Saturday, May 19, 2007
The Jogio village Devta (Deity) is brought to the fair grounds and his Doli (tabernacle?) is made to dance..
Red Jollyboys (Jalebis)- a country sweet, being made on the Fair grounds on top of a mountain..
Flies, babies, courtyards, caring and communication
Post interview debriefing among the participants and translators
The group talks to a man who has some deformities of hands and a lot of hesitation about meeting starngers.. (Probably Leprosy?)
The day started slightly strangely as we woke up and slowly came to realize that the usually excited voices of the children were not present. SMTA was very quiet. We wondered why but neglected to ask anyone where all the children were. As we climbed the 2000 ft to Thanta where we would continue our appreciative inquiry for the day, we came across a few men making brightly coloured sweets and preparing for a fair. We could feel the excitement grow as we entered the village. That’s where all the children were!
The disabilities group went to see a spiritual healer who had lost his legs due to a narrowing of the blood vessels. He was however relatively comfortable with his disability and attributed to something he may have done in a past life. He now serves a great purpose in the village. He showed the group how he would diagnose people with the use of a long dice, and an old book written in ancient sanscrit.
It took time for the women’s health group to assemble women from the village as they were all dressing and preparing for the festival. Once we were all gathered, they were very open. After a while, a man came in and offered us a special treat – snow! Everyone else was excited, but we were a bit iffy about eating unknown water; so we politely refused by saying that in
Quickly it became time to go to the fair, so we were ushered out of the village and joined the flocks of people eagerly going to the fair. This is a special time for all villagers as it is a time when they can gather all together in one spot. With all the mountains and hard work they do, it can be very difficult to visit daughters and sisters who have married into another family and now live far away. There was music and dancing and people selling sweets and jewellery and cold drinks and fruit. We all just wanted to soak it all in and enjoy their culture; however we quickly found that we were becoming the spectacle. Wherever we went there was always a crowd of people following us and watching our every move. A little intimidating at first, but we are now somewhat used to being stared at, so we gave some children stickers brought from
What a great day! Although, what day hasn’t been?
Hope everyone is doing well in
After feeling so tired from our uphill hike the day before, we took a longer but flatter walk to Qwansi village, 8 km down the road. The women’s health group was able to visit the hospital there, which was run by an NGO. It was inspiring to talk to the doctor there, who had grown up in the area and wanted to return to give back to his people rather than work in the city which pays more. It is also really interesting for all of us to learn about the relationship between the different types of health care here. Allopathic, or Western medicine, is not seen as better than others but just different ways of healing. It seems a lot more holistic, to use both Allopathic and Ayruvedic (traditional medicine). The doctor even referrs some patients to an Ayruvedic practitioner for things such as chronic pain, which are little understood in Western medicine.
The Disability group also throughly enjoyed their day in Qwansi, and had the opportunity to talk with the students and staff at the local school. They really felt a bond with many of the people they met, and are eager to go back at another date to continue their discussions.
Just as we were leaving, it began to pour, so we all bundled into out high tech rain gear. Of course, the storm was over in ten minutes, and we were left sweating under all our layers. I guess these suits weren’t made for Indian weather!!
Best wishes to all!!
Wow what a relaxing day!!! Today was our second day off and boy was it needed. Today was spent recovering from those long hikes to the villages and different group members decided on participating in various activities. The boys started off the day by playing cards while the girls did various things such as laundry, playing cards, reading, and journaling. Later on people helped Auntie Maggie in the kitchen with cutting vegetables and fruits. Jonathan says “they taste really good when you cut them yourself.” The rest of the night was spent doing some good old fashioned group bonding. This was the first night where the group really meshed together on the trip and we spent a part of the night on the roof star gazing and telling ghost stories – BOO! Also I just wanted to leave an inspirational mark on the blog from one of Aristotle’s famous quotes “A jug is to pour water, BUT it depends on how many cups you have.” If you don’t get it right away – search harder for the meaning it will come. (I know you love this one Dr. Sachin).
Today we hiked to the town of
Priya left today and this is what she thinks of this experience as translator to SIHI during core module:
“I am going to miss all this- all the love I have received; I have discovered that English as a spoken language is much more than I have read or was taught in school. I have also discovered that when we talk- our culture, our past, everything around us becomes a part of that communication.. I have also discovered the diveristy of my own country.
I also discovered that you can start late, walk slow and still end up first in any race- Don’t you agree Nishu?
Thanks everyone and best wishes to all of you!
This morning, a few of us did yoga on the roof with Dr. Sachin, from . The sun rose at about , and was breath-taking, or perhaps that was the yoga pose at that particular moment J
For breakfast we had roti, bananas, sweetbuns, and black tea, and it’s amazing how much more hungry we feel up in the mountains; must be the fresh air!
