Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today the Rally for Health group drove from the medical center and hospital in Farrukhabad to a town named Barielly.  I woke up early this morning expecting to have a quick breakfast and be on our way.  We walked passed the construction to the cafeteria, but our leaders turned off the usual path before we arrived there.  We then realized that we were up for not only breakfast. 

We walked through an alleyway smelling of sewage and emerged into a new section of construction.  This building site seemed bigger, more important, and more professional.  The structure seemed much taller and wider.  In every nook and cranny all over the structure were workers wedged into every possible position.  Laborers passed boards and bricks to different floors by dropping and throwing the needed supplies.  Even though the construction workers in the USA are more trained and professional, the workers here seemed more skilled in teamwork. 

We passed the construction site and entered into a hospital and into a room with taped green fabric squares for floor tiles.  Around the room was a ring of plastic chairs surrounding two tables, one with drinks and one with food.  The drink table offered water and tea, and the food table was limited to chips, cookies, and sandwiches.  We chose not eat the sandwiches because the ingredients were raw cucumbers and tomatoes.  In India, anything raw has the risk of upsetting a Westerner's stomach due to bacteria.  We ate a limited breakfast of chips and cookies and soon were introduced to the president of the medical center.  He gave us a tour of the hospital. 

We were allowed into the emergency room, which looked bigger than most of the other ERs that we have seen in India, but still much smaller than an American ER.  There were a few patients inside, but we could not see them closely.  There seemed to be fewer medical gadgets and more space, and the beds seemed less modern.  The hallways throughout the hospital were open and not very active.  All along the hallways were doors with numbers and descriptions above them.  Even though some of the rooms had patients inside, some parts of the hospital were still under construction.

We walked back outside, where the cars and rickshaws were waiting for us.  We had rented new rickshaws that looked more colorful, comfortable and spacious.   Unknown at the time, the rickshaws were more of a pain than the ones we had used at the beginning of the rally.  I rode in a car, with Ivan, Mom, a translator and the driver.  The translator, was a kid about 16 who was the son of our driver. 

The most notable part of our drive was stopping at the Ganges, a holy and famous river for Hindus and non-Hindu Indians.  We stepped out of the car on the bridge into total chaos.  All around us were cars, bikes, trucks, rickshaws, and pedestrians, some of whom were beggars.  Everything and everybody came up to me at once so I knew I needed to get my observations and photos quickly!  I looked over the bridge and saw families in rowboats fishing and kids playing in the river.  On the shores were also families living in tents.  I was expecting to find burning bodies on ghats (a Hindu tradition we watched in Kathmandu at Pashupatinats)  but did not see anything of this sort.  I presume there are certain sections of the river used for play and others used for religious ceremonies such as burning bodies.  I watched for a while, but soon we all jumped back in our cars and rickshaws.

We continued on with a specific plan.  Our car would drive far ahead of the others to our night’s destination and get the situation and rooms set up there.  The other support car would stay behind with the rickshaws, which drive more slowly.  Also, by this time, the rickshaws were having trouble shifting, and some were breaking down.   Occasionally, the drivers would have to restart and tend to the vehicles. 

Up ahead, we had a harrowing drive of dodging in, out and around other cars, tractors, bikes, horse and oxen drawn carts, pedestrians, and trucks that could have exterminated every one in our car with even a slight accident.  When the scary drive was over, our car pulled into a sweet courtyard with flowers and a playground.  We were told by the hospitable headmistress that this is an orphanage, serving 55 kids from this area.  The headmistress showed us to our rooms where we settled in and took nice, warm showers. 

The gang showed up and a surprise awaited us.  We walked downstairs for dinner and were greeted by some of the orphans.  A line of children were waiting to bless us by placing a beaded neckless around our necks.

We were then ushered into a large room with tables and food.  It was Thanksgiving!  The entire group sat around a long rectangular table and ate mashed potatoes, chicken, gravy, peas and carrots, and soup.  For dessert, we all had a huge slab of chocolate ice cream and an amazing piece of cake.  I am thankful to be alive and healthy, and even though I have survived accidents, I am still well, and have an amazing support team of my two best friends, Mom and Dad.   

Thank you for reading Rohan Geographic!


  1. And i am thankful for you...thank you for the laughs was a tough day for all...Love you - Adam & Seth!!!

  2. Those Eight hours in the car was a lovable experence of my life.I was really impressed by your blogs,and i must say you write really well.It was real fun yesterday in the car with those bumpy jerks,mathematics and dodging car.
    i'll love to meet you all again.i'll pray that you and the team should have a happy and prosperous journey.

  3. Hi Rohan,
    I am thankful for your blog, and even more important, for your life and that of our family. I am up before everyone else this morning and have pecan rolls rising for breakfast. Yum.
    We had a nice Thanksgiving yesterday - not as exciting as yours, but fun for us oldsters. Your Aunt Pat and Uncle Jim are here for the weekend and we had a few other friends here for the turkey dinner. The turkey was uncooperative and took 2 hours longer than expected to cook, but that was not a big deal as it was a nice afternoon so we snacked and drank outside (and drank some more) until the meal was ready.
    Your Aunt Karen and Todd abandoned us and went to Florida for the holiday, but we heard from them several times during the UT-TX A&M football game last night (a big rivalry each Thanksgiving) that fortunately was won by UT (so we went to bed happy).
    Thank you for the pictures of the Ganges. They are just as good as the ones I remember seeing over the years in National Geographic! Way to go, my boy!
    Well, your Aunt Pat is up so I'm off.
    Love, Grandma Doris

  4. Sahil,
    I would have liked the ride better if I did not have so much math! It was nice to meet you.

    Grandma Doris,
    Wow, it sounds like you are having a blast! I would have loved to have come and visit you for Thanksgiving!


  5. Your blogs deserve every bit of the newspaper attention they got. The word 'impressive" leaps to mind. I am happy for you as well overjoyed to watch you grow in a knowledge and a sense of perspective no school can give. Your Great Grandmother Silbaugh (who died before you were born) used to tell of a little girl who told her school class about a poor family. "The mother was poor, the father was poor, the children were poor, the butler was poor, the gardner was poor, the maid was poor, the chauffeur was poor." You have seen real poverty, real beauty, real dignity, and paid attention to what you have seen. Keep up the sensational seeing, photographing, learning. Love, Grandpa Morgan