Monday, July 17, 2006

You have to be able to pick out the easy meat

With your eyes closed

Another update from Quagmire, over in India.

After a weekend in the countryside I am back in Mumbai again and
working at the Leprosy hospital. This morning we had lectures for 4 hours. I made it through 2 of them and then had to leave. Normally, I'm all for lectures, but the idea of traversing the globe and immersing myself in a new and interesting culture does not include sitting in a dank auditorium that smells a fair bit more than vaguely of urine. Tonight I go to more evening clinic, this time with a private pediatrician. I've heard good things about the guy I'm working with tonight, so I am optimistic.

The weekend was really cool. Ten of us went to Aurangabad, which is a one hour flight east of Mumbai. It's a sleepy little town that is clean and well kempt -- quite a shock compared to Mumbai, which is, frankly, a cesspool.

Just outside of Aurangabad there are two sets of man-made caves - the Ajanta caves and the Ellora caves. These are temples that were carved into the bedrock between 200 BC and 600 AD, where the monks could live in solitude and seek complete
enlightenment. Now, obnoxious tourists flock there to be assaulted by aggressive vendors trying to sell crappy trinkets at exorbitant prices. They're mostly Buddhist temples, but there are also Hindu and Jain temples as well. I think in all there were 60 caves started of which about 15 were completed.

I think I liked the Jain temples the best, they were done with an elephant motif. We also visited this enormous fort called Daulatabad fortress. It's basically a giant labyrinth of buildings, towers, and underground passageways surrounded
by parapets and a moat. Monkeys roam both the forts as well and the caves we visited. Also, there were many cannons still in place in the fort.

Towers, monkeys and cannons - a winning combination in my book.

Given the calm that has resumed in the city, I should be able to spend more time in the clinic this week. So far, after natural disasters, religious unrest and terrorism (and some weekend travelling), I have made maybe 30% of the clinical hours. Hopefully this week I can double that.

The night of the bombing we all stayed at the Guesthouse at Mumbai University (I am normally at a hotel about 5 min away). We were all hanging out in a room and talking when one of the other people in my program decided to go to the roof of the building to look at the city.

I went along and we went onto the terrace and then up to the very top of the building to see the city at night. When we came back to the door back into the guesthouse, someone had locked it from the inside.

We spent the whole night on the roof. It wasn't really that bad until the monsoon made a visit at about 5 AM.

OK, clinic is a couple hours away and who knows how long the cab ride will be. Hope everyone is well.