At , we left SMTA, and had our first hike down the mountain. One word to describe the climb? Steep. Upon reaching the village called Fediyana, the group split into two subgroups, one being disability and the other being traditional medicine & women’s health. We each went to separate houses and conducted separate interviews. I could describe our findings and what we learned, but that would take up about 4 pages J
After completing the interviews, we met up again and rested at a stream, soaking our aching feet and cooling off. Surrounded by rice fields, whose colour is the most vibrant green I have ever seen, and banana trees, and singing birds, and of course the immense mountains, the whole setting was surreal, like out of a national geographic documentary. I’m in love with the scenery!!!
The climb back up to SMTA is a whole other story. It took about an hour, and may have been one of the biggest challenges ever! Shortness of breath, backs soaked in sweat, legs aching… no amount of time at the gym could have prepared us for this! Many of us find ourselves doubting our ability to do this every day. But, according to Dr. Sachin, we will all be ready (physically fit) for the Himalayan trek that starts June 5th. At least he has hope in usJ
Upon return to SMTA, Maggie had lunch ready for us, and after lunch we had 3 hours to rest. Some chose to rest on the roof, others in the room, but we all appreciated the time to just relax. This is definitely NOT a carribean holiday!!!
Post-dinner, we debriefed for about 2 hours, and each group shared their findings. It was a long first day, but very exciting and I feel so priviledged to be able to learn about the health system and methods of healing of the Juansari people, as well as share my own medical insights with them.
I hope everyone is doing well back in
Lots of love,
Hello everyone! Before I begin to tell you what are second day living in the
The scenery here is incredible, everytime we open our eyes we can’t believe to we get to live in such a beautiful place like this for the next 20 days! Imagine the prettiest movie backdrop of mountains that you’ve seen, this is a small taste of what we get to experience! This beauty also has its downside, climbing them to get to the villages is very physically demanding! We are all managing and getting fitter each day and also gaining insight and appreciation for the lifestyle of the people here as they walk these mountain trails everyday!
It was the second day of our interviews. The physical disability group met a man who had been in a trucking accident and as a result has a severe bone infection in one leg. We also met a man and his family who deal with the challenges of living with epilepsy. The other group met with a variety of women and learned some very interesting ideas surrounding women and children’s health. For instance what do you think about the notion of the more painful a woman’s labor, than the more beautiful the child will be? Or the less a woman works during pregnancy, the lazier the child will be! Has anyone ever sacrificed a goat when they have a son? These are some of the practices and beliefs of some village people that we have discovered through our interview sessions! There are also opportunities for us to share about what we do in
Hope everyone in
Today, as usual, began with yoga for the majority of us – minus the boys – we can generally always count on them to sleep until the food is ready (haha).
One of today’s highlights was today’s afternoon surprise – French toast! It was minus the syrup, but we used ketchup instead. Every day Maggie makes us a pot of tea – today we had tea and French Toast.
- Peace and love,
Today was a very promising day for both groups. The name of the village we visited was Tumroli.The traditional and women’s health group learned lots about the different customs surrounding pregnancy (ie – birthing customs à cutting the umbillical cord is different for boys and girls). The disability group had its first encounter with disabled children. We learned about Sanjay (a deaf and mute child since birth) and Sunil (a child who stammers) and their lifestyles. Mohini absolutely fell in love with the boy and wanted to pack him in her suitcase and take him home! The group was really enlightened on how well disabled children were treated in these villages, something that many of us did not expect. Overall a very productive day for both groups – a very productive and learning experience.
Today we visited a Tibetan settlement in Dehradun. The feel of this place was very different from that of Dehradun – cleanly swept streets, gardens, Asian-like architecture. Obviously, the people living here took great pride in their culture and tried their best to preserve it. The representative who welcomed us was very friendly and hospitable. He showed us around, first taking us to the textile factory, where a bunch of women were weaving colourful bags and rugs, then to a room where incense was being made. We also paid a visit to the school, where the children proceeded to sing us some Tibetan songs. This was a touching moment for many students. Four students felt sick at this point, so they were allowed to stay in the settlement and partake in the weaving and incense-making. The rest piled in the jeeps and traveled to Mussoorie (which to me sounds a lot like
By today the first wave of sickies had overcome the worst of the “Delhi Belly”, so we had a very relaxing and fun day.
First we went to a Sikh temple, Ponta Sahib, in Himanchal Pradesh (a neighbouring state). The people were very welcoming to us even though we are foreigners. They welcome people of all religions and make sure everyone is fed while they visit. Next we went to small lake and rented paddle boats for a calming tour of the area. The calmness eventually turned into bumper boats, but don’t worry parents, we were all wearing life jackets.
