2.28.2011

Notes on India


-I noticed in the different areas that the dogs had different statures. In Guwahati they were shorter and more compact with short coats. In Delhi they were taller, leaner and had longer coats. In Agra they were right in between. The common thread is that there were stray dogs EVERYWHERE. Sleeping in the street (this is what I tell myself), digging through trash, fighting in the dark, begging for food. 

-I saw a few animals out and about. Peacocks in fields. Camels pulling carts as well as camels in fields. Elephants walking down the street. Monkeys hanging out on walkways. Cows wherever cows wanted to be. Goats walking around, eating the good luck palms and veggies that people tie to the front of their cars. Cats in the hospital. The only horses I rally saw were for pulling wedding parties.

-The trash burning is almost unbearable. There were times while I was working in the PACU that smoke filled the room from the trash burning behind the hospital. It was not pleasant to say the least. 

-Also about trash. The state of Assam does not have any actual trash collecting/disposing system. Trash cans are non-existent. Trash just piles up on the street, there are only a few dumpsters here and there. I think I saw someone one time who appeared to be emptying the dumpsters. If I didn’t know that a vast majority of Indians cremate the dead I’d even venture to say that I smelled a decomposing body in one of the dumpsters as I passed. 

-The fabrics, spices and teas are like no other. I bought 2.5 kilos of tea for less than 10 dollars. I have been drinking it every day! Also, after having chai here Starbucks chai will never satisfy me!

-I didn’t eat a morsel of meat or uncooked vegetables while there. I was also very vigilant with drinking/brushing with bottled water. I’m pretty sure that’s why I had no stomach issues. 

-I can’t get over the driving here. I felt safer in the car with the driver in Delhi but being on a bus was scary. It is rare to see people driving in the actual lane. On a four lane road you’d often see 6 or more lanes of cars. All of them swerving or driving down the middle of a lane. Red and green lights mean nothing. I saw one stop sign and we didn’t stop at it. A four person car can easily carry 12 or more people. 6-8 on the inside. The rest hanging out or sitting on top. At one point I saw a small van packed brim to brim with 15 or so additional people riding around on top. No care ever. It is not uncommon to see babies and small children packed in between their parents on a motorcycle. I saw many just snoozing away, zipping down the street. It is also not uncommon to see small children driving the motorcycles and scooters with a parent on the back. I guess you have start driving sometime. 

-There is near constant honking. That was the most over stimulating for me I think. It is just a form of communication on the road here. They honk if they want to pass, as they pass and after they pass. They honk at you even if it’s clear you’re running across the road. It’s a lot of noise a lot of the time. 

-I could never have taken in everything visually. Every day we took the same route to the hospital and the same route back. Every day I noticed something new. Sometimes beautiful, sometimes heartbreaking. Sometimes both. There are beautiful alters and statues of Gods/Goddesses and to the right and left there are shacks, falling apart with mounds of trash surrounding them. There is just so much beauty enveloped in so much poverty. It is a lot to wrap my mind around.

- I have been home for a week and still feel out of place

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