28 May 2016
Considering I went to bed at 8pm the night before, it’s no surprise I awoke at 5am fully rested. I lounged around a bit, went outside, and read. I waited for Sarah to wake up. We had our morning tea at 6:30am and waited for breakfast. For breakfast, we had Idly (1 each) and dose (1 each) along with sides of chutney, which comes with every meal. After breakfast, we had a very leisure morning- just sitting on our beds, not doing much of anything. Sarah had treatment scheduled for 10am, and I decided to venture out.
Yes, I took a map, but I’m getting a bit more familiar with the main streets outside of the hospital. I started along the main road, and as I was walking, I turned down a ‘residential’ street, which would be referred to as an ‘alleyway’ back in the states. Many homes, many people, many different sights. There were many ‘chores’ being done in the street: washing clothes, feeding the animals, fetching water, etc. I thought to myself ‘it’s Saturday’. Granted, I wasn’t sure if this was a typical Saturday, or if I just happened to stroll along this residential street on a Saturday. Maybe I will start paying more attention to the streets and days of the week to recognise the difference. Also, as I was walking along, there were many children out and about playing or helping out. The children are less discreet when they stare at me: it may be my western wear, my blonde hair, or my white coloured skin. They look at me in awe and usually receive a smile back when I wave and smile at the children. At one point, I passed a boy, I waved and smiled at him. He ran a couple meters ahead of me to join other boys, and as I passed him again, it looked as though they were making fun of my walk. One of the boys was walking, swinging his hips, and swinging his arms as the other boys were laughing at him. When they saw me pass them, they stopped imitating my walk and chuckled a bit. I just smiled, waved, and continued walking. As I was exiting this ‘residential’ street and entering onto the ‘main’ road, I realized it would have been awesome to set up my camera on a timer mode to figure out how many of the children I could capture in a picture- maybe next time. When I told this idea to Sarah when I returned to the hospital, her initial response was ‘the Sarah glare’ with the word ‘Why?’ Just one of the many differences between us, However, she did admit ‘it would be a good picture.’
The walk continued without the use of a map, and I finally ended up on a familiar road without hitting any dead ends (sorry to disappoint you, dad). I continued walking to check out the different sights and stores. The original plan was to buy a water bottle during this excursion and be back in the hospital for doctor’s rounds that 11am. However, the shop full of punjabis distracted me as I am attempting to find a punjabi I like. I’ve found plenty of them, but something is ‘off’ with all of them. When I left this ‘punjabi warehouse’ it was 10 minutes to 11am. I hustled back. I thought I was going the correct way, and I was, but I realized the way I was headed had more twists and turns and residential streets. At this point, I decided to turn around and take the main street back in order to ensure no wrong turns. I arrived back at the compound just missing the doctor’s rounds.
Sarah and I chit chatted, read, walked the compound, and lounged around until lunchtime. I told her all about the punjabi shopping experience and my goal to buy a water bottle – all failed! Maybe this afternoon- I told her. Lunch arrived: carrot rice with sides of chutney, squash, okra. We ate and enjoyed, but we also decided it wasn’t the tastiest if the hospital meals. After lunch, Sarah was determined not to fall into her routine of the post prandial nap, so we strolled the compound. However, after a 1/4 mile walk, we returned to the room. I covered my arms before heading out for the punjabi shopping experience.
Again, I thought I knew where I was going, but I double backed a couple of times to find more shops where punjabis were sold. I found a couple, but I also thought they were too heavy. The one I wanted read ‘dry clean only’ on the tag. I decided to wait and talk with Sarah before purchase. Back at the hospital (post walk) she informed me ‘as long as you wash it in the delicate cycle, it should be okay.’ She said many tags say this just to warn you it is a delicate material and to be gentle with the wash cycle. I continued on the walk and turned down another ‘main’ street. i stopped by another textile shop to inquire about stitching me a punjabi. I decided against a ‘one of a kind’ punjabi at this point. However, on my return, I wondered to myself ‘I like the fit of this top (a tank top I was wearing). I wonder if they can put sleeves on it’. I returned to this shop and in broken English asked. They did. At first, I was hesitant due to the broken English being exchanged between us, but they did a great job. I’ll admit, I’m less fan of the shirt now, but it covers my arms and keeps me cool. In India, tank tops and shorts are not readily acceptable on women. Therefore, when I walk around in this 35-45 degree Celsius heat with capris and 3/4 sleeve shirts, I sweat . . . a lot.
