We studied individually for the first part because I was writing stuff down. Then, we went through the last three PowerPoint presentations together on my laptop. My eyelids were getting heavy by the end. We left around 10:30pm. Back at the room, I washed clothes, showered, and Skyped mom. Then, studied for quiz until 2am. I was reviewing all the online quizzes and kept drifting off, but proud to say I made it through all of them.

Day 21 (Friday, May 23): “It’s Not How Much We Give But How Much Love We Put into Giving” -Mother Teresa

Woke up around 7:45am. Wore the green white-flowered sleeveless Kurti. Breakfast around 8:35am: round bread, veggie curry, omelet, and tea. Received some compliments on my Kurti. Rachel was interested in getting her pants fitted after someone mentioned that the store where I purchased the Kurti provides free tailoring.

We took traveling vans to Manasa Jyothi. Our Mysore minivan crew got excited to see Chand again, but sadly he wasn’t driving. Adam was my seat buddy! He complimented that my Kurti makes me look more oriental. I was like “I know.” I’ll embrace my Asianness. Haha. Dr. Raj rode in our van also. It was a 45-minute drive. Adam and I talked about dreams, X-Men, and my lizard story. Manasa Jyothi has been my favorite field trip so far. The woman from the Netherlands has really done something spectacular, and she’s only 37 years old. Truly inspiring. I hope to pursue a passion like that.

IMG_5619As we passed through the white stone-walled threshold of Manasa Jyothi, I felt an indescribable feeling of happiness and comfort. A trampoline and playground emerged with numerous joyous children swinging, riding bikes and running around. At first glance, one would not suspect that these children have suffered more than we could imagine. The story of how Maartje van den Brand and Shobha Madhyastha founded and manage the school inspires my future endeavors in life.

IMG_1240Manasa Jyothi is a residential school for mentally and physically handicapped children. They recently moved to their current resident in Kundapur. It’s a modest-sized school that has grown gradually over the last ten years (started in 2000). They have around 18 children between 5-18 years old. The infrastructure can hold up to 35 children. Services include individualized programming based on each child’s needs, free medication and medical care, good hygiene and health practices, daily teaching, exercise, yoga and free medical equipment (i.e. wheelchairs, helmets, back braces). They are challenged to be independent by making their bed, washing their hands and brushing their teeth. The primary goal is to keep the children healthy and clean according to western standards. The secondary goal is to provide a safe and educational home. Tertiary goal: inclusion of disabled children into normal schools. When the Government passed the Right to Education Act in the parliament, disabled children were not included in this article. It is one of ADAPT’s greatest achievements that after much lobbying an amendment of the Right to Education Act was made. This means that more than 30 million disabled children will now have a right to education in India as well. Inclusion in education of children who are differently abled in India still has a long way to go. Two of the students will attend a normal school next term.

IMG_1245A range of staff is available and needed, such as teachers, volunteers, a psychologist, physiotherapist, speech therapist, and occupational therapist to provide unique care for each child. The philosophy is that the children learn best when they are safe, happy, and valued. Every child has this right. They aim to build the children’s self-esteem by teaching them to value themselves and develop other positive qualities (e.g. independence, honesty, integrity, respect for others). They have a non-violence principle and focus on verbal and visual (sign language) communication. The school is funded privately by a trust and does not request money from the parents. This is important for children who do not have loving parents to take care of them properly at home. Manasa Jyothi serves as their home, education and transition into society. In India, the stigmatized status of disabled children renders an unhealthy and sometimes dangerous lifestyle. The children end up on streets, beg for money to survive or are abused. The vision of Manasa Jyothi is to change the stigma by showing the interaction between handicapped children and care-takers.

