6.29.2012

When it rains...

My morning routine now runs something like:

0500: Wake up with the first peeks of sunlight through the curtains
0515: Force myself back to sleep
0745: Roll out of bed
0755: Make protein shake and grab medicine
0800: Drive to Lakhtokia on Lil Miss Bleu (my scooter)
0805: Find the momma who needs her daily medicine and shake
0810: Play with the gathering children, do their hair, fix their clothes, play patty cake
0820: Walk back to Bleu with a child clutching onto each finger. Tell them all I will see them tomorrow , shake hands, give high fives, wave enthusiastically as I drive off, watch their huge smiles get farther and farther away in my mirrors...
0825: Make a cup of tea, have breakfast, get ready for the day. Head to the surgery center for 8, 9, 10 hours depending on what is in store for the day. Teach, advise, recover, run up and down stairs, practice my Assamese, give vaccines, mediate, play with patients, etc
7pm: Come home, sleep, repeat.

If it is Sunday then we could say:
0930: Start food preparation
1000: Have everything on the stove
1145: Head to Lakhtokia and serve some lunch
1pm: Hang out with Sima which may include: painting nails, dancing, practicing English, drinking chai,  henna, meeting every single neighbor, sitting and staring at each other, etc.
2pm: Clean up the dishes, the aftermath of Sunday meals is pretty intense
3pm: Melt into bed and read/watch a movie

When it rains here it can feel like normality and routine are crippled. The roads fall apart, they flood, mud becomes thick, power outages are frequent and it sometimes seems like everything is just supposed to pause. But that isn't always an option. Moms still need their morning medicine to fight an illness that could claim their life, leaving their daughter an orphan. They need their protein shakes to help boost their immune system and put on weight. Children still need to be checked on, surgeries still need to take place, and on Sundays bellies need to be fed. So sometimes I ride my scooter in the rain, sometimes volunteers brave the mud, trying not to slip and drop the huge vessels of food. We huddle under umbrellas and far too small awnings passing time, hoping the downpour lets up. When it doesn't (I may be talking about this week) then we improvise.

I wish everything were always an ideal situation (don't we all), that routine remained perfectly organized no matter what the day throws at us but that is not reality. I worry watching kids hunker down in the mud, eating food. I think of how food and water borne illness increases during the rainy season in India and I know it doesn't come from the food we cook but instead from the watery, trash filled mud that runs rampant during this season. (This time last year I fought dysentery for almost a month after eating food at a rainy, muddy festival) There's not always running water available where we serve the food; the kids are supposed to clean their hands before they come to eat but it doesn't always happen. So we made do with what we were given last week because the other choice is not to come at all, for the first time in eight months, and really that is not an option. Rain or shine, is what they were promised and rain or shine is what they will get. When life is lived out in the open as it is in the slums, nature is inescapable.

The flooding here in the North East is severe, too many homes and whole villages have been destroyed in Assam and all the way down to Bangladesh. My road floods but it is nothing more than a minor inconvenience, we are lucky. A majority of people here do not know how to swim so when the floods come it results in many drownings as people can not rescue themselves if caught in water. The national parks which protect the rhinos and the wild elephants are inundated with water and the animals are fighting for their lives as well as people all over the area. Positive thoughts sent to this corner of the world would be much appreciated as people, villages and animals attempt to recover from this week. The rain seems to have lessened in the last 2 days but it is just the start of monsoon season here so I anticipate many more rainy Sundays, wet scooter rides early in the morning, power outages, and improvisation at the hands of mother nature.

(photo courtesy of Deb, taken on the road outside our building)

1 comment:

  1. Well I was sitting here sipping my own tea and frowning at the rain outside my office here in England, complaining that it's "ruining my plans"...and then I read your post and am reminded that I am safe and sound an nothing at all is ruined. My wet shoes will dry out. We can schedule another picnic. I am so, so lucky.

    So this cup of tea's for you and yours, wishing you all a safe, dry season x x

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