Saturday, June 8, 2013


My last post was a feeble attempt to describe a “day at the Rehab Institute.” The objective of this post is to give y’all a look around the Rehab Institute grounds. As such, it will be mostly comprised of photos. The Rehab Institute became my workspace, my safe haven, my musical playground, my landmark, my lunchroom, my battleground, and my victor’s podium. The last six weeks of my posting was spent at the Rehab Institute and it seemed that if I wasn’t asleep at home or out with friends, then I was here. Come to think of it, I was often meeting with friends at rehab. The rest of this post will be photos with captions. Enjoy the tour!

Thursday, May 23, 2013


I am writing this post, and those hereafter, from a very different place. Well, at least geographically speaking. My physical being is now stateside, but I’m afraid that large portions of my heart and mind are still lingering on the other side of the globe. Last Friday marked the one month anniversary of my return to Washington. I could try to explain why it has taken me over a month to finish out this blog, but frankly, the details are not really that important. What you need to know is that 1.) come hell or high water I will be completing this blog, 2.) it may take me a while and a few posts.

Monday, April 8, 2013


A catamaran is a sailing vessel with two hulls. The word catamaran, incidentally, comes from the Tamil word kattumaram meaning “tied wood.” Although originally the double-hulled design was met with much skepticism because it was based on geometry rather than physics, the concept is now widely used due to its speed, stability and ability to carry large loads.


As I mentioned in an earlier blog, Charlie celebrated her birthday here in India. Around the same time, we had the pleasure of joining two other birthday celebrations: Sunil and Patient Zero’s. Each birthday celebration was different and highlighted variances in how people celebrate birthdays in various parts of the world.


Easter Sunday was the source of many fond memories for me. I was too young to fully grasp the real reason my family celebrated Easter, but not too young to enjoy some family traditions. Easter Sunday meant sitting on my grandparent’s couch while my grandfather read the cousins Prince Bertram the Bad or Sir Kevin of Devon while the aunts and uncles hid brightly colored eggs around the yard. (If I had any say we would read Prince Bertram the Bad every time. I felt some sort of deep-seated connection to Prince Bertram. I felt he was so misunderstood. We were kindred spirits, I was sure of it. But I digress. That is another story for another day…) When I was a bit older and had some measure of fashion awareness (although, after a cursory glance at me, some might argue that I have never gained fashion awareness), Easter Sunday meant we could wear white shoes and our new dresses.


This was my Easter in India. Every year on Easter, CMC conducts a sunrise worship service. This chapel service is not held in an ornately decorated cathedral, or even in a modest chapel topped with steeple and spire. It is held on the natural amphitheater halfway up College Hill.


Every year the residents of Fitch Hostel host what they call “Hostel Day.” There are a number of hostels on the CMC college campus, but the Fitch Hostel residents have a special place in my heart. They are the young ladies of CMC who are studying to become physios and occupational therapists. Over the past three months I have had the pleasure, nay, the honor of working alongside many of the beautiful women of Fitch Hostel.

Friday, April 5, 2013


If someone asks me what languages I speak, I have to admit that I only speak one: English. If I’m trying to impress I will claim that I know bits and pieces of other languages but that usually just ends me up in a tangled mess of prevarication. However, after living in southern Indian for three months I feel I can proudly boast another language: English… Indian style.


Unlike other trips we had been on, this trip was planned without agenda. Our goal was to relax and enjoy. We had things in mind that we wanted to see: Paradise beach, the French Quarter, and maybe a little shopping, but our main goal was to enjoy a calm weekend with friends. Which is exactly what we did…


Our first order of business upon arriving in Pondicherry was to locate our accommodations and freshen up before setting out to see the city. After negotiating a fair price, we clambered into an auto and headed off to the French Quarter. Our hotel, Les Hibiscus, was simple yet elegant and exactly what we had hoped to escape to. At first the proprietor tried to tell us that there were no vacancies at the hotel, even after we told him who we were and that we had confirmed reservations. He soon pulled out his booking records in effort to prove to us that he had no room, which in turn, allowed us to point out our names in his book as the two who had filled his vacancies. Once confirmed, we were warmly welcomed and led through the lounge, out the side door, up a tight spiral stairway and eventually to our respective rooms.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


They say that "getting there" is often the best part of the journey, or that "it's not about the destination but the journey." I'm not sure if "getting there" was really the best part of the journey for us, but it was the most entertaining. It was the "getting there" that gave me yet another reason to love this country. Where else can one have such strange and entertaining experiences on a bus?

