Fall Fashion Week 2011- 9/29!

This will be my last post for Fall Fashion Week! Tomorrow I will be traveling all day because I have a week off! This is made possible because: 
1) I worked night shift this week
2) There is a big Hindu holiday next week called Durga Puja and the center will be closed for most of the week
3) Susie is awesome and made my schedule so that I could extend my week off!

This may seem crazy but my destination is Hong Kong! I have a friend who lives there and is so graciously putting me up for the week! I looked into a lot of different get aways here in India and Nepal and they were all either too expensive or required too much planning for me right now. I am currently planning/reserving all the plane and train tickets for when my little sister comes out here in December and my mind couldn't handle planning a last minute excursion here. My eyes were crossed after figuring out the train and flight situation as we need to share some flights but not others, etc. I love seeing this country but travel here is exhausting and is far from easy. The ticket to HK was the cheapest and easiest. I plan on getting there and figuring the rest out as I go (my favorite)! I am so thankful for my friend who is letting me stay with her, I can hardly contain my excitement. 

On to the outfit! It's true. I brought out the party pants. I wore this to the final party after the mission week; I considered wearing a sari but they are so hard to dance in! This has to be one of my favorite blouses I have ever found while thrifting. I believe my mom said it reminded her of a pregnancy top she wore in the 80's. All the better!!

(can we ignore that my bangs make me look like I have a comb over? I blame the 100 degree heat and crazy humidity)

The Head to Toe
Top: Thrifted
Belt: Thrifted
Party Pants: AA
Shoes: H&M

I have really enjoyed this week looking at what all of you lovely ladies are wearing this Fall! You have all been wonderful, positive and beautiful! I can wait to be able to thrift again, I am feeling inspired! Keep in touch, okay? I'll see you when I get back! 


What would it feel like?

You came to us on the first day of our September mission. There were a hundred people in the room but I couldn't look at anyone else. I felt like I was holding my breath as I saw you move from station to station being screened. Did you ever worry that we might tell you that we can't help? That it is too late? Did you ever worry that you made this trip only to be turned away? I worried. I saw how thin you were, how much working out in the tea fields your whole life had aged you. I prayed. I held my breath. My heart fluttered as you met me at the final station to have your chart reviewed. I read what the pediatrician, surgeons and anesthesiologists all had to say. My eyes welled with tears as I saw those three words with a check mark next to them "Cleared for surgery." I knew that tomorrow your life would change, did you?

What would it feel like to have lived over fifty years with a cleft lip? Your eyes told me that life has been hard on you, without any words I knew. Were you allowed to go to school? To go out of the house? When you were growing up did you wish you had a whole smile, a normal lip? Your eyes. I can't stop thinking of your eyes and how much hurt there was written deep inside them.

Would you have ever dreamed that after fifty years, a group might come along and offer you repair? How did you feel when you heard of us, when our student team first examined you hours and hours away in your village? Was it a struggle to decide to come all the way here, to trust us? To trust me? Did you feel hopeful? I know you would not have gotten on that bus and rode here if you didn't want the chance to be changed. I hurt deep inside my chest for you, I want to erase all the pain. Could you feel the love pour out of me in that first moment we met? Did you feel some of that pain coming undone?

I saw you the next morning, sitting up in your hospital bed with your bandana tied around the lower half of your face. A way of hiding your lip that breaks my heart in to a thousand pieces. You were wearing your green patient gown, today was your day. I saw something different in your eyes, a new kind of worry. Were you unsure if this was all real? Did you ever question that you were making the right decision? How did you feel that night as you slept on the hospital bed? Was there any hope in your heart? How did you mentally prepare yourself for the change you were about to endure?

Hours later you were sitting up stairs, waiting to be taken back to the operating room. Your eyes darted from person to person, taking it all in. What were you thinking in that moment? Did you see me there, could you feel how excited I was for you? Before I knew it, you came and went from the recovery room and were brought back down to the ward to rest until the next day. As you laid in the hospital bed again, did you feel different? Was it every thing you expected? Did you make the right choice for you? Did it feel worth all of your trouble? Were you happy?

The day you left from the hospital I saw you again with your bandanna tied around the lower half of your face. I ran over to you and asked you to lower your bandanna, I told you that you looked handsome. I wish I had told you that before your surgery. You were so beautiful, you see. Had anyone said these words before me? Did you ever feel self-worth? Will you ever be able to walk freely without covering yourself? Or is over fifty years of damage too much? I worried that you may never feel the change inside that we all saw outside. I thought about you all day until the madness of the mission set in and my thoughts became occupied with others.