IMG_1388I enjoyed seeing and hearing Maartje talk about her humble beginnings with Manasa Jyothi. Maartje is a physiotherapist from the Netherlands. Her father has been an inspiring force in her life as he has dedicated the last 15 years of his life working for UNICEF and the UN to improve human rights of people in prison. After graduating and volunteering for an NGO for a year in the slums of Indonesia serving mentally and physically disabled children, she felt a calling to do something good for the world in 2007. She gave up her physiotherapy practice and left family and friends to move to India. She found her way to Manasa Jyothi and was only planning to volunteer for three months in order to improve the health care and education. As time passed, she learned of the horrid things that were happening to the children, such as molestation and abuse. She was so disturbed that she went to the police, which is uncommon to do. People told her to “look the other way”. After three years, she decided to leave and started a foundation in 2009 with help from family and friends in the Netherlands. She mentioned that in our countries (US and Europe), people would be willing to help, but here no one wanted to get involved. “Foreign people come here and think ‘oh this place is too nice. Why do you need more funding?’” It’s a struggle retaining workers at the school because of the stigma behind disabled children. Frequently, workers leave before getting married because “what will the neighbors think if she works with handicapped children?” The woman’s status decreases if she works with handicapped children rendering her less desirable for marriage. Maartje learned the local language, Kannada because she believes communication is pivotal when helping people of a different background. She always says it’s her last year, but looks at the children and can’t leave.

IMG_5610It was shocking and eye-opening to hear the children’s stories. Vino’s parents came to get him fully drunk one day and Maartje now refuses to let him go home. One parent was quoted to say “let God decide if she lives or not”. One girl was locked in a hut for seven years. Another girl had her uterus removed by her parents. Several have cases of cerebral palsy, which developed during birth. Seeing the children at Manasa Jyothi now is a complete turnaround. Vino is awaiting admission to a normal school. The children are clean, smiling, and laughing as they are riding their bikes, chasing after each other or swinging on the playground. I had the opportunity to watch Maartje interact with a girl through sign language, and I could sense the love and connection. The girl looked at Maartje as if she were her mom. I admire that Maartje experienced first-hand a (public health) issue and was courageous enough to pursue a solution to the problem when all odds were against her. A quote on their website encompasses my thoughts and feelings about this school: “it’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.” –Mother Teresa. I hope that one day I can live life giving back to a cause I am passionate about with love.

IMG_5608Afterwards, we headed to the beach in Kundapur, which was surprisingly pretty clean and serene. Stopped by a restaurant for lunch. Dr. Raj ordered us a 5-course meal with samosa, naan, three types of curry, gulab jamun, yogurt, rice with raisins, veggie noodles, fried tortilla chip, white rice, more curry and ice cream with fruit. There was a lot of food.


Dr. Raj’s family joined us for lunch also, and we got introduced to them at the end. We met his brother-in-law, sister, brother and two nieces, one of which is attending Manipal for medical school. His sister is an OBGYN and brother-in-law is a pediatrician.

IMG_5631Adam casually used me as a shoulder rest while we were waiting for the van, which coincidentally happens to me a lot when I’m around tall people. He questioned if I get dark easily since I’m part Malaysian. He asked what the other half is. I said Vietnamese and we concluded that the people get pretty dark.

We went to the Hanging Bridge next. I slept a little on the way there. The bridge was beautiful. I got on it, but decided not to cross because it was precariously waving back and forth. I was imagining what it would be like to fall into the water below, and that scared me because I don’t know how to swim thus causing my fear of large bodies of water. Alvian shared my sentiments, so that was nice someone else understood. Kelsey R and Taniqua didn’t go either. The others just went to the other side and came back. Got some good pictures though!

IMG_1405Then, we went to another beach. Everyone took off their shoes and got in the water except me because I don’t like the feeling of wet sand and shoes. Adam thought of the idea to do a shadow O-H-I-O picture, which turned out awesome!

IMG_1423I took some scenic pictures of a canoe, an elusive clear-colored crab and waves crashing on rocks, while everyone else enjoyed the water. I was cooling myself off with my airplane tickets, which serve as good emergency fans by the way when Adam asked if I save them. Me- “Yes.” Adam- “Me too. I keep my movie tickets also.” Me- “Wait. Me too!” Adam- “Did you save the ones from last night?” Me- “Yes (checks purse).” I’ve been collecting movie tickets since Home Alone was in the theaters. Haha.

IMG_1434We had the option of going shopping afterwards. Half of the people hopped off the van and half of us went with Dr. Raj. The department store had saris, kurtis, cotton scarves, and children’s clothes. Nothing really caught my eye, but several people got some quality stuff for a cheap price.