The main reason for these walks are to escape the monotony of the hospital and explore the surrounding areas. Honestly, before I came to India, I heard horror stories about the men, the streets, ‘kidneyville’. As of right now,in haven’t experienced any of that, but I have also been staying to busy streets in the middle of the day. Continue to pray for safety – thank you!
I returned to the hospital to find Sarah doing yoga in our room. Afternoon tea arrived, we chit chatted, read, walked, and the other normal stuff we do.
As we were sitting outside one of our elderly woman neighbours asked us to come and speak to her. We conversed with her in broken English. Yes, at times it is awkward when there is a lull in the conversation due to the language barrier, but we manage a small conversation. She informed us her last day here will be 1 June, and then she shall return to Calcutta. Her husband is here with her, but we have not seem much of him. She is here for pain due to her unnatural gate.. Her daughter lives in Singapore, but will come and visit her on 13 June. During a lull in the conversation, she suggested we play Ludo. She retrieved her game, and we learned how to play Ludo. Ludo is very similar to the American game ‘Sorry’. She didn’t really teach us how to play, but played for us. As each of us had our ‘chances’ (turns), she suggested our moves for us. Sarah and I would count our moves/boxes as 1,2,3,4 and land on our space, and she would glide her piece over 4 spaces. She didn’t have to count. I attributed this to her knowing the board from years of playing. When Sarah and I were contemplating our move (as we had multiple pieces able to move), she would ‘recommend’ our move for us and move our piece. If we made a move that she didn’t like, she would say ‘no, no, no’ and move our piece back to the original position and move an additional piece to a better position. With her help (or really her playing for me), I won!!!
The completion of the game ended with dinner being served, so Sarah and I returned to our room. Only 1 dinner was served to our room as we decided earlier in the day, I would eat at the Canteen (hospital kitchen). We have been told that the Canteen has more flavourful dishes with more spices. Ironically, Sarah and I found this hard to believe as we enjoyed the food delivered to the room. However, I went to the Canteen to eat- first time Sarah and I didn’t share a meal together during this excursion. I entered the Canteen, washed my hands, ordered my food, and felt like ‘an outsider’ waiting all alone at a table with only one other person in this 6 table Canteen. They brought me my dinner: dosa. Yes, I took a picture, and this plate looked different than the ‘hospital food’. They did give me a spoon and a napkin – probably because I was ‘the white girl’ as the guy at the other table did not receive a napkin, nor a spoon. I attempted to eat with just my right hand as your left hand is considered dirty. The Indian food eating custom is to eat with your hands. THE. FLAVOR. I didn’t realize what I had been missing. The spices, the flavor, the heat in this dish were amazing. My mouth was on fire, and it was delicious. I couldn’t believe it. The dosa (a rice, thin, pancake like) tasted the same, but the chutney (side dishes/’sauce’) was more flavorful and full of spice. They also serve hot water with the meal to ‘take the edge off’ due to the heat of the spices. Supposedly, the hot water makes the spice/heat/flavor more intense before it settles down. I noticed the increase of the heat, not the settling down part. Love it- I haven’t told Sarah yet, but I might be eating at the Canteen for more of my meals. The patients are to have a bland diet to restore balance in their bodies as opoosed to the spices and flavor of true Indian food.
As I was walking back to the room, I bumped into Sarah as she was strolling around the grounds. I returned to the room only to surprise a friend of mine with an early Saturday morning wake up call. (In all fairness, I did text her first to ask if she was awake.). Rebekah and I conversed for 10 minutes before the ‘other side of the world’ created static and poor Internet connectivity. However, the advancements in technology make the world a small place.
Sarah returned to the room where we chit chatted, read, lounged around, before falling asleep. However, at 9pm a truck and a loudspeaker came blaring through this part of Coimbatore. The ‘Sarah glare’ glanced my way. We closed the door to decrease the noise, but it was only the passing of the truck to another area of the town before the noise died down.