A Travellerspoint blog

India trip

Day 17

October 26

Got up early, early at 4:00 am. Got all our stuff packed up and loaded in the car. Our driver had just parked the car outside of our apartment so we were able to just walk down with our luggage. We got from Mungeli to Raipur it the amount of time Anil said it would take, a first in our travels every other time it has taken much longer to get some place. Since we were traveling so early there was much less traffic and the road was much better this time and we only made one wrong turn and it was at the beginning and didn't cost us but 5 minutes. It was amazing how much foot traffic there was at 4:30 in the morning. People were walking along the road. Many were women carrying pails for water from the local water pump areas. There were also a lot of men just sitting along the roadway. At least for the most part the animal traffic was down. Most were just sleeping along the side of the road. When we got to the airport our driver dropped us off and Glenn tipped him. For all the really tough driving we had him do, the late nights, the early mornings, the hideous road conditions Glenn tipped him as much as he could with what rupees we had left but not as much as we would have liked, about $40 US. But Glenn said he saw his face when he counted how much we gave him and smiled a huge smile. We wish we had more but we had to pay for so many other little things and hadn't got more money exchanged since Bhubaneshwar.

At the airport we did our little waiting game. We were arriving the same time and all the armed guard were. We got through checking in and security with no problem and actually found a place to sit for waiting. We even had an exceptional cappichino at a coffee shop while waiting. Unfortunately our plane was 40 minutes late but with no real plans for the day except resting it was not a big deal. The flight was uneventful and only 1 1/2 hours so no big deal at all. We got chicken sandwiches for breakfast and a very strange little muffin with candied fruit in it that I let Glenn have. It was better than nothing and much better than our second train ride's food! Our new driver met us after baggage claim and got us safely to our hotel.

We are in a nice hotel where we will rest and spend the day. We both wish we had brought our swimsuits as they have a nice pool and we would have time today to swim. Oh well. Glenn is crashed on the bed while I am journalling and reading. We got a little fruit basket delivered which we devoured. We got it because we are VIPs, well, duh! lol! Anyway I am going to clean up since we didn't do that at before 4:00 with cold water and drying with a hand towel when we knew we would have all day, a nice shower, full size towels and both cold and hot water! Ahhh, the luxuries of life!

Well, I just cleaned up but it is a couple hours or so later because I fell into a coma. Two nights of not much sleep can do that to a person. Oh wait, how about 2 plus weeks of going, going, going....yeah, that too. Anyway the shower was not the wonderful warm flow of water but a tepid spew but I am clean and tepid is the warmest water I have had in several days. Since our new dinner time seems to be 11:00 pm we are getting ready to get some lunch and yes, it is 5:30 pm but we are trying to work more on London time now and coincidentally it is noon in London right now.

We ordered fried chicken and french fries for lunch. It was like a squished piece of chicken but tasted soooo good and the fries were crisp and not mushy. We shared the order and diet cokes. Then Glenn cleaned up and I read some more.The down day has felt really good. The hotel was supposed to have internet but we haven't been able to get it working so I probably won't be able to post until London. Glenn is exchanging a few more dollars for rupees so we can tip our new driver and buy something for dinner at the airport - YUM! We are getting ready to watch a movie on the computer since every channel on the TV is either an Indian station or pay to watch.

We watched "Live and Let Die" as the next movie in our James Bond marathon. Then Glenn played Hearts on the computer and I read until I got too sleepy. We finished packing and got all ready. We are now at the airport and I just finished eating a chicken sandwich and McDonalds' fries at 1:00 in the morning! I must say it was pretty gosh darn good! We also had ice cream but hey, it's 7:00pm in London. We will board in about 30 or so minutes. Next time will be in London!

Posted by MaryDavis 06:06 Archived in India Comments (0)

India trip

Day 16

October 25

Slept well last night and took a nice cold shower this morning. We went and had a cup of coffee and then went to chapel where all the staff goes before they really start their day. Even though I didn't understand the words, it was mostly in Hindi, you feel the spirit of the place and the people. Anil introduced us to everyone and had Glenn say a few words. Everyone is very friendly.