Thursday, March 28, 2013


After a small victory with designing a low cost sock aid, some of the PMR doctors asked me to help design some adaptive equipment to increase independence in bowel and bladder management for their tetraplegia patients. Right. “What have I gotten myself into?” was the first thought that ran through my head. I like a good challenge, especially one that promises increased independence for my patients. I was ready to tackle the project.


As I journey through life, I’ve met many people who I’d like to emulate in some way. I don’t have the time to write about everyone, nor do you have the energy to read about everyone, but I’ll highlight some as examples. Naturally, some of these people are my family members; the people I grew up with, seeing their lives and how they handled the situations of daily life. For instance, my dad: calm and collected even when the waters rush over his head, firmly anchored in the Truth of his Savior. My mom: not always calm and collected, but had a heart for her Savior that drove her to live for Him with abandon. My grandfather: frumpy and disheveled on the outside but tender and brilliant on the inside, with a hidden sense of humor to boot! Some of the people I’ve only met in person once or twice. For instance, Dr. Margaret Brand: who ended her life’s biography with “All I have need of Thy hand has provided, Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.” And Dr. Suranjan Bhattacharji: years of selfless service culminating with a charge to the next generation to seek those who need help and go light the world. This post is about his retirement from CMC.


One of the recommended tourist attractions in Mysore is Chamundi Hills. From the top of the hill, you stand to gain a great perspective of Mysore and the surrounding landscape. The prime real estate at the top of the hill is also home to a Hindu temple. We made our way to the top for the views and the intrigue of a unique descent. We had heard that there were one thousand steps that lead from the bottom of the hill to the top, and decided that we would see if we could find our way off the mount via the steps.

Monday, March 25, 2013


The analogy of a weaver’s loom has often been applied to life itself. It is the idea that while living life you don’t see the beautiful patterned product of both the pleasant and unpleasant things in life you trod though. This analogy has always made sense to me, but after a self-guided tour of the Mysore Silk Factory I have a new appreciation for the analogy.


My first experience at the Mysore Palace was watching a caravan of elephants lazily plod through the grounds. No big deal. My second experience at the Mysore Palace was watching my travel companions and I lazily circumnavigate the grounds looking for a way in. We were told to march “that way” by some locals. “That way” eventually got us to the main gate; however, we soon discovered that “that way” was the long way around. Live and learn. 


Much like the other open air markets I’ve been in here, the Mysore spice market is chock full of colorful life. I can’t exactly say I stumbled upon mass quantities of spices, but there seemed to be mass quantities of everything else consequently I didn’t notice the missing spices. It was in this market that I started noticing the unique textures of life in the market space.


My original plan when arranging my posting at CMC was to lay aside time at the end for recreational travel. I had not intended to do much traveling on the weekends during my posting as I wasn’t sure how feasible that would be. After arriving here and slipping into the routine of life as an international student, I realized that there was opportunity for weekend travel if I so desired. At the beginning, I took the first few weekends to settle in my new home or to travel close by (Chennai) to visit friends for the day. I adopted the CMC work schedule by working half days on Saturday, not because I had to (it is optional for international students) but because I really enjoy working here. That being said, I was dragged (almost kicking and screaming) to Mysore the second weekend of the month.

Monday, March 18, 2013


I promised that I would write about the All India Occupational Therapy Association (AIOTA) annual conference that I was privileged to attend earlier this month. This is the fulfillment of that promise. Hopefully I haven’t forgotten all that transpired that week.

Sunday, March 17, 2013


** Note to all my Tamil readers. Please forgive me for any misspellings or misunderstandings of your native language.

When asking for input on a name for this blog, my dad suggested something along the lines of “Say it Tamil.” His reason for the suggestion was, “You’re going to be saying ‘How do you say that in Tamil?’ frequently, ya know?” I should have listened to him.

Saturday, March 2, 2013


I have been in Trivandrum, Kerala, since last Sunday morning. For those of you just tuning in, I came here for the annual national All Indian Occupational Therapy Association conference. When I first learned that the national OT conference was going to be held at the end of February, I decided that I should go if all the right parties permitted. It was a chance in a lifetime to attend the national conference of another OT association. I will be dedicating a post to the conference at a later date for those interested in knowing more about the happenings there. This is about Trivandrum.