One week later I came out of the recovery room to see you sitting on the bench where you had anxiously awaited your surgery just seven days prior. I swelled with joy as I noticed that something was missing. I scanned your hands and your pockets and I didn't see it. The bandanna wasn't with you. What would it feel like? To finally be free? To have lived a whole life hiding then to be liberated? To have hope where once there was none? 

Fall Fashion Week 2011- 9/28

One thing my friend told me to bring with me before I moved here was plenty of long skirts. They are easy to squat in if you only have squatty potties, they breath, move and are modest! I love this thrift store find and wear it all the time. The one problem is that it isn't good in the rain and you have to remember to life it off the ground when you walk into the toilet! The street I'm on here is what I walk down to head to the coffee shop, the bread bakery, some restaurants and on the right of the picture you can see the green walls of the shop where I found a girl working with a cleft palate (you can read about that here.) 

The Head to Toe
Shirt: AA from Buffalo Exchange
Skirt: Goodwill
Bracelet: Gift
Bag: Streets of McLeod Ganj
Awkward face: Inherent

Only one more day! (for me!)


Fall Fashion Week 2011- 9/27!

Have I ever mentioned to you how much I absolutely love the balcony we have off our flat? It has such a beautiful view! It is also perfect for evening chats with the roomies, drying laundry, reading, and most importantly for dancing and singing. I may engage in late night George Michael karaoke, just belting it out over the balcony for all to enjoy.  Guilty pleasures. 

The Head to Toe:
Earring: Circus Kinetica (bought in a cafe in Manali, India)
Sweater: Vintage from Red Velvet Shop
Skinny Jeans: Paige Denim from Buffalo
Shoes: Okay so does anyone see a trend? Shoes have become just a thing to protect my feet from broken glass in between walking destinations :/

What are you wearing today?


My own brew of tea, it's all the rage right now

Every single morning I have to have my cup of tea to get the day started on the right foot. It isn't so much about the caffeine as it is the morning tradition. Sometimes it's green tea, sometimes it's milk tea. It could be loose leaf or it could be a tea bag. In the winter I like mint teas, living here I discovered lemon ginger tea. I love tea, it is essential!

Wednesday morning I woke up late. I thought I might have time to drink my tea with breakfast so I made it in my normal cup. As I rushed to get ready for work I realized that I would need to pour it in my travel mug. I grabbed the mug (whose lid I lost months ago) out of my backpack, quickly rinsed it in the sink then dumped in my tea. I ran out of the door, got in the car and finally had my first sip. Immediately I noticed that the tea tasted a bit off. I blamed it on the fact that we only had powder milk and it probably just tasted different. I kept sipping. It tasted a bit like soap so then I wondered if I didn't rinse my cup well enough after washing it the center the previous day. I kept sipping.

We arrived at the hospital and I went into the ward to look over the patients for the day. After I was done I went walking upstairs to the center. That's when I saw it. In my travel mug, after drinking half of my tea I saw a huge black something floating in it. It was just poking out of the surface and I started panicking. I rushed up the stairs, into the conference and said to Rosie "I am going to pass out right now, what is in my tea?!?!?!" (It turns out that someone who actually passes out, probably shouldn't use that phrase for dramatic effect.) Rosie, being the brave woman she is, grabbed the cup and investigated as I just sat there frozen repeating "what is in my tea??" She eventually picked up a fork and fished out nothing other than a.... sock. Thats right, a sock. WHAT THE HELL?!? A sock?! I brewed and drank sock tea.

It obviously made its way into my travel mug from backpack but I have no idea why it didn't come out when I rinsed out my mug that morning. I also have no idea why I continued drinking tea that didn't taste right. I consumed dirty, Guwahati, dusty, sock tea. Classic Kristin moment right there folks.

So what did I end up doing? I tossed the sock, dumped the rest of the tea and really rinsed out my mug. Then I collected myself and walked down to the omelette walla. There I got a nice cup of milk tea and a fresh roti omelette. Yum!

Fall Fashion Week 2011- 9/26!

Can you really tell now, based on this favorite outfit that I don't live in the states anymore?! I don't feel comfortable wearing tank tops around town or around the surgical center so I throw a nice shawl around my shoulders, that way my arms can breath but I feel covered! Baba pants are basically what Aladdin wears in the movie Aladdin (duh!). You might hear me describe them as the pants you buy in India but Indians don't wear. They are ridiculously comfy, breathe on the hot and humid days and  have a lot of room for storage, if you're into stuffing things down your trousers.  