Returned to campus for tea time: fried tofu-like balls. Back to room. Uploaded pictures to computer and dilly dallied until dinner at 7:30pm. I changed my profile picture to one of me and the little boy I fell in love with at Manasa Jyothi. I went to their website, read, and wrote down information because I am genuinely interested and wanted to remember as much as possible. I posted the website under the profile picture.


Dinner was good: barley rice, roti, Gobi Manchurian, squash curry, and another curry. Had yogurt also. It’s weird – I hated the yogurt in the beginning, but now I really like it as a palate cleanser at the end of the meal. Serves as a pseudo-dessert too. Sat with Kelsey F, Alexa, Adam, and Lindsey. I asked how Sahanna was feeling. She said “better.” Someone said Adam should do a Mohawk. And he turned it on me and said I should do a Mohawk. Lindsey said “that’s gonna take a lot of maintenance.” Adam continued with “buy a leather jacket and wear some brass knuckles.” Me- “I think of Grand Theft Auto when I hear brass knuckles.” Adam- “That’s what I was basing it off of! Get out of my head.” I nod my head a lot when I listen to other people talk. Adam started imitating me and I burst out laughing. Alexa and Kelsey F were like “What’s going on? Did we miss something?” Adam was just being super silly. I haven’t laughed that hard in a while.

Walked back to hostel with Lindsey and ran into half of the girls standing in a circle at the top of the 5th floor stairs. Xhonela, Kelsey R, Lauren, Ashley, and Nikki were there. We talked about experiences in India and bugs. I shared my lizard story. Some shared their excitement for heading back to the states. I find it more worthwhile to make the most of every moment, good or bad. It’s inevitable that we’re leaving, so why pine for that day when you can be happy right now? I constantly remind myself that we won’t ever be in this moment in our lives again. Back at the room, I washed clothes, showered, skyped Arif and mom, tried catching up in the word doc journal in bed, but fell asleep. Sesen posted a comment on my FB expressing her surprise that I worked at Hollister and teased me about having a lot of past lives. It made me think about authenticity and the implications of being a “mysterious” person. I don’t really talk about myself very often – preferring to listen to others first, but one of my goals in life is to be more vulnerable. So I found myself pondering if having different facets of your personality show at different times a good thing or bad thing. I tried figuring this out on Skype with Arif. I want to be an authentic person and thought the way to do this is to be one person across life’s many different activities. He brought up that it’s not really possible to be the same person because we have to act differently in different settings (I remember learning about the term “impression management” in sociology). I guess he’s right. We both concluded that the most important way to be authentic is to make sure your core values stay the same.

Manasa Jyothi Handicapped Residential SchoolMy favorite group photo on the trip.

Another quote from the Manasa Jyothi website: “Consideration like ‘he is mine or he is another’s’ occur only to narrow-minded people. To broad-minded people the whole world is their family.”

Day 20 (Thursday, May 22): Airport Security at the Movies

Woke up an hour ahead of my alarm. I’ve learned to leave the AC off and put the fan on a little higher to make the conditions more comfortable to sleep in. Fell back asleep and woke up again at 7:15am (real alarm). Feeling very refreshed and energized – even had time to read a case study on leprosy. I think I might choose to do my final project on this. The disease is a mix of microbiology and neuroscience, which I find very fascinating. And it’s exciting that we have the opportunity to visit a leprosy hospital today! Breakfast around 8:45am: omelet and two pancakes. Took group photo in front of the library by a professional photographer.

(16)Bus ride was long – a little more than an hour. Saw their College of Nursing and medical college.

IMG_1170IMG_1172Followed guy in a white coat to a lecture room.

IMG_1175Went to the bathroom in someone’s office.


Refreshments were served: lime juice and a cookie.

IMG_5594The guy in the white coat talked for a little.

IMG_1179We saw a video about the history of the campus and Father Muller (German. Heal and comfort, selfless service, putting patients before self, compassionate care). Dr. Kamath then delivered a powerpoint on leprosy. I knew about half the info because of reading the case study this morning. Hehe.