Saturday, February 23, 6:00pm: Charlie and I arrive at Jewel’s house for dinner. Jewel is an occupational therapist from the same batch as Neeraj and Alok. She is posted in neuro for her bond period at CMC. Shortly after moving to Mrs. George’s house we found out that Jewel was pretty much our neighbor. Since then we have used her as a reference point when people ask us where we live… “Do you know where Jewel lives? Well, we are further down that road and to the right.” She and Anumeha, a physio student, invited us to dinner on Saturday. The food was incredible and the fellowship was wonderful. Meha’s friend, Jerry, joined us halfway through the evening to add a small male perspective to our conversations. I had come to dinner packed and ready to head off to the All Indian Occupational Therapy Association national conference in Trivandrum, Kerala. My train was scheduled to depart Katpadi station (Vellore) at 9:30pm. Although not my preference, I ate and ran.


I spent last summer working as an agricultural research assistant in Eastern Washington. I spent many hours sitting in solitude, ripping open plastic bags that contained soil samples from research projects conducted decades ago, and dumping them into a huge pit of organic matter. To liven things up I would occasionally be attacked by a flock of swallows who were none too pleased that I was hanging out and kicking up dust in their neighborhood. I had a lot of time to think while I was out dumping soil. Though it was not a job that I sought out to further my career in OT, it was a job that taught me a lot about life. It was at this job that I met Jason.


(This was written on February 25, 2013)

Last week I started my posting at the CMC Rehabilitation Institute. I am working on the first floor with mostly patients with spinal cord injuries. I was told that I would enjoy my posting at rehab, and so far this has proven to be the case. With the OT confidence and energy I gained while working in OPD the previous week, I was ready with plenty of vim and vigor to meet patients and get to work. I was briefly oriented to the facility and then left with one of the OTs on the first floor. She had been told that I was interested in working with patients with spinal cord injuries, and suggested that I spend the day observing and then begin the next day. Little did she know that “spend the day observing” is a phrase that I have come to loath here in India, and I intended to do some “hands-on observing.”


(Written on Sunday, February 24th)

The pace of life here in India is slower, but somehow that doesn’t translate into more free time for me to relax or keep up with my blog. Seems as though I am about a week behind on things. I’m going to try to do some catch up this week as I am not at CMC doing my typical routine. This morning I arrived in Trivandrum, Kerala, for the All India Occupational Therapy Association conference. More on this later, first I need to cover the events of last weekend and the past week.

Friday, February 22, 2013


Last week Charlie and I made our first public saree debut. It was epic. Not just because we were two white girls in sarees, but because of the event surrounding the reason for donning sarees. The occasion was an Indian wedding. Somehow we managed to snag an invitation to the reception and wedding ceremony of one of the physios who currently works at the CMC Rehabilitation Institute. We had purchased sarees with the hope that we would be able to wear them at a wedding here. Cultural (diving in), ya know? And to a wedding dressed in sarees we went!


I have written a few lines about travel in India and few lines about being the only blue eyes on the bus. I’d like to describe in a little more detail what it is like to travel by bus during “rush hour” in India. Before I give much detail, I’m sure you immediately imagine a crowded bus bumping along at a fairly high rate of speed. You would not be wrong. Imagining this situation and being in this situation, however, are two very different things. I’d like to try and transport you to a place of “being” in this situation.

Saturday, February 16, 2013


Last week I mixed things up. I left CHAD. This may or may not be a surprise to some. I loved my CHAD posting, but my love was fickle and conditional. I loved my days with Sam when we were out in the villages MacGyver-ing up treatment plans and adaptations for patients in the remote areas of Vellore. I struggled, a lot, through my days when I was simply an amateur photographer posing as an occupational therapist. Although I loved seeing the village life, and was challenged to capture it in time, I didn’t come here for that purpose. I once again felt the chains bind me. Last Friday I had had enough. I changed my posting to OPD (Out-Patient Department) back at the hospital. I had spent some time observing there, and this blog will give you a brief overview of life in OPD. My return to OPD was not just as an observer, but as a student therapist.