After a breat in Vikasnagar for lunch, we did some more sight-seeing to a big rock and an ancient horse sacrificing place. A highlight of these places was a mango orchard that walked through. There we finally answered a question that was on all of our minds: “How many SIHIs can you fit in a mango tree”? You’ll have to wait for the pictures to find out!
Overall, a great bonding day, kudos to Nishu for an awesome Punjabi soundtrack!!
First and foremost I would like to say hello to everyone reading this! I have been appointed to write about May 9ths adventures! So I shall begin by saying that May 9th was the last day in Vikasnagar before we left for Chakrata! We had a special visit from very honorable guests on that day! Doctor Leman and his family joined us in S.M.T.A. He shared with us the historical background of Medical practices in
Finally at Chakrata where we will be spending the next 20 days. The drive here was supposed to be 6 hours but thankfully it turned out to be only 4 hours. The view was amazing: mountains, valleys, lots of greenery and blue skies! We were quite excited about our stay admist the Indian Himalayan mountains for almost a month. We are completely surrounded by mountains, that have never-ending terraces with all sorts of crops: pototoes, rice, wheat.. the list can go on forever. There are all shades of green here!
We are staying at the SMTA hostel in a village called Jakhadar. We arrived as the primary school just ended. Little children in their red and white uniforms greeted us with great delight. After unpacking, we spent our afternoon on the roof of the hostel admiring the beauty of the mountains. I cannot believe how picturesque it is here. I feel like the mountains and trees we see is like a backdrop, a painting, but in fact, it is quite real! We have been basking in the sun on the terrace, and absorbing the sounds of the life around us.
Later that night, Dr. Sachin led us up a nearby mountain to see the sunset. We were a few minutes late, but we all found a comfortable spot and were told to simple listen to the sounds of the sunset! Its astonishing how well sound travels here.
After dinner we got right into our Appreciative Inquiry, starting with mock interviews with the SMTA staff. For the next 20 days we will be learning about the Jaunsari people, a tribe that lives in these mountains. We will interact with them to understand their traditions, culture and way of living, with a specific focus on women’s health, the use of traditional medicine and perspectives on disability. As part of the module, we will by foot visit atleast 8 villages, interviewing villages, teachers, priests/pandits, midwifes, women, men, villagers, doctors, and children. We have to make at least 15 visits for the 20 days we are here! We will definitely come out of this experience being more physically fit if anything! (Way better than the Pulse!!!!!!!)
The boys have their own quarters, and so the girls. We live simply. Have cots with bedding to sleep on, indian style toilets and bathing facilities. It feels like a long sleepover, especially in the girls room. We’re having lots of fun and its only the start!
What I have learned in the mountains: There is noise in silence…
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
1. Morning over the mountains and some yoga..
2. Trust walk: Are we just to research disability or try to understand it from an insider perspective? How does one get under someone else's skin? in someone else's shoes? How do you appreciate and inquire? The group gradually dealt with such questions. A trust walk to understand the emotions and issues faced by visually challenged, followed by "Unspeakable"- a movie on stuttering.
Priya, female translator joins.
Monday, May 7, 2007
The group has agreed to write a brief reflective piece for each day and put it on the blog. Here is the roster:
For the month of May
4 – Lauren (completed)
5 – Raman (completed)
6 – Raman (completed)
7 – John
8 – Madeline
9 – Afrousheh
10 – Mohini
11 – Nora
12 – Trish
14 – Nishu
15 – Madeline
16 – Sarah
17 – Nishu
18 – John
19 – Lauren
20 – Afrousheh
21 – Mohin
22 – Nora
23 – Trish
25 – Raman
26 – Madeline
27 – Sarah
29 – John
30 – Lauren
31 – Afrousheh
For the month of
For the month ofJune
1 – Mohini
2 – Nora
3 – Trish
5 – Raman
6 – Madeline
7 – Sarah
9 – John
10 – Mohini
11 – Nora
12 – Trish
14 – Raman
15 & onwards – optional (share your other-India experiences!)
end of 22nd - Summary from Sachin
Today the SIHIs arrived in Vikasnagar and proceeded to the SMTA hostel, where they were welcomed by Maggie and Reuben, the husband and wife who run SMTA. They explored the SMTA campus a bit and then relaxed in their lovely new dorm rooms! The SIHIs then met up with the translator, Abhishek, and later in the day went to the Vikasnagar market to buy Indian garments. The girls went wild over the silvar curtas while the guys were content with the more simple kurta pajamas. After getting a good deal, the SIHIs headed back to the hostel and met with Dr. Sachin. Each of the SIHIs had to sing a song and were given a nickname based on that song:
Mohini – Frauleine
Madeline – Ozzy
Trish - Newfie
Allison – Chelton
Sarah – Ribbit
Lauren – Genie
Raman – Mr. Sub
Nora – Poka/Poca
Nishu – Belter
John – Rain
Abhishek – Romeo
The group is supposed to use these handles.
