Sunday, April 27, 2014

Week 15: Spice Market and First World Problems

     Saturday (April 19)'s big activity was Audrey and me going into Delhi to hunt down the infamous Spice Market, something I had been looking forward to for a while. The Delhi Spice Market is definitely a sensation for your nose and eyes, but more so for your nose. As Audrey so aptly desribed: Imagine you are in a giant port-a-potty where multiple people start cooking Indian food then someone starts a load of laundry.  The streets are not lined with booths like you’d imagine at a flea market, but rather everyone’s shop spills out into the street. You walk along and pass giant opened burlap bags of lentils, cashews, walnuts, peanuts, turmeric, nutmeg, cardamom, cumin seeds, fenugreek, ginger, tea, mixes (like garam masala), anise, dried apricot...and so much more. Each shop is the same, yet different. In some of them, you walk into the narrow store and there are prepackaged bags of every spice imaginable linining the wall in little labeled cubbies.  In some, there are strictly the burlap bags and the owner will measure out, weigh, and bag the spices before your eyes.  Some stores even have burlap bags of laundry detergent, should you need to purchase some of that (thus the laundry part in Audrey’s description).  Needless to say, I bought some spices; I was not about to leave this glorious road without some.  The price kind of made me wince at first-650 rupees. But then I realized the amount was just under $11 for 100g of cumin seeds, 100g of fenugreek, 100g of garam masala, 100g of channa masala, 100g of kitchen king mix, and 100g of blueberry tea. I tried getting all of the standard spices used in every Indian dish because I knew I wouldnt be able to easily get some of those at home, and they were much cheaper here than I could purchase them in the US for anyways.  Aside from the spices, the street itself had a very “India” feel:  carts, cars, rickshaws, and people were all rushing around at a pace and density that would make New York City jealous.  Horns blared, people yelled, men hoisted sacks onto their shoulders... all in the normal coordinated chaos of India.   And I loved it.  I even got some street food on our way back to the metro station: an interesting egg wrap of tomatoes and potatoes.

     Monday brought a new week, and a new placement opportunity.   Caleb and I were able to go to the Mobile Clinic project, which is a mobile clinic ran out of an Ambulance by an organization called HelpAge India.  The ambulance goes to 10 different small villages and slums in/near Faridabad Monday-Friday, seeing 2 places each day.  Each village knows which day the clinic comes, and many of the patients are regulars who HelpAge has been providing free services for over many years.  HelpAge India exists to provide the elderly (those over 60) who are living in poverty with primary care and medications for free.  Of course I loved everything about this immediately. Normally the ambulance would only go to one village in the morning, but we went to 2 since they are so close. The 2 sites were small villages outside of the busy part of Faridabad, and took a little while to get to.  It was interesting to see the difference in the impoverished between a rural village and a city slum.  While the rural village is farther away from markets and hospitals, it seemed that the standard of living was slightly better out here: people seemed heartier, and their teeth were not as decayed.  I believe one can actually stay healthier in an outskirt village since they are not living right beside open sewage and an abundance of trash.  Food is also probably more easily grown since there is land they can tend in the village, but I did not see any gardens where we were.   It was actually a slow day, and we only saw about 20 patients before heading back to the HelpAge India home base for a lunch break.  After break, we went to a different site, which was a slum colony inside Faridabad. We saw more people at this site, and I was able to take a few blood pressures for the doctor and ask more questions about the patient and the given medications.  Summer is the season for amplified bacterial growth, so those not receiving refils for pain medication or hypertension were usually complaining of loose bowels and intestinal disease.

      The reason this entry is so late is due to the wifi being out all week.... And on top of being bored with no wifi, the heat is getting intense.  The weather is consistently in the 100s during the day, and only cools to the high 80s overnight. In the next few weeks, we will be dealing with the 110s. With no AC. Yikes! Talk about First World Problems. We made it to cafe's a few times for wifi, but with the 9.5 hour time difference it has been impossible to communicate with people instantaneously (as those of you who sent me messages then waited 24 hours for a reply, then replied back and waited another 24 hours know). 

     After Monday at the mobile clinic I did  not go to to placement since I got my poster supplies for my project! I spent a few days drawing out hand washing and tooth brushing tutorials and making reminder posters of ways to stay healthy. It was quite a task and I was pretty tired of the arts and crafts after 12 posters lol.  I also got my lesson plans all laid out, and worksheets created to be printed.  Tomorrow I will go with Dr. Prabhat to print them and also to buy the multivitamins.  SO excited!

Much love,


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