We got a tour of the facility and while it would seem primitive to doctors in the US it is working here and working well. We basically went on patient rounds with Anil at first. Seeing all his different patients from the birthing area where a birth had just occurred, to ICU where there was a boy there sick from a scorpion sting, to a poor girl who had had huge infected abscess from a dirty injection from one of the quacks who then sent her somewhere else for 2 weeks and they did nothing. We also toured the rest of the facility. They have very ambitious plans and he is totally self funding. They are currently building a cancer center (very loose term, center, don't compare to anything we have. Think small brick building with screen windows, no AC but high tech equipment!). They are also working on nursing school quarters so they can house more students and expand the program. The facility here is amazing considering what they started with just 9 years ago which was pretty much nothing. Anil has really had a vision and made great strides. They even have an MRI here. He is making inroads with the people so they are coming here sooner and not as a last resort which was often too late. He is still fighting the battle of the villagers going to their local "healers" or as he calls them the quacks until they are so sick they have to come here.

They are also running a school for children ages 3-14. It is over capacity and they had to turn away about 90 children. They have a teaching staff of 21 but I am not sure of exactly how many children they have but I am thinking it is over 500. Anil took over the school fairly recently because it only had 90 students and was not supporting itself and the Bishop wanted to close it. They have building projects going on there too. All in all a very busy place. It was quieter than usual since it is festival time and Anil said people will put off coming in if at all possible till the festival is over. The kids are also out of school right now so we didn't get to see it in action.

I have just finished giving blood. They are always in need of blood and they were excited I have 0+ and was willing to give. They will not take my blood in the US because I keep traveling to place like India and Costa Rica. You have to wait so long after traveling for the US to accept your blood but here it is not a problem. They have a very hard time get the Indian people to give blood because they work hard manual labor and think it will weaken them so they can't work. Some would rather see a family member die than give blood so I was very happy I could do it.
After a bit of a rest and drinking lots of water I went down to get something to eat for lunch. They have a full time cook for the medical students and she had prepared curry for lunch. As I was eating on of the students said there is something going on in surgery and we should go see what. So I finished eating and went with her to surgery. I found Glenn was already there and suited up. I put scrubs on and a cap and mask and got to see a cesarean section and an appendectomy. Anil did the back to back and then exclaimed that this was a slow day. Usually if he is doing surgeries he will do 8 to 10 a day.

After that we went with Anil back to his office where he contacted the Chief Medical officer for the state. He was supposed to have met with him earlier but had been in surgery. So we piled in his Jeep and headed to the CMO's office. Anil was asking what he needed to do to be able to give immunizations. Right now he is not allowed which seems very ironic that they can do surgery but not give immunizations. He has to file the proper paperwork and other rather silly bureaucratic mumbo jumbo. He did the political tap dance very well.

After we got back came back to our place and called people back home. Sorry for waking you up, Laura but I knew otherwise I wouldn't get to talk to you today. I was good to connect back home even if it was early in the morning for you westerners.

A bit later every met at the area where they do maintenance for several rousing games of badmitton. It was fun even if I hadn't played since I was young. When the guys played they were cutthroat! It was fun and entertaining. We played for over an hour until it was time to go to Anil's for dinner. All the doctors, the head nurse and all the volunteer doctors-in-training plus us went to his house for dinner. We had a good time talking and singing karaoke. He had hundreds of songs in multiple languages. Everyone laughed a lot and we were there till late. So it is now 12:30 and we are just home and packing up. We will be leaving at 4:30 to drive to Raipur to the airport to catch our flight to Delhi. We are not going to clean up before because we have a hotel waiting for us for the day and we can clean up when we get there. So once again, good night! (Or good afternoon if you are reading this right after I post it!)

Posted by MaryDavis 11:44 Archived in India Comments (0)

India trip

Day 15

October 24

Not a bad night's sleep. Used our towels as a top sheet and were comfortable. About 6:00 the power went out for about 5 minutes and when it came back on the AC did not. Luckily we have 2 good ceiling fans so we stayed comfortable. At 7:00 there was a knock on our door and it was 3 of Glenn's friends from childhood who had lived in the Indian community near the compound. Bilhan had told them Glenn was in town so they dropped by. More remembering and catching up on each other. They were also so excited to see Glenn. After they left we showered, sort of, with the cold water that was available and got our stuff packed up.

