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.