The head to toe:
Shawl: Streets of Guwahati
Tank: AA
Baba pants: Streets of Varanasi
Shoes: Who needs them?

Thanks to Emery Jo for hosting this again! I am having so much fun seeing everyone's posts! Also, it's never too late to join in on the fun!


Fall Fashion Week 2011- 9/25!

For the "team bonding" day I joined the mission volunteers on the always lovely boat cruise/lunch along the Brahmaputra river. The lunch was good and the bit of dancing we did was fun! It always makes me look forward to the final party where every two months I get to dance to my little heart's content. It was especially hot that day, I am thinking a belt was a bad choice!

The Head to Toe:
Earring: Circus Kinetica purchased in Manali
Top: Fab India
Belt: H&M
Black Skinnies: Citizens

Click here and link up!


Fall Fashion Week 2011- 9/24!

This weekend is much appreciated (and I am excited to start this fun little blogging week)! I can't even count the number of hours we worked here at the center, there were a lot of long days packed with many surgeries. Our total was 135 in 6 1/2 days! I love mission weeks and the energy level they bring but some serious rest is needed. 

I have to be honest, many of the pictures for this coming week were taken on other days, for instance right now I am actually in pjs in bed! There really is no such thing as "Fall" here in India, it seems that we go from summer to monsoon to post-monsoon then straight into winter. Right now it is still monsoon season where I live. Yesterday the street I live on was flooded to my knees after a downpour! There will be no boots or wedges or fuzzy Fall beanies here! Today it felt like it was 100 degrees outside then out of nowhere it monsooned, so crazy!! 

The Head to Toe:
Blouse: Vintage from Red Velvet Shop
High Waist Leggings: AA
Shoes: Who needs them?

Don't forget!


On the way home

Today we had the team bonding day aka the day off in the middle of the mission week. After a nice lunch on the river, I decided to hoof it home. I love walking down by the river, even though it was really hot! There is so much to see with each eye full, I feel like I will never be able to take it all in. 



Yesterday we had our first surgical day of our September mission. During the screening process we seemed to have a majority of adult patients. I knew I was in trouble! Yes, the kids we care for make me want to take them home but the adults tug on my heart on a whole different level. As the long first day was drawing closed, I found myself recovering one of the adult lip repairs. He was under general anesthesia so until he woke up in the recovery room he hadn't seen his new lip. He slowly became alert and I brought him over the mirror to have a look. I held the mirror in my hands as he gazed at himself, moving his head around to check out different angles. He wagged his head side to side signifying that he was done looking. I went to put it down when he reached out towards the mirror. Thinking he wanted another look, I tried to place the mirror in his hand. He shook his head no and grasped my hand. Slowly he raised our hands and touched them to his forehead. He closed his eyes, mouthed a prayer then gently laid my hand down on the bed. Our eyes met, he wagged his head side to side again and with that act of gratefulness I found myself in tears.

I had to walk away and quietly re-compose myself! After a few minutes I walked back to his bedside and he immediately started speaking to me in Assamese. I called over one of the local nurses for me and she translated that he was concerned that his family member who came with him had not eaten dinner. It was very late and he wanted to make sure he had been taken care of. A man who had not eaten for over 18 hours and was recovering from surgery found himself more concerned over his attendant than his own well-being. What a kind and gentle soul he was! 


April 2012

When I moved to India last May I was contracted for six months with the option to extend for an additional six months to the one year my visa will allow. The extension decision was to take place in August and was dependent on a whole bunch of factors.

Soon after I moved here I knew I wanted to stay for the full year, my little heart kind of was set on it. August came closer and after a long skype call with all of the international nurses it became fairly clear that I would not be needed for the full year. I felt fine with that decision as I have always said, I only want to stay here for as long as I am needed. I got in the mind set of coming home in the fall, left for my little Indian vacation and started mentally planning my life come November. 

While I was away I started receiving e-mails saying not to make any concrete plans, to wait until I got back from vacation to talk things over. Enter stress. I had wanted to stay but was told that wasn't necessary so then I kind of wanted to go home. Now I may be back to staying again! I didn't know what to think and wasn't sure of which decision to make.

I came back to Guwahati and talked things over with a few different people and they asked me to stay for an additional six months. I am not going to lie, it wasn't an easy decision to make. I knew that I would lose my position in my PICU back in California plus disappoint my family/friends that thought I would come home in the fall. I lost sleep and racked my brain like crazy. My heart was telling me to stay here but my (annoyingly) sensible brain was telling me not to. Finally after talking to my dad for a while he said he felt that I should follow my heart. That was all the reassurance I needed. I went into work the next day and signed the contract to stay here until April 2012. 