As we were driving to the compound we saw Bilhan coming toward us on the back of a friend's motorcycle. He got in our car and we went to the president's house. It is in disrepair and the grounds were all over grown. Bilhan said only part of it was being used and then not very often as one of the president's sons is mainly in Delhi and the other is elsewhere. Glenn and Bilhan shared memories of coming there as kids and we walked around the grounds. Originally we were going to have breakfast at the compound but all his family was elsewhere so we went back to our hotel and had a marginal breakfast of both undercooked and yet burned toast and jam sandwiches. Oh well, it was food so we ate and headed out to Diptipur.

The road there was again stellar, okay it was bumpy as all get out, but we made it there in 2 hours. We were greeted by Bilhan's brother-in-law and we went in and had tea. We toured the grounds there and saw where Glenn was raised as a little bitty kid. We also went to the hospital where he was born which was right across the street from their bungalow. They talked about the problems faced by Diptipur and the closing of the hospital. We went back to the house and had lunch and more talking. We left Diptipur about 3:15.

Our drive to Mungeli has made me feel like Mr. Toad on his wild ride. Think of 5 hours and counting of the Runaway Mine train at 6 Flags, only with very large trucks coming toward you and more bumps and jerks. We have seen 3 more elephants on the road and lots of lights and festivities as this is the last night of the 9 day Hindu festival. Right now we are parked at the side of the road while our driver checks out one of our tires that had picked up a long spring. Not sure if he is replacing the tire or not. I am sitting in the car but Glenn is outside with the driver. Just looked back and it looks like the guys at the tire place or checking it out. Oh well, the fun never ends. As we have been driving I keep thinking of if Kris were here. She would be yelling, "Holy Moley! Oh, my! Eeeek!" and much more that I won't type because you never know who might read this. Kris, this road is wilder than Medano pass that we went 4 wheeling in Colorado! Hopefully we will make it there soon. I hear the tire being put back on. At least we were near a tire place. Will finish this up when we get where we are going.

We are here!!!! After 8 hours!!! Our driver did take a wrong turn at some point so we added time for that plus the tire, the very heavy traffic, waiting to pay tax at different stations and parading elephants. It was hard at times since the driver doesn't speak much English but we got by. We were met by Anil, who is a doctor here at the hospital and several people here doing medical training. They were all thrilled to see us and had even fixed dinner which we ate. Our meal times have been so messed up! We talked for a bit and then got up to our room which is actually a small 2 bedroom apartment. We have internet which I guess you could tell by the fact that this is being posted! Now it is midnight so I think I shall call it a day!!!!

Posted by MaryDavis 11:37 Archived in India Comments (0)

India trip

Day 14

October 23

I didn't mention last night because it was after posting, but we called my brother, Gary, and wished him a happy birthday and he was so surprised that we called from India. It was good to talk to him. Every time we talk to someone back home it feels good to make that connection. Then I think about how hard it must have been on Glenn's parents to not have that option. Any communication with family and friends in the States was by snail mail because that was the only option available except a telegram and that was for really big news, like a birth.

Today we got up early again, but not quite as early, and got cleaned up. Our laundry wasn't quite dry to I helped it along with the hair dryer and laid it on the bed to finish while we ate breakfast. Breakfast was good and they have an amazing juice blend that has grape juice and I don't know what else but it was thicker and yummy! I opted for coffee today instead of chai which we have had most mornings and it was good to have it after so long. Glenn did some emails and contacted the people we are going to go see in Bolangir. We headed out for our road trip there through the state of Odisha where Glenn was born.

Our drive took much longer than we had anticipated. The road was good in some places and other places.....well, let's just say Tulsa roads are looking mighty fine! They were rutted, chug holed, partially paved and gravely messes. Our poor driver was dodging holes and hills all over the place. It took us almost 7 hours to travel here. There were no places to stop to go to the bathroom (for women-men just pee off the road). So I was really needing to go by the time we got here. Luckily I made it. We found the compound with no problem. Bilhan was there to greet us and very happy to see us. He and Glenn reminisced about living in the compound and we went on a walking tour as they talked about what was and wasn't there when they were little. We visited for quite awhile and saw the church and houses where they lived. The Bishop now lives where Glenn's family lived and he is out of town right now so we didn't get to visit with him as Glenn had hoped.
Later we went to Bilhan's office and met his staff and talked about their ministry here. They are really doing a lot for the community and surrounding villages. Everything from women's education in food handling to helping widows with no family to providing tuition to children for their schooling. He has a staff of 7 which is down from 14 due to lack of funding. They do all their work through donations.

