Saturday, July 30, 2011

30 July 2011

Yesterday, I went and did a Bosch school medical screening at the Police Quarters in Adugodi.  It took three buses to get from Chikkalsandra there and about an hour.  Coxtown to Basavanagudi still seems worse to me.  The school was down at the back of the quarters.  If I hadn’t visited the Shanti Nagar school, I probably would have been too hesitant to wander so far.

Anyway, I arrived at 10:30 AM to chaos.  Anand said, looking quite disheveled, that he was happy to see me there.  The doctors, as usual, were quite terrible.  When I first arrived, they were actually off sitting together somewhere.  Once they actually got to work, their uselessness was further proven through several obvious cases of physical problems being labeled at NAD.  Two particularly bad ones included a cleft palate and some intense skin problem on the hands.  Fairly immediately Anand had me conduct checkups rather than input data.

This school was one of the worst for having kids go crazy at the sight of a foreigner.  Lots of handshakes and salutes turned to actual petting of my hair as I conducted eye screenings.  Nonetheless, the kids were overall happy and helpful.

I just finished inputting the data for these students tonight.  There were 190 students or so that were seen.  The data is not finalized of course.  I received an email from Sinu yesterday complaining about both the format and quality of the data from Lakkasandra School.  That data, in fact, was what I refused to input because of the insane amount of time that I spent playing on excel preparing the followup data for Munichinappa.  

[Omitted Ranting]

On a lighter note, today, Swathi and I attempted to visit the same school from last week in Jayanagar.  The school was closed and we’re still not exactly sure for what reason.  So, instead, we went to a new temple nearby.  It was a nice, intimate temple where I received the full blessings.

Next, I had my first coconut water.  It was alright—the mixture of sweet and salty flavors was certainly different.  Once I finished, I attempted to eat the unripe pulp. I just could not handle the gelatinous texture.

Swathi and I then went to a Jain temple.  It was cool and I got a couple of photos of the outer area.  I should really refresh my memory of Jain philosophy.

After a bit of waiting around we headed to Chamrajpet to see about getting some astrology done.  The person was gone so we just headed to Urvashi Theatre.  We had lunch there and then met up with Rukmini for a Hindi movie—Zindagi Na Milege Dobara.  At intermission, I ran into Aravind.  Bangalore is definitely getting smaller.  For me, it is even giving me some celebrity.  On my commute home, I ran into one of the Brigade ladies from Parimallaji’s Kannada class.  She was very nice and I enjoyed speaking with her for just a little while.  You know me and old ladies.  Her friend asked why I was not staying in Bangalore permanently.  I’m certainly thinking about my future more intensely.  Just today, Swathi and I decided to come back for an MBBS. 

Adugodi Police Quarters GHPS

Me eating tender coconut

Jain Temple

Thursday, July 28, 2011

28 July 2011

Well, I’ve finally moved out of my crazy house.  It was a good and interesting experience, but I’m glad it’s over.  Of course, it came at an opportune time.  Apparently, my watching of Sita Sings the Blues or my excessive fb chatting caused the upload/download something to go over on the Internet.  So, because of that, Naidu said that he wouldn’t use the Internet for a week in order to investigate whether the company was overcharging him.  Whatever it was, I’m sure that it was my fault.  I left a Rs 500 note in the showcase to pay for the overcharge.

It was a bit of an awkward exit.  I left when someone came to the door for Raghavendra.  He was sleeping since he’s on the night shift now.  He asked as we walked downstairs, “When did they notify you that you were leaving?”  I said that it was just the night before.  They were always hard to read—I’ve no idea what they thought of me or how they felt about my abrupt exit.

I’m now back at Venkateshji’s.  I spent most of my day at Ajitashri just farting around.  Liz and I ate at Subway again (Liz, Swathi, and I did yesterday).  There we saw some stinky French hippies.  They reeked of patchouli and looked as if India was taking a toll on them.  Apparently, no one eats foot-longs in India.  They can eat a whole plate of rice but a piece of bread is just too much.

