Chowpatty Stares and Stiffed...
Trip Start May 31, 2006
18Trip End Jul 11, 2006
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Since I left you last I have been taking a little break from the medical aspect of the trip to enjoy some of the things that Bombay has to offer. Again as I've said we live up in the north part of the city well away from the tourist regions of South Mumbai. A bunch of us spent yesterday afternoon down by Chowpatty Beach. Chowpatty is pretty large for city beach standards. It is filled with Indians all relaxing and enjoying the cool breeze off the water. They sell all sorts of sodas, food have fair rides...etc. It's really interesting for all of us to walk around because we attract such a crowd, especially the tall girls. Indians rarely see the tall white women and they are totally enthralled by it. All I can think that is going on in their heads is Bart strolls up to the podium in Blazing Saddles and blurts out "WHERE ALL THE WHITE WOMEN AT!"...it really is quite a scene as they are totally surrounded by the kids and large groups of younger guys just sit around us and stare
The beach although relaxing is quite disturbing as well. It is laden with trash and homeless people, especially kids. That seems to be the trend in India...all the types of people everywhere...poor kids nagging on you everywhere. It really gets to you, although at the beach all they wanted to do was get their picture taken. They LOVE seeing the picture on the screen of our digital cameras. Just like in Belize I think that many of these kids have rarely seen their own faces in a mirror. This one guy who was about 50 with his daughters even tried to pawn his (really cute) daughter off on us. He called her Sweetie and told us that she was interested in a nice American. I took my picture with them and actually ended up talking to them for a little. Everyone is just so friendly and loves talking to all of us. I also really noticed a difference in the people in South Mumbai compared to North Mumbai. They are definitely way more used to seeing foreign people in the south and therefore are a little less awed. I also have to thank little Miss Amy Sanghvi who sent me to her uncle's sweet shop right near Chowpatty. Frankie, Courtney and I just happened to stroll into it (Amy did tell me about it and to look out for it...I didn't just randomly walk into a shop and ask "are you Amy Sanghvi's uncle?")
So as I've been saying I haven't been having the greatest of clinical experiences so far here. The other groups seem to have been having more luck than mine so hopefully when we do some of our other rotations things will turn around a bit. Everything does seem to be hit or miss though...but we are all making the best of it. So remember how I was at the slum clinic this week? The other three in our group were assigned to a clinic in a wealthier area and spent time with a General Practitioner there. It was interesting to see and hear about the differences in the clinics. His was MUCH larger and in three hours the guys saw 5 patients where as ours saw 60+. This again illustrates that VAST difference between rich and poor here. The wealthy clinic Doc, Dr. Apte is a total goof and loves to go out and have a good time. After Chowpatty many of us met up with him and their clinical group at a cool Irish Pub (yes, they are even in India) in Bandra. It was actually in a hotel and when you entered in the front door of the hotel they let you through this random swinging door that was part of the wall...sort of like a secret door, but not. The place was vintage Irish pub in looks but they had NO GUINEESS or any other beers besides Kingfisher (the Indian Budweiser) and Heinkiken. It is a big Karioke bar and the songs were a mix of Indian tunes that everyone sang and Western songs...with two rounds of Summer of '69 by Bryan Adams
So Wednesday was my last day of doing medicine this week as I took the last two days as "personal days'. I mean it is my last summer...give me a break. Wednesday afternoon actually ended up being quite interesting. We went to the Sarvodaya Hospital just north of where we are. It is mainly an HIV/AIDS hospital but it also has a TB ward. Indian society still does not understand HIV or AIDS and many people still associate it with being Homosexual. Homosexuality is actually illegal here, although there are many social programs in place for LBGT people. It all seems sort of under the radar. We actually even had a tough time getting a rickshaw to take us as the first few wouldn't even go anywhere near the hospital
So a few interesting things about India for today:
1. EVERYONE answers their mobiles wherever and whenever. In lecture the docs answered while they were talking, in clicic the doc's answer when they are seeing a patient, in stores, in movies...EVERYWHERE. Indians, rich and poor, are attached to their phones.
2. Instead of saying yes (although they do say yes), many people do this head nod thing that is really quite funny
Well I am off to the beautiful southern state of Goa for a weekend of relaxation. A few of us booked a weekend at one of the Taj resorts for some much needed clean air, beach and relaxation. It will be nice to get away from the pollution for a few days. I'll have an update for all of you when I return on Monday. Enjoy the first games of the World Cup! Go USA (and England)!