Ack! It's real, I am going to live here until the Spring. I must be feeling really good because my appetite is in full swing and I'm gaining weight like I needed to. I've also been dancing spontaneously so my spirits are in a good place. 

I miss you California, don't think I don't. I just have some business to take care of here. I hope you can understand. 


What makes a home, a home?

Sometimes when I refer to the importance of keeping things in perspective, I specifically refer to the fact that I (with guilt) feel like I live in the lap of luxury when there are whole families who live under the ramp of the hospital I work out of. I just wanted to give you a little more understanding of what I mean, even though these few pictures doesn't really do the situation justice. Here is the ramp that I push my patients down every day when they go from the recovery room on the third floor to the ward on the ground floor:

On the ground floor a few families have made their homes:

They've put thatching and some metal as siding and that is where they live, it is their home. I believe that most of the people that live there are somehow connected to the hospital as employees. For many months it blew my mind that families have put down their roots here. It broke my heart and made me want to scoop up the children who reside there and take them home. For a long time I felt this sadness every time I walked past until one day I was pushing a patient down in a wheel chair when I heard the unmistakable sound of a television. I looked around trying to figure out where it was coming from when I realized it was coming from the ramp homes! How they managed to get television in there, I have no idea but it made me giggle. People here manage to make the best of even the most desperate situations and that is one of the reasons I will forever be connected to this country. I would have sworn that there was no way they had any 'modern' luxuries down there but, alas, they do! I still giggle every time I walk by and hear familiar commercials. Really though,  here are my two favorite things about the families who live there:

These kids brighten up my day just about every day. I found myself at work both last Saturday and Sunday but I didn't mind one bit because I got to spend a lot of time playing with Samil and Rupa. There were piggy back rides, walking all the way crouched down so they could put their arms around my shoulders, hide and seek, and lots of other silliness that took place last weekend thanks to them. What I can't stop thinking about is how much the little boy reminds me of my nephew Houston. Both in stature and personality. I think Samil is his Indian doppleganger.

By the way cutest baby of the week goes to:


Fall Fashion Week- 2011!

I really enjoyed this last year and am hoping to be able to fully participate again. Any of you who were around a year ago will notice a huge style departure. I fully blame India on this one! Most of the clothes I wear are still thrifted but there will be no dresses, skirts, tights, or hair done nicely! I can't wait to share with you all of the interesting ways I manage to stay modest around these parts, and what I wear now for a night out. Anyways, Emery Jo is hosting it again, so click down below to find out more details!


The things people carry

I have a fellow nurse friend who was here at the center for two months who started a collection of photographs of "things people carry on their heads." I really loved the idea because it is incredible what I have seen being carried around. I also have a more grotesque collection of "things you find on the street" but I am not sure the majority of people would want to see those things so I will keep them to myself! Here is my first photo from this weekend, seriously?! 

I just have a little point and shoot camera so it gets a little difficult, I tried to get a good one of this guy:

I think I enjoy the lady to the left of the frame more. Take a walk through this bazaar and your eyes will be filled with more than you can take in all at once. 

In other news, last week the much anticipated PALS course took place for some of the healthcare workers! I am so proud of everyone, all 13 who completed the course passed! Sweet success! 

 (From L to R: Indian, Colombian, Aussie, Indian, Colombian, Indian, Kiwi, and an American just at the edge of the frame. We are an eclectic group!)

The course involves a huge amount of material and since it is an AHA course, it takes quite a bit of skill and knowledge to pass. These are the first AHA certified PALS providers in the North East states of India to anyone's knowledge. I could not be more proud!!!


McLeod Ganj: In pictures & Other things

Last night I decided to import the entries from my other blog in an effort to merge them together so I apologize if that somehow took over your blog feed. I originally thought I'd keep a separate place for writing things about the work I am doing and keep this blog for every day life but it has all become one for me, I can't keep them apart anymore! 

Here are the only pictures I was able to take in McLeod Ganj. It seemed like a beautiful place, I really enjoyed it and would like to go back. I spent my days drinking tea (don't EVER order Tibetan Butter tea) and volunteering at conversational English classes with the exiled Tibetan monks. McCleod Ganj is where the exiled Tibetan government lives, and therefore is home to the Dalai Lama when he is in town. There is an air of peacefulness and love that is undeniable in this town, I quite enjoyed it!

 The sunshine lasted for about one hour and then it monsooned the rest of the time I spent there!

Om Mani Padme Hum