People here ask me a lot of questions about my home. What is the weather like? What is the food like? What are the people like? What do I like to do for fun at home? And so on. Most of the questions are easy to answer, but some of them a more complicated because they are asking specific questions about my home. I don’t know where my home is. I was born and raised in eastern Washington, but moved away to pursue higher education and a job. I ultimately landed in western Washington and have been living there for the past few years. During graduate school I found lodging with my gracious sister and tolerant brother-in-law. Their home was my abode... that is until I moved back to eastern Washington for an internship placement last fall. My few belongings are scattered hither, thither and yon; some in eastern Washington at my Dad’s place, some in western Washington at my sister’s place and some here in India. Although my dad and his wife, and my sister and her husband have both widely opened their doors to me, I cannot call either house my home. They are homes that I am comfortable in. Homes I enjoy staying in. But they are the homes of others that I temporarily reside in. I am a vagabond.


As a young kid, I have memories of almost dreading dinner time. I love eating and I love my family so it was not the food or the fellowship that soured my soul. It was the manners. My dear mother had her work cut out for her when it came to me and my eating habits. I would argue that I wasn’t the most slovenly person around the dinner table, but clearly my manners were not up to my mother’s standards. She was bound and determined to make a lady out of me. I don’t really remember a dinner with my mom where she wasn’t giving me discrete (or not so discrete) visual and verbal cues to sit straighter, lift my hand higher, chew quieter, or sit farther away from the table, or (my personal favorite) to stop playing with my food. Every time she would flash me a signal I would think, “Shoot dang! I really should remember this by now. Why can’t I have one dinner where I get it right?” Perhaps I was taking the “Einstein approach” by not committing to memory the information that is readily available. I knew her commands would haunt me at any dinner table, so why bother actually learning to follow them without cues. Regardless of the reason, dinners were a challenge for me.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Charlie and I had originally intended to go to Pondicherry this past weekend, but with our lackadaisical approach to weekend travel we found ourselves without accommodations. Lesson learned: do a little planning next time! Instead of exploring Pondi, we decided to explore our own backyard from a different perspective. We climbed College Hill.

College Hill is a small hill on CMC property that offers lovely views of the surrounding landscape. Alok, being an avid trekker, agreed to take a few of us to the top of the hill for breakfast on Sunday morning. I wanted to see the sunrise from the peak. ‘Twas a little selfish of me, but I think most would agree that trekking in the cool morning air is far better than catching a few more zzz’s and trekking in the muggy hot temperatures.


My initial thoughts about purchasing a saree could be described as “nonchalant,” or “disinterested.” After all, I only plan on being in India for a short time and I would probably never have occasion to wear one anywhere but here. The sensible and practical girl in me thought better than to spend money on an item I would probably wear once. I’m not sure where that sensible and practical girl went, because last week this girl purchased not one, but two sarees. Yes, that’s right. I really don’t care if I will ever wear them outside the borders of this fair country, I will have the memories made while wearing them here. Besides, I could possibly use the material for something meaningful once I’m back in my motherland.

Monday, February 11, 2013


Over the past two weeks I have spent a bit of time in the surrounding villages. I have loved seeing the way of life in each village, and have tried to capture a bit of that for those back home to see. This post is mostly photos of village life.

CHAD- Immunization Clinic: Part II

I posted a bit about the immunization clinic that happens on Wednesday’s at CHAD here. This post will not add too much to the content, but rather some visualization of what goes on during the clinic. I was able to take a few photos during the bustle of it all. Enjoy!


I left Seattle, Washington, USA a little over a month ago. I can still visualize that walk down the jet way to board my first flight. You would have seen a nondescript five foot-something, blonde-haired, blue-eyed (slightly teary) girl ambling down the jet way like any ordinary passenger. In fact, this passenger would probably be so ordinary that you wouldn't even notice her. This is still my perspective.

Monday, February 4, 2013


The mercury is on the rise here. So far it has not been unbearable, but we keep getting warned about the temperatures ahead. I hope I will learn to not complain when the temperature does soar. One of the locals told me that summer temperatures can reach 48 degrees Celsius. (For those keeping score in the land of Fahrenheit that is approximately 120 degrees.) I also plan to get a monthly pass to the local pool. Swimming to cool down may help me keep my sanity. The theory was tested this weekend. It worked, then again maybe it had something to do with the company…

Saturday, February 2, 2013


Have you ever had days, or even moments, when you are engaged in an activity, task, or job and you find yourself thinking “Eureka! This is what I want to do when I grow up!”? I have. Today. It was wonderful. Epic even. Until I realized that a.) at twenty-eight I should really be grown up by now, and b.) I think my dream job is nearly impossible for me to do. Before I go on, I should mention that if you haven’t read this post yet, you should probably stop reading this now and read that post first. This one might make more sense if you take my advice. Or not. This whole post may be hard to understand. But I digress.