  • Communicable- spread by droplets, contact.
  • Numbers are coming down into the double digits. On the elimination (1 case per 10,000). WHO is donating meds, which helps the decreasing cases.
  • Myths- curse of God, past sins. Failure to appreciate the social and psychological factors.
  • 750 beds
  • Medical college (2001). Hostel for 1500 students.
    Homeopathic medicine.
  • Occupational rehab. Run a store (sell item as service. Patients receive profit).


  • Braces (equalize pressure on foot).


  • Visited some patients.
  • India has 60% of cases.
  • Signs- White patch. Test: close eyes, cotton feather or pen, no pain sensation. Hypo-pigmented, nodule in ear lobe, acid fast bacilli, nerves sensory loss, weak muscles, foot drop, hand drop, absorption of fingers (no blood supply, no nerve. No need to amputate because not spreading), claw hand (ulnar and median nerve), thickened nerve in elbow.
  • 1st stage: sensation loss (housewife move hot pot and don’t feel). Can reverse. 5th stage: irreversible disability.
  • Everything is free. Vaccine in trial.

Slept on the way home. Ate lunch in cafeteria with Dr. Kamath. Food tasted really good because it was already 3pm when we ate.

Back to room for about an hour. I continued reading case studies. Now, neglected tropical diseases really interest me.

Tea time 5:15pm: pizza roll-like bread and cake.

IMG_5596Ran into Paul at tea time and had a sincere conversation about our future careers, movies, and aspects of this trip. Walked up to the second floor of the cafeteria to find about seven of our classmates sitting waiting for food. I decided to try the aloo patty at Subway for dinner because it was the sub of the day and Sahanna had previously raved about it. I didn’t know what to expect, but it tasted just like hash brown! I like this better than chicken breast. Subway (with an Indian twist) might be one of the best things I’ve had here. Haha.


Everyone went to the movie theater to watch X-men in 3D. At first, I wasn’t too enthused about the movie choice because I never watched the X-men series and thought I wasn’t intrigued by superhero movies, but boy was I wrong. The ticket cost 180 rupees ($3 USD). They assign seats upon purchasing the movie ticket. I sat with Kelsey and Lauren.

Entering the INOX movie theater, a couple of fast food restaurants line the perimeter. To the right, begins the line through security. The first guy rips the ticket. Then, stop by a counter where the women check inside your bags. I had gum and my camera battery confiscated. The language barrier was a problem, and I didn’t understand what she wanted me to do about it. Thankfully, a girl behind me in line helped me out and said they’ll keep it at the counter and a matching tag will be handed to me, so that I can pick it up after the movie. I walked through the metal detector and then another personnel waved a wand around my body, just like airport security. We couldn’t bring water in. The US should adopt some of these procedures in light of the recent movie theater shootings. After this, we were finally able to walk up the stairs. Kelsey R said I looked traumatized by the experience. Haha. There was a typical concession stand of movie theater food.

IMG_5600Inside, the auditorium felt just like the US. Attendants showed us to our seats and offered a menu for food. Three previews played.

IMG_5598Overall, the movie far exceeded my expectations. I loved the humanitarian aspect – lots of deep quotes. The narration at the beginning and end of the movie was superb. I found myself nodding my head a couple times. I liked the tie to science also – DNA and mutations. Here are some quirky notes about Indian movie theaters:

  • When someone on the screen smokes, a PSA pops up “Smoking is injurious to your health”. I like this a lot.
  • They silenced out a swear word (f#$%).
  • The audience really likes cheering and laughing when the parts aren’t really that funny.
  • Intermission in the middle of the movie. I surprisingly liked this. Affords a bathroom break and builds up anticipation for the second part.

Random: I liked the small amount of Vietnamese spoken in the movie. Haha. I’ve never experienced that before.

In the bathroom, they had square toilets and toilet paper!

IMG_5599Lauren, Kelsey and, I individually took a pic of the bathroom and we shared this factoid after coming out and Lauren was like “we’re soul mates”. Rickshaw back with Lindsey and Taniqua. Washed clothes, showered, skyped mom and got all caught up on the word doc journal!