Next round of ice breakers was: "What is in a Name?" Here, everyone had to explain the meaning, little histories etc. behind their names. People with triple barreled names had the toughest time! But on the whole it was fun and full of subtle learning.
May 4th to arrival at the hostel
Thursday, May 3, 2007
I am sorry to be posting so late, I was actually away on a trip right after exams! But I would like to say hello to everyone and express how excited I am for today and the month to come! I am actually leaving for the airport in less than two hours! It all seems so real now!!!
I would like to tell you a little about myself! I am in third year Psychology, specializing in Evolution and Social Behavior! I love travelling and experiencing new cultures! Some of my hobbies include reading, dancing, yoga and swimming!
I am very excited to see you all very soon!!!
So, tomorrow is the big day!
How exciting for you! I know you've all worked hard at preparing for this...but...EXPECT the UNEXPECTED, as they say!
I bought another brand new tent the other day and am sending both tents with Chelsea. When Sachin is checking all the trekking equipment with you, he can figure out exactly how much tent accommodation will be needed...but I think we'll be fine now, with this additional tent.
I've got all your parents' emails for use if necessary, but do encourage them to visit the blog and mountain diary.
Take care...enjoy that loooong flight!
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
Raman and I will be there to welcome you at the airport. While you may have seen me in some old pictures, you may have seen Raman hanging out somewhere near “Westdale”! But don’t worry, we will have no difficulty spotting you! So, here is an advance welcome to all of you..
You will have an hour or so to relax at the airport and then transfer to the Mini-bus and then a drive through the plains of northern India to the Himalayan foothills- through sleepy towns, villages, fields etc..
The first thing in Vikasnagar as soon as you have rested and settled in- we will have a detailed planning session, where we will try to answer your questions and plan various events- especially departures, since travel has to be booked in advance to avoid inconvenience at the spur of the moment.
As to Mohini’s query- 16th June, you will be in Vikasnagar (SMTA hostel) and by same evening / night, you all could be in Delhi, if you desired so. So, catching a train in Delhi on 17th June, should not be a problem. But if you all agreed, we can start the trek one day earlier, so that you had more leeway at the end of the trek.
15000 ft is an obvious mis-reading. Most of these popular trails are around 14000 ft. Don’t worry about it anyway. Since you will have enough time to acclimatize. If you don’t, I will know what to do, since I did study Mountain medicine some years back when I was climbing. Problems are rare if you follow the established protocol. The purpose of the one day “test” is to discus these things and to offer individual counseling if needed.
Now, just one thing: How many of you are actually coming? Is there anyone left whose intro is not up?
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
Sorry for not posting sooner, things have been CRAZY!! But now (2 days before we leave) I have time to post... better late than never, right?
I'm really excited to be going to India, although it still hasn't quite sunk in yet that we're going:)
A little bit about me: I'm taking Health Science at school, and I want to go into Dentistry. I'm interested in all aspects of healthcare, so I'm really excited to experience different perspectives on health and ways of living. I love languages, so I'm hoping to pick up a little Hindi in the next few months. In my free time I like to play games with friends (cards, boardgames, hide and seek:) ), play and listen to music, read, and just do "whatever".
I can't wait to finally meet everyone in India, see you all soon!!!
Im totally excited about this trip. Countdown is at 3 days!
Thank you Dr. Sachin for posting the Schedule. Where will we be at the end of the 16th of June? My uncle and cousin are coming from Gujarat to see me. They will reach Delhi by the 15th.
Hopefully there will be no delay, but I will tell them to expect a day atleast if any.
We have a train booked to leave on the 17th for Darjeeling from Delhi. This is why I am concerned. My relatives are waiting on me to confirm the dates. I think we were planning on hanging around in Delhi anyway, until our leave to Darjeeling.
Also, Dr. Karen, thank you for the heads up for the translation. I've been practicing ;) my Hindi.
It'd be awesome to actually use what little I know.
Everyone I have been telling about the trek have been asking how high we will be trekking. I saw on Greggs picture comments one height to be of 15,000 ft. But I dont think its the same trail?
So what exactly will be the highest elevation?
(P.S. This Eco-Trek Fitness Test is making me nervous .... haha)
Finally, we were told to save atleast 100USD for the trek. Could we perhaps confirm this or tell us a rough estimate of how much money we need for the trek. And the money that past SIHI
students brought with them, were they traveller cheques or cash?