As mentioned in previous posts, I am now at CHAD (Community Health and Development). I will be here for about three weeks. I will be honest. This has not been my favorite post. I was excited about it because I knew it would be an opportunity to see what OT in the community looks like through the Indian perspective. After hearing stories like my young patient in Q3 with the spinal cord injury, I was interested in seeing how others like him were doing and what was CMC doing for them. I started the week with great expectations.


This post would probably be more accurately entitled “These are the villages around Vellore“ but that just doesn’t sound as catchy. India is a big country. It is a country with great diversity and variety. For instance, there are fifteen different languages used on the rupees notes as there are about that many “official” languages spoken throughout the country (I understand that there are many, many more than that actually spoken). So to post a blog that declares “this is India” is a rather bold move.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Last weekend was Republic Day in India. My understanding of Republic Day is that is the day India has chosen to celebrate their ability to come together and establish a government capable of ruling themselves. (I am willing to be corrected on this, so if anyone can confirm or clarify this, please do.) It is different than Independence Day. Regardless of the details, it is a day of celebration. A national holiday. This means that we got the day off. This year Republic Day was on a Saturday. For those from the US that would mean that the day would be spent like a typical Saturday, but since Saturday is a work day here, having it off was a big deal.

Monday, January 28, 2013


When I first arrived here, I griped about being alone. It was true. Then. Now I find myself interwoven in two diverse webs of ever-changing, ever-expanding communities. “Lonely” is a term of yesterday. In one arena, you will find me exploring the world around with other international medical students who, like me, want to experience this new place before we have to return to our “normal” lives. In the other arena, you will find me experiencing “normal” life with the local CMC staff and learning the ways and means of life in Vellore. Both are incredible webs to find myself caught it.


As I experienced both A2 and Q3, I picked up a few little unique characteristics about the hospital that you normally don’t see in the US of A. Here is a brief list of things I found interesting. I’m sure this list will grow as I learn more.
The CMC logo with motto: "Not to be ministered upon, but to minister."

Sunday, January 27, 2013


I met him during his initial occupational therapy assessment. He had been admitted to CMC after spending a month in a local hospital. He is eighteen years old and his spine was injured in a wrestling accident in the middle of last November. He has a C4 complete spinal cord injury leaving him with the ability to shrug his shoulders and there is a mild flicker of biceps muscle activation on his right arm. He is the youngest of four children. His father is a farmer and his mother a housewife. He lives in a village house with a mud floor and asbestos sheet roof. There is no toilet in the house. The front door is too narrow for a wheelchair to fit through, and it is likely that if a wheelchair could fit through the door, there would be little room for it once it made it past the threshold.


Last week I finished my posting in the Q3 Ward of the hospital. The patient population is similar to that of A2 (primarily spinal cord injuries, and traumatic brain injuries) only this is the general ward, meaning that patients don’t have the resources to pay for health care. The services they receive on Q3 are the same as A2, only in a more… economical fashion. There are four to seven beds per “room” and all the beds share one bathroom. The spaces are smaller and medical supplies used are less fancy, though they get the job done.


Last Friday marked the beginning of my fourth week here in Vellore, India. The fourth week since my little world was shaken around. I am amazed at how time has both stood still and flown by. It seems like forever ago that I was walking away (teary-eyed) from my (even more teary-eyed) sister as she dropped me off at the SeaTac airport. And yet, that day could have been yesterday.

Saturday, January 26, 2013


Years ago I sat down and wrote out a bucket list for myself. To this day I’m not really sure how serious I was about the items on the list, but I had fun dreaming up things I’d like to do. I have no idea where that list is, or if it is even still around. I do remember some of the items on the list. Living in India was one of them. Check. Skydiving: check. Getting my Master’s degree: check. Having breakfast on a hot air balloon while I watch the sun rise: still working on that one.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Wayfinding. As in finding your way. Here in India, wayfinding generally requires an adventurous spirit, patience, concentration, courage, a willingness to be lost, and a sense of humor. Wayfinding within the boundaries of the Christian Medical College hospital is no different. The buildings are all about the same color. You often can’t tell if you are in an exterior corridor or an interior hallway. You cannot rely on the signage posted around, as it will only give you a general direction of where something is. The security guards standing post at every corner and junction can also not be relied upon .They, too, will just point you in a general direction, and sometimes it is not the right direction.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


The housing saga continues. Charlie and I confirmed our housing for the CHTC this past week. We had planned on moving in and out of the CHTC during the course of our stay there as a solid stretch of accommodations was not to be had. We counted how many times we would be moving. Nine times. Count ‘em. One, two, three… seven, eight, nine. Nevertheless we were happy with our situation.

