After breakfast, we all jumped into rickshaws to go the Asian Heart Hospital where we spent the morning decorating the rickshaws, attending a press conference, and participating in the honorary start of the rally. There are ten Westerners involved in the Rally for Health. To get to the hospital we divided into 4 rickshaws. We were then taken on a long, unexpected ride through many of the biggest streets we have seen so far in India. Every once in a while, the rickshaws would slit up and have to reunite on the side of the road. We think that some of the rickshaw drivers did not know where the hospital was. Thank goodness at least a couple of them had cell phones.
We finally made it to the hospital and started decorating the vehicles. We had brought several khatas, as well as stickers advertising health and our rickshaw rally. Even though we were not leaving Mumbai today, we were going to drive the rickshaws ten to twenty meters, as an honorary start, while people celebrated and the press took pictures. After decorating the rickshaws we had to attend a long and boring press conference. There were at least 50 photographers and journalists. The leaders of the rally, Dr. Robert Montana from Anchorage, and Dr. Ravikant Singh from Mumbai, spoke about smoking cessation in Mumbai, and health care delivery to people in India who are less fortunate than us. During the press conference, we drank tea and ate biscuits which kept me from dying of complete boredom. Finally, when it felt like years had passed, the conference was over! The press and the Media moved outside to take pictures of our honorary start.
Outside, there had arrived two Indian celebrities. One was a famous male singer and the other was the doctor who recently successfully carried out heart surgery on the Prime Minister of India. A huge mass of media surrounded the two celebrities, but not only them. The media also found me interesting due to my year of travel, my homeschool education, and my name. Rohan is a Hindi name meaning “arising.” Many Hindis find it fascinating that a Western kid has a Hindi name. I had a full circle of photographers around me for most of the time. I even got a TV news interview and several pictures with the celebrities. I gave my blog address to one of the journalists, and was super excited by the attention. All of the Westerners were given large necklaces of flowers and a dot between the eyes (a tika). This is a traditional Hindu blessing to give us good luck for our journey. Then, we drove in the rickshaws out of the hospital parking lot and into the street while having our pictures taken.
|Photo by: Ivan Bacon my Photo Bro|
After the pomp and circumstance, we were driven to a slum clinic where the doctors (including my dad) helped patients for the rest of the day. During that time, I did my school work and started my blog. We had dinner there, and then rickshawed back to the hotel to get a good night’s sleep.
Thank you for reading Rohan Geographic!
ps- This is yesterday’s photo shoot posted in today’s The India Times. Tomorrow I will post the next article, hopefully with me in it!