A big part of the Indian "experience" is had just outside the hospital complex gates, on the main shopping/bazarr area called Ghandi Street. I am loving the fact that I can go buy 4 amazing Indian outfits (all for a good cause- none of the clothes I brought for work actually cover my ankles, as they should) for a grand total of $5, but after reading in the Indian newspaper about "Eve Teasing", we have all agreed to 1. not shop alone, and 2. leave Ghandi street before dusk.
Even though the street is chock full of people, including families with babies, until well into the night, it is traditionally "innappropriate" for a female to be "alone" in public- I thought that was ridiculous, as there are 100s of women walking all over all day long- but I realized they are always in groups of 2 or 3, even as they walk to school. "Eve Teasing" is basically a male/group of males who harrass young women who seem "alone". Well, today, with 2 of us, in broad daylight, and at the hour that the street is teeming with hospital staff as well, we were simply running by a store to pick up a shirt we had tailored (you have to ask a tailor to attach sleeves to your shirts, even though all shirts have sleeves here, you dont attach them until the shirt is bought?)
It was only 5pm, not even close to dark, but I stopped in a shoe store on the way to the tailor, but did not buy anything as they did not have my size (all of these "stores" are simply open booths on the street). As we continued down the street, I noticed one of the shoe salesman followed us to another shop, and then another, another, then another which was actually an air conditioned inside store, then to the tailor shop (the tailors are these 2 very old, sweet english speaking men who we love) which is up an open flight of stairs on the street- I chose not to point this out to Kristen at first, because I thought she would freak out- and we were very much in public, surrounded by people of all kinds, and he was keeping his distance- sort of,
we went to a nearby store where we knew the man (having bought several shirts from him) and asked if he would tell the man to leave us alone, but when he looked up, the man walked off, but then reappeared. Then we headed to the infamous "4 full Indian outfits for 200 rupee" place I had found, the source of all of my ankle covering coolness, where not only do I know the men who work there (as I must be their best customer this week), but they were having a street sale so women of all ages were throwing elbows and yells- on our way in I decided I had to tell Kristen, at which time she totally freaked out, and started getting all belligerent saying "what, what!!! I'll beat him up!!! If he so much as touches me I'll hit him so hard he wont know what happened!!!!"
UUhhh, that was why I hadn't told her in the first place. So when I realized she was 1. dead serious, and 2. obviously considering going out there to do it, I knew I had to do something before the strongest little 90 lb American track star firecracker ran into the street to punch out this creep of an Indian dude- and thus get us subsequently acosted by an angry mob- so right then I just looked right at him, and he looked stunned, as I had pretended not to notice him until now- and screamed bloody murder for him to go away- so he got the message, but most people on the street could not discern my particular yell from all of the rummage-sale crazed ladies all around me!!! ( thankfully, women of all cultures go bazerk over a good sale)
The only other thing about Ghandi street that is hard to adjust to, is the beggars. Old women, old men, missing limbs, kids without functional legs scooting around on hands, anything you can imagine, is there. Beggars are so sad, but you immediately get used to simply ignoring them, as the locals do, because the locals frown greatly upon giving money to beggars because it perpetuates the practice, and makes parents keep kids (especially female) out of school in order to make money- speaking of girls, we had a pre- eclampsia patient lose a baby today, (long medical explaination, baby had no chance here in India so not quite as sad as it sounds, quite), and when the indian dr saw it was a "female baby", she sadly said "At least to these people losing a girl is much less of a heartache than if it had been a boy"- I find it so hard to rembember that so many cultures still consider females as lowly creatures, but somehow, knowing that was their culture, I still took some solice in the fact that this girl could see something positive, even if it was that, as she had carried the child for 25 weeks before falling ill.
As for whats going on in the rest of the world, Indian people are so much better at keeping up with and discussing current events and world politics than the average american, in my experience. I have been reading the paper everyday here- and their coverage of US and world politics is very interesting- its fun to see what makes the news here- cricket cricket cricket, Bhutto, cricket, Calcutta bazarr burned to ground, cricket cricket, Chinese soldiers keep incurring into India at the border, more cricket, Obama, Hillary (Sir Edmund Hillary that is, RIP), cricket, Hillary Clinton, cricket, crooked cricket umpires, multiple attempts on lives of Sri Lankan and Malaysian high officials (the Sri Lankan rebels are "Tamil Tigers"- I am living in Tamilnadu- Indian state of Tamils, with Sri Lanka a few miles off coast), cricket, Bush, Australian Open tennis, the evil evil Australian cricket team, AND the new Governor of Lousisiana being an Indian American guy!!!
honestly, I left out about 20 "crickets" and a lot of slurrs against Australians, if I were really trying to give an accurate appropriation of newpaper space, but Im sure you got the idea!!!
My next blog I will try to focus more on some amazing medial experiences, today I actually saw several things I had only read about, really things I guess you hope to ONLY read about, since we also saw a uterine rupture which happened at home, so overall it was a very sad obstetrics day, and I'd rather not go into detail about that, but as you read this be thankfull that most of you have quick access to emergency medical care, and even here in Vellore, where the medical care is on par with the US, only 25% of pregnant women deliver at the hospital, and often only come AFTER there is a complication, after seeing what I have seen today, I will seriously have to consider what I will say to future patients who want to birth at home or at a non-hosptial "birthing center". I can tell them about today, but I will never be able to do it the justice it deserves.