Monday, January 21, 2013


For my first week here I skipped breakfast. I know. Not healthy, but I couldn’t bring myself to eat curry and spice that early in the morning. Or was it just that I couldn’t bring myself to actually get up early enough to eat breakfast? Either way, it was the worst morning decision I have made while living here. Breakfast food at the A Block canteen knocks my socks off. I am a fan. Not all of the food described below is breakfast fare, but much of it is.

Sunday, January 20, 2013


I spent the entirety of last week as an occupational therapy elective student in the acute care unit of the CMC hospital. I was in A Block. A Block is the area of the hospital that provides healthcare for the patient population that can afford to pay, thus the hospital rooms and staff to patient ratio is a little more pleasant than the general ward. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. I was working with two other occupational therapists, Paul and Elizabeth. You have met them before (if you have been following along with this blog).

Saturday, January 19, 2013


One of the most common reactions I get, from both staff and students at CMC as well as international students, when I tell them that I will be here for three months is, “Wow. That’s a really long time. You are brave.” What I think they mean is, “Good grief! You must be bonkers!” I think their reaction stems from the challenges that international students have in learning how to live in this foreign land. I may be writing this prematurely, as I have only lived here for two weeks, but I have determined that at some point you have to make a decision to enjoy life here.


The work week here is five and a half days long. Saturday the staff works from 8am to noon. This is their normal. International students are given the option to take “a holiday” on Saturdays, but I decided to work this Saturday. (I am completely in love with what I am doing here, even if I don’t understand the language much and can’t communicate with most of my patients, that going in on Saturday morning is a blessing.) After work, Charlie met me at the hospital for an afternoon of exploration.


I have found that there seems to be no end to the lessons I have been exposed to, and presumably learned from, over the past few weeks. There are lessons in cultural nuances such as: when to take off your shoes, when and how to address various people, how to eat with your fingers, when to take food that is offered, how to avoid getting hit while crossing the street, how to get on a bus (it can be a peculiar art form—not for the faint of heart). There are lessons in healthcare, specifically occupational therapy, in a foreign land such as: how to improvise with limited resources, when to take off your shoes, how to treat someone with a complete C4 spinal cord injury (I had not been exposed to this particular patient population before I arrived here), how to count in Tamil, and much, much more. There are also lessons in faith such as, faith that I will be kept safe despite walking home alone in the dark (I do try to avoid it), faith that my housing situation will be resolved, faith that I will be willing to go when my Lord says “go” and “do” when  He says “do.”

Thursday, January 17, 2013


This is a quick note on the locks and safety. I had someone question the lock situation at my hotel. There is a bolt with padlock on the outside of the door to most every hotel (even on CMC campus). You are given the key to the padlock upon arrival. Once inside, there are two similar locks on the inside of the door so that you can secure the door shut. I suppose someone COULD lock you into your room  if they wanted to, but I act on the faith that they will not. This is a very common way to operate hosing in India. Even homes and apartments are set up with this situation. Padlocks everywhere! 


I have delayed in writing and posting the blogs on occupational therapy in India. I’m not really sure why, other than I’ve had so many thoughts whirling around in my head that I can’t seem to organize them all. Last week I spent each day in a different unit of occupational therapy at the CMC, thus getting a broad overview of each area. I was then allowed to choose which area I wanted to be “posted” in. I spent time in the OPD ward (Out Patient Department), A2 (basically acute care for those who can pay), Q3 (acute care for those who cannot pay), Psychiatry, Rehabilitation Institute, and CHAD (Community Health and Development). I plan on taking a post for each area. Today I will attempt to tackle Out Patient OT. Disclaimer: All photos were taken with permission from patients and OT staff. No real patient names will be used.

