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Travelblog: Once in a lifetime voyage to the heart of India.

Monday, June 13, 2005

I'm a genius...

The saying "hot as hell" has a whole new meaning to me now. The average temperature out here is 115 degrees with 60-70% humidity. It's too hot to eat, talk, walk, read, work and even sleep. The rains were to due about a week ago, but everyone predicts we still have a good week. I'm a genius for choosing the hottest place on earth located in the middle of no where. Speaking of...

SEARCH, or Shodhgram as they call it here is completely differently than I expected. What Dr. Abhay and Dr. Rani Bang have created is phenomenal. Shodhgram means SEARCH village and it is just that, a little gam (village). It is 13 acres consisting of a 40-bed hospital, residential living areas for the staff, guess quarters, accommodations for relatives of the sick, a prayer hall, dining hall, agricultural land, library and administrative buildings. My room is modest, but very comfortable. I have a fan, surprisingly a cooler (praise the lord), a desk, a dresser and bathroom with a flushing toilet. I have no shower; I will be talking bucket baths during my time here. Oh! I have a phone so feel free to surprise me ;). Shodhgram is 20 kilometers outside of the nearest city, Gadchiroli. This place is REMOTE. Driving here, I felt like Sharuk Khan in Swadesh; the scene where he is with the hitchhiker and they are driving through the countryside. The people here are really sweet. I’m sure they would seem even sweeter if communication wasn’t such an obstacle. Everyone here understands Hindi, but the language of choice is Marathi. Often I find myself listening attempting to catch a word here or there. Marathi, to my surprise, is very different than Hindi and Gujarati. My learning curve is going to be a lot steeper than I anticipated. I just picked up a Marathi children’s book cause my broken Hindi is not getting me very far. This place feels like an ashram, it is so peaceful. There are lots of trees, and I wake up to sound of chirping birds. We have community clean up twice a week at 6:15 am and community prayer at 7 pm every evening followed by an information session on a health topic (in Marathi of course). I was delighted to learn we have plenty of water, the phones work and they some how have managed to get Internet out here. Driving here, I imagined living for the next 10 weeks without all these amenities. I’m happy to learn the only amenity I will have to live without is a radio and a television. (I have yet to see a T.V.).

Although today is Saturday and the day is half over, I feel like I’ve done so much. I started my day with community clean up at 6:15 and ended my morning with a meeting. I met with Dr. Bang and Dr. Reddy regarding my study. I’m still in shock that I get to work with this visionary. I have to seriously pinch myself after every conversation I have with Dr. Bang. The meeting with Dr. Bang was fruitful, but overwhelming. I feel like vomiting. Don’t know if it the heat or just the thought of working on this protocol and questionnaire for the 60 millionth time. I really thought my we had addressed any possible questions/problem that could arise. Wrong! Dr. Bang was asking me questions neither one of us had answers to, but that need to be answered before fieldwork can begin. For the next week I’ll be making field visits and doing revisions, yet again.

My number: 957138-255-457


At 9:24 PM, Blogger Margee said...

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At 9:26 PM, Blogger Margee said...

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At 9:27 PM, Blogger Margee said...

Sorry I'm dumb! Gargi you sound like your having an amazing time. I miss you keep the stuff rolling. Talk to you soon. I'll by a calling card. Love you, stay cool


At 7:48 AM, Blogger Garcia's said...

Gargi, thanks for sharing these post. It is awesome how you could be located thousands of miles away, but we are updated of what you are doing. This is a great experience and we are proud of you. We miss you very much and can hardly wait to see you again. Keep the stories coming.

At 1:04 PM, Blogger Shailee said...

Gargi this place sounds so amazing! I'm proud of you for leaving everything behind. Ikade, tikade, you have to tell me what those two words mean in Marathi. Take care. Love, shailee


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