Not too much of note otherwise.  There was an interesting little episode in Jayanagar last Saturday.  I went with Swathi to go do a dental hygiene talk for Doctors at School.  It was nice—a litte disorganized (go figure).  The doctor, Dr. Gayatri, was nice and seemed dedicated.  The school was incredibly poor and all standards shared a single roof.  I spoke with one of the teachers for a while about studying India.  She asked why India, and I said that I didn’t know.  She said, “Indian is a good culture.” And I agreed.  After seeing kids trying to mimick my hair, I had them come up and I did it for them.

Venkateshji's Nephew and Son playing Tumbling Monkeys!

Monday, July 25, 2011

25 July 2011

I guess it’s been a long while since I’ve written in here.  Fortunately, a power outage has driven me from my computer.  A lot of hard work has happened the last couple of weeks.  With meager numbers of dedicated volunteers I have finished the Bosch follow-up at Munichinappa Government School in Adugodi.  It seems that last summer’s medical camp was not as thorough as I would have hoped.  A near majority of the students require some dental care.

Cavities and tooth pain are present in nearly every case.  There are many other cases of ear infections as well.  Hopefully, if everything goes as planned, I should be able to get some doctors and specialists to the most pressing cases by next week during Anand and Sinu’s absence.

After the follow-up I have spent much of my time manipulating data collected at Munichinappa.  It seems Bosch wants to see some numbers before going forward with these schools.

In the mean time I have been having quite a new experience here at my new hosts’ place.  I am quite happy with the location, however, living with conservative Hindu bachelors has been more challenging than any of my previous home stays.  I guess I have been accustomed to having a family atmosphere.  I also took for granted having meals prepared and laundry done while away at work.  These chores done alone in the US are considerably easier for an American.  Monsoon season alone makes drying laundry a multiple-day task.  Also, it’s really difficult to make anything but Indian food in India.

Last Sunday, Naidu and Raghavendra invited me to a gurupuja through RSS.  It was really good with a fine speaker and nice ritual.  Since then, however, I have sensed some animosity toward me and Western ideas and approaches.  Only now am I realizing how one-sided my open-mindedness is in this house.  I realize that yoga, Ayurveda, and whatever crazy food diets these brothers follow (notes ahead) have benefit and all, but dentists and allopathic medicine is not just some crock of shit.  To quote Darpan, “No amount of yoga is going to make your pancreas work again.” Even yesterday, when I came down with food poisoning, I was given little sympathy and what seemed like patronizing advice.  I am not an idiot because I don’t know your green oranges or how to roll a perfect chapathi.  There really are some things that Americans really do better.  I agree with Vivekananda that the best of both worlds should be celebrated.

Rules of their weird diet:

1)  Drink 8 liters of water a day and each liter should be drunk in one sitting, without stopping. However, this water should not be taken just before, during, or for 1 ½ hours after a meal.

2)  Leftovers are bad. Don’t keep a fridge because you shouldn’t eat anything cold or leftover from a previous meal.

3)  Eat lots of raw vegetables—nothing non-veg, of course, because they are digested quickly.  If you feel too full and want to digest things quickly, sit in diamond asana. It will make things happen faster.

4)  Once an onion is cut, it produces toxins after 20 minutes. Don’t eat onions after this time—so don’t take raw onion from outside.

5)  Non-veg makes you irritable, angry, and prone to violence.  Avoid even if you don’t have caste obligations.

And, while I’m at it, I’ll mention some of the other crazy things they’ve told me:

-- When the BJP was in power, India fought a war with China and won.

-- Of all languages, only the speaking of Sanskrit causes all of the nerves of the body to work (or something to that effect, whatever that means)

-- All Indian languages come from Sanskrit. Nothing existed before.
So, despite my anthropological desires to extend cultural relativism to everyone, I ask that some understanding be given to me and my culture—it’s only fair.

Anyway, on another note. Liz, Shivani, Jennie, and I went on a Bangalore bus tour yesterday.  It was a good way to see some of the more distant temples, but much I had already seen and known.  We first went to the ISKCON temple which was super huge and rich.  After leaving the actual temple, there was so much food and merchandise.  I can definitely see why a following caught on in the US.

Next, we went to the capitol but didn’t get to go in or anything.  It’s so cool but construction now makes pictures difficult.  We went to Tippu Sultan Mahal where the native price for entry was Rs 5 and the foreigner price Rs 100! It honestly was not that amazing but I did get some photos.  We went to a Shiva temple in Srinagar and the Dodda Ganapathi and Big Bull.  We had lunch across from RV Public School and then went to Lal Bagh.  We stopped at some sari store which I’m sure was associated with the tour people.  I ended up buying a kurta.  Last, we finished at a museum and art gallery.