Monday, January 14, 2013


As I adjust to many of the little nuances of life in this land, I have become increasingly comfortable here. Not every activity is a challenge for me now, and I have friends to help me out along the way if I have any questions. I am learning to take a place of “not knowing.” I am used to knowing what is going on around me, or at least being able to figure out what is happening. VERY often I find myself thinking “I have no clue what is happening right now. All I hear is LOUD NOISES!” It is a place of dependence and faith. I have learned that my best and most comforting “go-to” option when this happens is straight to prayer.


Saturday afternoon was relaxing for me. Finally. I was able to sleep in, workout, freshen up, shoot some photos and generally enjoy my day. I had heard there was a choir from Shillong performing on campus in the evening, and had decided to attend. Two new international students from Australia, Hannah and her brother Ashish, also decided to attend. Together we attended the choir performance and were very glad we did. The music was a unique combination of old hymns that had been “re-mixed” and new songs. The theme of the performance was “Stand Still and Know I am God.” Who doesn’t need that reminder?


I have had a few people ask me about the food I have been eating, so I’m going to do my best to describe a little bit about what I have been eating. It is very hard to get the ingredient list of each meal, as some of the spices are not common or the names are not easily translated.  The other complication is that some of the dishes are called something different in the North, and it may be a North Indian who is telling me about the food so the same meal may be described to me in a few different ways. I will do my best to describe it.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


Before I left for my trip, I tried to Google search images of the place where I would be staying. It was very difficult to find anything, thus I determined that I would do my best to post photos of around the college. This post will be the fulfillment of that promise to myself.

The one blog I did find that had photos was confusing for me to follow. The author had tried to describe the campus as if you were walking through it. I got lost sitting on my own couch at home, so I thought that I would just take some photos that would give the overall feeling of what the CMC College campus looks/feels like rather than try to orient the photos to one another. I will do my best to describe each photo.


I have already mentioned, and introduced to you, Divya and her husband Paul and their friends, but I wanted to post a little more about them. Divya and Paul are a Christian couple who work as OTs at the CMC. Divya is a therapist in out-patient pediatrics, and Paul is a therapist in acute care (A2 Ward). I have been working with Paul the last two days, and will continue to work with him and Elizabeth during the next week.


I thought I would post of few photos of some of the wildlife I have seen since arriving. There isn't too much that is different than the US. There are little creepy crawlies, birds, squirrels, dogs and cows—all of which can be seen frequently in the US. However, you don’t see cows wandering around the streets of busy towns like you do here, so the context is a little different. I thought I would post a few photos of the things commonly seen here which are not commonly seen in the part of the US I am from. I am getting used to seeing them here now. Enjoy. 


Every Wednesday night the international students go out to dinner at the Darling Hotel. It is very good food and not too expensive (four of us ate our fill for $20) for American standards. This is apparently a long-standing tradition. This Wednesday we had a group of close to sixty people. The typical size is about twenty people, I guess. The food reminded me of American Indian food, in fact, the dish I ate was the same as something I would have eaten at Gateway to India back home. The restaurant is on the rooftop of the Darling Hotel. I didn't count the flights of stairs, but there were a lot! I was able to take a shot off the rooftop at night, but it is not very clear.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

CHAD- Immunization Clinic

(This blog was written Wednesday, Jan 9 and posted on Thursday, Jan 10)

Today I spent time at the CHAD (Community Health and Development) unit. CHAD is basically a hospital for the low (very low) income population. It is located on the College campus, just a 10 minute walk from my place. I only saw a few of the rooms, and what I saw was indeed bare bones. The beds are steel cots with a sheet; the rooms have 6-8 people in them. Conditions are, to say the least, rudimentary. However, this allows them to provide healthcare to those who could not otherwise afford it.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Today I found myself on a twenty minute bus ride to a village out beyond Vellore. As we bumped along the road in standing-room-only conditions, I became keenly aware that there with many ebony eyes staring me down, and mine were the only pair of blue eyes. Every now and again I am struck by how much of a minority I am here. I get stared down everywhere I go. It does take some getting used to. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


I’m going to attempt to describe OT in the out-patient unit of the hospital. In a word; chaotic. From what I have seen, therapy in general relies heavily upon family. Family training is a huge part of treatment. Keep that in mind.


Right before I headed to the meet-and-greet, a “veteran” international student proceeded to damped my mood by telling me that it was just a fundraising opportunity and REALLY boring. He was wrong, or at least he had the wrong perspective. I am so glad I went.

