I didn't sleep well last night, and I assume it is because of jet lag. I awoke at three, laid awake for a bit, then got up to use the restroom. As I was about to leave, Nelson whispered "Dave, can I come with?". Apparently he had been up for a while as well. We hit up the bathroom for a nice bro talk and then after another failed sleeping attempt, went for a casual stroll around the dimly lit jungle paths at around 5 a.m. I've decided this is my favorite time of day/night. The jungle is still so alive with sounds, but the air isn't quite so festering hot and it is pretty peaceful. It is also the favorite time of day for cobra's, vipers, and scorpions, however, so we had to watch our step and not walk underneath suspect looking trees so that we weren't dive bombed by a sneaky tree viper.
I really loved this stroll through the jungle. It got me thinking how grateful I am that my cousin Nelson decided to come on this India adventure. Originally I had planned to embark on this journey by myself. During the Rising Star fundraiser I had visited the Morris family and enlightened them about my trip. A few days later I got a random text from Nelson saying "Hey Dave, it's Nelson. I think I might be coming with you to India, is that ok?" Of course it's ok Nels! You are the man!
Really though, I would not have wanted many people to come with me on this journey of self discovery. But Nelson is as close as they come to me. The saying “A journey is best measured in friends rather than miles” rings true for me. Nelson is one of the most intelligent and humble people I know. He has such a fun sense of humor. We have some striking similarities in our nature that adds to our closeness. I am so blessed to have Nelson around and I can't really imagine what this journey would be like without him.
Today was the medical rotation. Our objective was to take a few of the injured or sick school children as well as a few of the more sickly leprosy affected individuals to the hospital in Chennai which was a few hours away. It was a LONG day in the car. The weather today was sweltering hot... but luckily, thanks to a recent upgrade, we had A/C in the car. The car trip was also great because I was able to get to know the school children on a personal and individual level. Up until this point it had always been playing with them in groups.
As we boarded the van to depart, Ramesh saw the bear killer and his eyes brightened with excitement. He ran over to me and sat on my lap. It was awesome! He is such a funny guy.
I definitely look happier to have this guy with me than he does me.
When we got to the hospital, he chose me to be his 'white person'. So far, I hadn't understood the point of having the volunteers come along on this hospital ride. What use did we have? Well, as Ramesh took me to the line in the hospital, he grabbed my hand and then proceeded to pull me along as he cut almost everyone in line. Apparently, having a white person along doubles as a fast pass in the hospitals. I felt a little used... but according to the volunteer director they would have had to sleep in Chennai because the waits are so long if they didn't have fast passes.
The hospital was chaotic and looked unsanitary. If I am going to get a disease, it will be from the hour I spent in there. Long lines, sad faces, smelled terrible. One of the leprosy afflicted individuals we brought gave me a ton of food for thought. He was pretty messed up with his leprosy. He had some cataracts in his eyes that made him partially blind and he needed surgery. He kept going from Dr. Office to Dr. Office getting different things done. A couple named the Rigsby's (Utah Jazz President) were taking them along and helping him out. Eventually we had to leave before he went into surgery. Apparently, all the old guy could talk about was how kind and sweet the Rigsby's were and how much he loved them. Maybe that doesn't seem odd... but if I was painfully being treated for different affliction and was about to go into major surgery on my eyes, I wouldn't be thanking or thinking about the nice people walking me around. I would be worried about my surgery.
I believe that the sick old man was so used to his depreciated state, that surgery was just ONE MORE thing. Whereas he has rarely been treated with so much love and respect. Since he was not used to being cared for so lovingly, he was blown away by the attention and that is why he was so excited about everything.
Here are some poorly taken photos of the hospital grounds:
The crowded hospital grounds
I snapped this picture through a window in the hospital. It is a Hindu temple.
It also was the first time I encountered a beggar that I would have to turn down (directors orders). It was heart breaking. Truly. She had a note that said she was deaf and her husband had lost a limb in an accident. She looked me right into the eyes and I had to hand her back her note and break eye contact and walk away. I brought it up to one of the directors and she said there was a good chance it was a scam. It could have been. But I don't think so. The look that she had transcended the culture and physical barrier that was between us and pierced right into my soul. It was a look that I believe only a truly despairing individual could give. Breaking eye contact with that woman who was desperately looking to me for help also broke a bit of my heart and soul, as silly and cliche as it sounds. You can't be a loving and tender person and not be damaged by something like that. Something has got to die a little inside. It was definitely an experience I had never had before and was heartbreaking.
Afterwards we left the hospital. Typically we go into the colonies and re bandage sores, etc... but today was a rare hospital visit instead.
Ramesh and Suda waiting to get picked up at the hospital
Once again we had play time for an hour with the kids when we got back before dinner. This time I snapped some photos. While the primary thing to do is carry around kids on the shoulders, I also spent time playing cricket, frisbee, soccer, and basketball.
If I had any self respect, I would not let these guys on my shoulders. They yell "UP!" and if you say not right now, they storm off. I want some stinking R.E.S.P.E.C.T alright?
President Rigsby scounting some local talent
Part of the playground action
My man Goku_____. I can't remember most of his long name, but I'm a fan of him and DBZ so I remember the Goku part. He is hilarious and tries to beat me up most days.
Nelson getting abused. I'm telling you they objectify you for your shoulders!
Getting a nice massage from some local talent.
Just enjoying the tomfoolery