from Pune to Jamkhed

So you pronounce it either Poona or Poonay. Still undecided.

Arrived at Pune airport at about 430 AM. it was still dark out and very quiet, which was nice. I sat on the curb and waited for John to arrive and thought about how I would have absolutely no way of getting in touch with him right then and it would be a total bummer if somehow I got stuck here. I also thought, it wouldn’t have been so bad to have to spend the day somewhere in Pune and maybe I could track down the German. (see previous blog)

My purpose though was to be fulfilled and I happened to look up and there was John Pothen standing in front of me like poof! Whoa.

Our first mission, which we had to accept, was to get to the hospital where John’s colleague had surgery the week prior and where he inadvertently left his passport. The hospital wasn’t really open per se and we were told to wait until the cashiers were there at 9. John and I walked around trying to find tea while our driver slept in the car. There was nothing open so we just went back to the car and slept. I dont remember waking up but next thing I remember is sitting outside with a cup of coffee in my hand. How did that get there? The cashiers told John to come back at 10 when a supervisor was coming so we walked off to find something to eat. My stomach wasn’t quite sure what time it was so I sat and watched him eat and we talked about the city and the culture and the project he was working on.

Back at the hospital, JP finally acquired the passport and so we were off for a 4 hour journey to Jamkhed. On the highway, he said, try to stay awake so you can see the countryside. It’s beautiful. I laughed. Um sure I’ll do that… as my eyes closed.

I stayed at the Comprehensive Rural Health Project in Jamkhed. You can find out more about it at http://www.jamkhed.org. The facilities are impressive for the most part, and the people there are doing some really good work. My first day there was spent recovering from planes, trains and automobiles – well no trains other than the airport shuttle – and taking a long almost hot shower. Then it was dinner, meeting some of the staff, praying and singing with JP and then off to bed. I was almost ready for bed but couldn’t fall asleep for a few hours.

Good thing the birds were so loud in the morning or I’m not sure I would have woken up. The birds were incredibly ridiculously loud. I’ve never heard such cacophony in my life. Good stuff.

So it was off visiting a village with the mobile health team, making house calls – mostly to pregnant women to be lectured about what to eat. Not too much different from what happens in our society. People always have things to tell you about whatever ails you. not that pregnancy is an ailment, but you know what I mean. yea I have a cough – have you tried blah blah blah? yea I’ll try eating more fiber. and so on.

The social worker who walked around with us was a rock star. Her English was great and she explained everything more or less. There was a rather heated debate going on at one point and I couldn’t imagine they were still discussing milk products the way they were carrying on, but that’s what she said they were talking about, so I didn’t pry.

I was a little disappointed that I got separated from JP because I did want to see him in action with the people and whatnot, but it seemed to get divided into a women’s group and a men’s group. So I figured if we were visiting pregnant girls, I didn’t really need to go visit men for like prostate checkups or what-have-you. I’m assuming they just checked blood pressure…

The next day I visited the hospital and walked the rounds with two doctors. There had been a patient with a snake bite – some kind of poisonous viper! They weren’t sure she was going to make it when she first got there, but she was doing very well by the next day. She was quite young and a mother of a nursing infant. There was some discussion about how to feed the baby as she couldn’t nurse for a few months. It must have been very scary for her.

There was also a young girl with some kind of skin problem across her face and hands. I wasn’t sure if they said it was from a disease or burns. She was a real cutie. She smiled as I caught her eye and then quickly looked away. I wanted to ask what had happened but there was quite a flurry with another patient not getting the right meds and general chaos ensued, and I didn’t get a chance to ask.

That afternoon we ventured into town. We walked up and down the main street with countless shops filled with all kinds of bangles. How do these people make a living on bangles??? And then there was a department store – it was like a sale day or something because it was a zoo. Lots of people milling about, and apparently that wasn’t even half bad as it can get. Karen, a nurse from Maryland who also had been with Mission to the World in Cambodia, wanted to find some scarves or shawls and we were able to find a few there. Then we went to get tea near where JP gets his haircut. At some point, a random stranger started asking him questions – I’m sure the 3 of us looked quite bizarre. Like a joke – a Korean, a white woman and an Indian walk into a chai stall…

Back at the ranch, I was invited to go for a walk to The Lake with Conor and Janine. I have to admit I was thinking The Lake in question would be a glorified puddle but I’m always happy to admit when I’m wrong due to general ignorance. The walk was really quite lovely too, as the sun was starting to set and the weather was very mild.

We passed a gorgeous looking house, at least from the outside, which made me really happy. It’s what I would want if I ever get around to buying or building a home for myself. A big courtyard with an iron gate out front, then this crazy color of orangey red. It looked like a fun place to come home to.

The Lake was lovely and serene. The sun was coming down and casting long shadows across the water. Men were driving their oxen home from a long day and birds soared across the sky. It was like something out of a romance novel except for the romance part.

We walked back through fields and I still can’t get over how green the countryside was. As dry and dusty as it seems, there were acres of the greenist grass I’ve ever seen. Some of it were crops of different sorts too, but just amazingly colorful.


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