I met five students from University of Rhode Island. It is very exciting to be around US peoples! Sarah and her husband Jason have brought over Jessica, Monica and Kaitlin. All but Jason are physical therapists; and Sarah is now longer a student but practicing PT. Jessica, Monica, and Kaitlin will be here for two weeks. I am looking forward to getting to know them.


Sunday afternoon I was able to spend some time wandering the streets of Vellore with my camera. This post will mostly be photos, as photos are worth a thousand words, right? Vellore is much like the other areas of India I have seen. One of the striking differences between the people of Vellore and people of Kolkata, in my opinion, is that there are fewer beggars in Vellore. I remember people with their hands held out tapping constantly at my elbows in Kolkata. There is some of that in Vellore, but not much. I did have a number of children tapping me asking me to take their pictures. I loved to do so, however I wish I was able to capture the moment where I show them the picture I took. Their dirty little faces absolutely light up and the giggles spill out.

Monday, January 7, 2013


This post will serve to inform you of my living situation and (for some of my curious readers) my new wardrobe. I mentioned that I have been trying to move to campus to be closer to the international students. Every evening it is challenging to leave my new friends and trek back to me lonely little Indian “cottage.” I don’t mind the conditions I live in; it is the solitude that I am struggling to accept. Last night I wrote the housing director, and I knew she would respond to me today. This morning I prayed that whatever the answer was, I would have a peace about it. I dearly wanted to be brought closer to the international students; instead, the international students were brought to me. Rumor has it my hotel is now full of international students. I have only met seven of them, and they have expressed interest in getting to know me. The feeling is mutual.

Sunday, January 6, 2013


I prayed for friends my first day here. Within the hour my prayer was answered. Friends have continued to come out of the woodwork since meeting Bridget. The college has recently acquired about thirty more international students from all over the world. All of the students are med students (doctors), leaving Julian, Teresa and I as the only PMR (Physical Medication and Rehabilitation) students.

Saturday, January 5, 2013


Day Two start with me waking up to my alarm which means that although I didn't feel like it, I did actually sleep. I readied myself and headed over to College. I didn't feel much like eating, so I decided to skip breakfast for now and catch the 7:30 bus to the Hospital. There is a CMC bus that runs a few times in the morning and evening between College and the Hospital. It is free and quick. It will be my commute if I am placed at the Hospital. I met Bridget at the bus stop and she rode with me to the Hospital. I had intended to take care of some administration details, but after questioning Bridget about them, she told me to take care of it later and since she wasn't able to find what she needed when she arrived, she advised me to take care of it with my original contact at the College. I may try again on Monday, but it is likely that I will take her advice.


When I first arrived at my hotel, I got a brief introduction from the manager which consisted mostly of him showing me the light switches and handing me some maps of the college campus and city of Vellore. He then left me to take in my surroundings. I sat down on the bed and cried. (I am only being honest here.) The reality of my situation hit me like a ten-ton weight. There I was, beyond tired, hungry, sweaty, slightly disoriented, and completely alone. I knew the name of the hotel manager, but where he has disappeared to was beyond me.


Before I left for India, I was given the statistic that India has the highest rate of automobile accidents, and of those accidents, they also boast the highest mortality rate. I now know why. This was not my first taxi ride in India; in fact, during my first trip to India I had the pleasure of being a passenger in a taxi that was involved in a three-car pile-up accident. Thankfully no one was hurt.
First signs of my new "home"

Thursday, January 3, 2013


I am sitting on the floor of the Dubai International Airport. It is one of the more beautiful airports I have been in. Sleek, clean, shinny, it is fully equipped with a spa, hotel, gym, grocery stores, and all the high-end fashion designer clothing.

International flights always tangle up my mind. Somewhere between here and Seattle, I flew over Thursday. I was served dinner, then breakfast on the flight and shortly after breakfast we landed in time for dinner in Dubai. Crazy. I think I should be sleeping now, but instead I have a variety of things reeling through my head. Sleep won’t come easy for a while.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Happy New Year!

Count down to departure: 1 day

I have little to report regarding my imminent adventure, so I thought I would take this time to write about the mundane details of preparing for this trip. I imagine a post of this nature will put most to sleep, but there may be a few students who will be interested in knowing the minutia so they can plan their own trip. With that being said, this post will likely be long and boring.