We then went to see Narendras, the Davis' family cook while they were here. He was so excited to see little Glenn! Glenn pulled out his computer and showed him a picture that he had of his family that was taken in 1970. He grinned and pointed and just stared at the picture. His son, daughter-in-law and granddaughters were there and he had all of the come look at the picture. His granddaughter laughed. We walked over to his old house which is the one Glenn remembers and then headed back to Bilhan's. There we talked for a long time and then had an excellent curry dinner. Bilhan's nieces were there and sat and talked to us for a long time too. One of his nieces was so excited to learn that we were on Facebook and asked for our names so she could friend us. Bilhan's brother came shortly before we left but we got to see him and talk to him too. Everyone asked about all the kids; John, Bruce and Carolyn, and about Glenn's folks. They were all so happy to hear how everyone was doing. It was a fun evening of stories and laughing.

Bilhan had called someone he knew when we first got there and said we needed help with a hotel. He made our reservation for us and came with us to our hotel. It is a large room with well worn carpet, no towels (we got some when we asked) and no toilet paper (still waiting on it but at least I brought lots of tissues). At least it has a bed but no top sheet. We will sleep well because we are so tired. Bilhan is coming with us to Diptipur tomorrow. It will be good to have him along and for Glenn to have more time to spend with him. Needless to say no internet, so will post later. Good night!

Posted by MaryDavis 11:33 Archived in Iran Comments (0)

India Trip

Day 13

October 22

Early morning wake up! Glenn's alarm went off at 5:15 for us to hurriedly get dressed and meet our driver and guide to go see sunrise on the Ganges. We were still very tired. We quickly got dressed and then drove to where we were last night for the ceremony. We got in a boat rowed by a little wizzened man. There were people bathing in the river with is very polluted and icky but to them it is holy. There are 83 different Ghats, or as I said last time steps or rather step areas, and each one is for a different god. They are all one after another and we saw quite a few. It was actually peaceful out on the river and the sunrise was pretty. There were a lot of tourists out on boats but all but one were just row boats so not a lot of noise. We also saw where they were cremating several bodies. They build large pyres by the river and place the body on it and light it. Our guide said it takes about 2 to 3 hours for the body to be reduced to ashes. Then they put the ashes in the river. We walked back through the oldest part of town. The streets were too narrow for cars but there were still bikes and motorcycles.

Back at our hotel, we cleaned up and packed back up again. We ate breakfast out on the terrace just outside our room. It over looks the Ganges and from up here it just looks muddy not as poluted as it is. We are both running on fumes now so will try to rest for the hour it takes to get to our next site and the hour it takes to get to the airport from that site.

We didn't rest because our guide used the time to tell us the story of Buddha. We went to Sarnath where Buddha gave his first sermon after enlightenment. The was a temple we went through that was built in the early 1900s. Then there were the ruins of the original temple and and monastary that the Muslims destroyed after they came to the area. It was neat to walk around the ruins. We also went into a museum that held the artifacts that the British archeologists found when they excavated Sarnath. After we finished there we headed to the airport.

We are now experienced India air travelers and know the rather odd routine that they have for processing and moving people around. So as the experienced and dare I say more enlightened ones, we helped those that were less experienced and wandering lost in the vast and crowded wilderness of the Varanasi airport. They have certain places that you wait for different things during the process and you can't move from that area until they decided it is time. Of course they really don't communicate this well or very much at all. We learned after our first trip from Dehradun airport to Jaipur airport. One other couple exclaimed that their process was just plain screwy after we told them what was going on. Anyway our flight was delayed 1 1/2 hours but that was no big deal after our train experience. We arrived in Bhubaneshwar close to 9. Our guide met us and took us to our car. Once again I am not sure our driver speaks much English which might be a problem since we won't have the guide any more. Our guide also took us to his office where were able to exchange dollars for rupees since we were getting low. Our hotel here is nice. It is modern and very clean. We did laundry in the sink since we have a hair dryer to finish the items off in the morning. We just needed socks and underwear and it is too early for Christmas so we just had to wash what we had. (Family joke about the Christmas thing...that's what you always get for Christmas) We ordered a cheese pizza to share as we were hungry but not terribly so. It is hard to be certain since it was dark as we were driving in but Bhubaneshwar seemed cleaner and was definitely better in the driving and traffic arena. Will let you know more about it tomorrow.

Posted by MaryDavis 11:27 Archived in India Comments (0)

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