Teepu Sultan Mahal

Lal Bagh

Karnataka High Court

Karnataka State Capitol

Thursday, July 14, 2011

14 July 2011

I’ve moved to Girinagar for the next two weeks.  I’m living with two bachelor brothers from Andhra Pradesh.  They are Telugu speakers and not the usual Brahmin family that I’ve always seemed to live with.  They are, however, still vegetarians but do eat garlic and onion.  Dr. Daya was saying these are avoided because of their aphrodisiac effects.  I say that not seeing or touching girls until marriage is probably enough of an aphrodisiac that food probably has little to no effect.

Today was my first day without the usual Auntie force-fed meal.  I went out and got chocolate cake and mango for breakfast.  I later went and got Maggi and a pomegranate for lunch.  It’s both good and bad to have my independence back.

I worked on the computer for most of today. I’m ready for my Bosching tomorrow.

PS: I almost had close to a full conversation in Kannada today with the man at the mango shop.

Yesterday was the most recent terrorist attack in India.

My room in Girinagar


Dog tied up on the roof


Monday, July 11, 2011

11 July 2011

I seem to be having some difficulty in getting around to writing in this.  I imagine that after  3-4 hours a day of riding a bus around Bangalore that I might not feel up to recording the day’s details.  Luckily, I have moved from the suburbs of Hyderbad (Coxtown) back to the southwest side of town.

The house that I am staying in tonight is unbelievable.  So much granite and so much space.  The puja room is actually a room.  The uncle deals in essential oils and fragrances—seems to be extremely lucrative in India.

Anyway, I began general health screenings in one of my Bosch schools this weekend.  Using Dr. Shubha’s presentation material and Dr. Daya’s advice, I’ve created quite an extensive guide.  The first two days were successful and I look forward to continuing this work.

I also went back to visit my old family.  They’ve moved to JP Nagar 2nd phase.  Aravind seems a bit disappointed with its distance from most everything.  Auntie, too, says that the street is too quiet and that she doesn’t really have any friends there yet.  Apparently the area is wealthy.  In fact, on just Sunday alone both the camel man and the bull man came by looking for donations.  If I wasn’t ashamed of representing the whole of Western culture as an unbathed schlump, I probably would have gone out and gotten my bovine blessing (for a small fee, of course).  The music was good though. It takes some talent to play that huge-ass clarinet/bugle.

I went to yoga again today.  It was actually better than last time but still painful on barely covered granite.

I’m sad to leave my Auntie in Coxtown.  She and I were getting close.  She actually kind of hugged me when I left.  She made ‘so many’ delicious things for me.

Had Taco Bell for lunch yesterday. Absolutely terrible! Punjabi thali for lunch again today.  The guy who works there knows me far too well.

Ramakrishna Ashrama

A bus, like a G6

The Shastri's new house

Aravind's new room

New Kitchen

My host in Srinagar

My host brother in Srinagar

My home in Srinagar

Puja room in Srinagar

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

5-6 July 2011

It’s been a while since I’ve written.  I’ve been very busy and I’ve even forgotten that I have this journal.  Much seems to have changed since I last wrote.

I am now living in Coxtown with Dr. Daya and his family (parents).  His older brother has married and moved to the UK.  I am staying in his room on the second floor.  It’s an interesting change to have my own floor and to have to lock my door when I leave the house.  The family is an even more orthodox Brahmin one.  I am not allowed in the kitchen and onions are no longer a part of my diet.  The food seems more varied, however.  My auntie occasionally makes north Indian dishes as well.

Work has been quite busy.  While I stayed home my first two days in Coxtown, the rest of my first week was spent mostly on a bus trying to figure out a new route to work.  We had an eye screening Saturday in Byatanarayanapura and a follow-up yesterday.  Sunday was an orientation that lasted all day.  We might have a few more good volunteers, though.

Can’t recal anything else of importance, except that we started yoga…

Sabji, yoghurt, and puris (Coxtown)

The roof in Coxtown