Wednesday, September 9, 2009; Day 17-18: India; 3:11 AM
We took an ambulance home from the nursing home. It’s a mini-bus equipped with oxygen. Two men carry the stretcher in the air (no wheels!) with handles on both sides. I helped carry one corner because one of the men was a skinny young man who couldn’t handle the weight. He kept going lower than I was carrying it so I ended up hunching my back to keep it even so my grandma wouldn’t slip off. I remember this one video on failblog where they used a pickup truck as an ambulance and as they drove off the patient went flying off the bed of the truck because he wasn’t secured down.
The emergency number for police here is 100. No one ever calls that number. You’re asking for trouble if you call the police for any matter. Whoever doesn’t bribe the highest goes to jail. So you better have deep pockets if you hit 1-0-0. The number for medical emergencies is 108. I’m not sure if it’s free, but people have told me that the government started it. It takes forever for the ambulance to reach the house, especially in the old city. Typically an auto rickshaw is used, as I explained before. Autos should come equipped with sirens and lights.
Yesterday as the azan (call to prayer) was going on, I went upstairs on the roof to see where they were coming from. There must have been at least a dozen masjids within a half-mile radius that were giving the azan simultaneously. It was priceless. In America, the azan for the most part is limited to the masjid. There are a few that are able to project it outside – Masjid Taqwa and Masjid Farooq in Brooklyn are two examples.
I’ve been taking hot baths for the past week. I purchased a portable hot water heater with my brother-in-law that you can plug in and set into a bucket of water, and within 5 minutes you have hot water. It’s way better than the tachycardia-terminating ice water that you have to deal with. But, I’ll tell you a neat trick. During the summer months, and during the morning that the sun is out in it’s full glory, wake up early and take a shower from the shower head and you will have a nice hot shower. This is because the pipes that are running on the roof are exposed to the heat of the sun and the water warms up. But, be careful or as my brother-in-law says, “dekh khe, kyu kain kabhi itna garam rehta hain, ke paande ki chamrdi nikal jaata.” Translate that. (lol, it means, “be careful, because sometimes it’s so hot that you’ll burn the skin right off your a**”).
My mom, khala and sister’s husband left on Monday. My brother-in-law doesn’t really like India much it seems. He hasn’t been here in 9 years. I think I’m becoming more Indian than him. Hah! I just found out that one of my friends (starts with a D, rhymes with Amish) moved to the old city when he was 8 from a village and can’t stand the old city. Double-hah! I’m a straight up old city thug that moved to Brooklyn. Deal wit it cuz!
We just finished smoking out all the mosquitoes in the house with “ooodh.” It smells nice. It’s made of pieces hardened sap (at least that’s the conclusion we came to after 5 minutes of discussion, I’ll ask my 90-year-old grandpa later) that is burned on hot coals, similar to a hookah. The smoke then fills the room and all the mosquitoes run away. It leaves a smell of what a barbeque of flowers and cologne would be like.
My nani is about the same. We’re looking to get a private-duty nurse to assist with medication administration and bedsore care. Everyone has an opinion of what is going on, and would like me to consider it. It’s like all the midlevel providers (nurse practitioners, physician assistance, all the R.N.’s who have 16 letters after their name – a physician told me that you’ll hardly find any letters of certification after M.D. because it says enough) who want to put their two cents in the management of care. Ultimately the responsibility of those decisions rests on the physician. Not to be cocky, but the problem is, if I’m swayed by everyone’s opinion and ultimately make a decision not based on my level of education and experience, but rather based on a gut-feeling by a nurses aid or my aunt, and if then an untoward event occurs, I will be left standing alone hung out to dry.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009; Day 18 (again, I know); 11:00 AM
I just went out for a walk in 85-degree sun for an hour. I couldn’t sleep and the modem wasn’t turned on (it’s in my brother-in-law’s apartment, and he’s sleeping) so I couldn’t sit on the internet.
The first thing I noticed was how bright everything was. I had forgotten how beautiful the sun looks in India. Reminds me of the Islands. The other thing is the animals. In a major city like Hyderabad, you really shouldn’t see too many animals. Even in Chicago, I was shocked the first time I saw a skunk and then a few days later I saw a rabbit running around the sitting area out in front of the apartment complex. You’d never see that in New York City. Roaches maybe, but never a rabbit. Anyway, as soon as I stepped out I saw goats, cats, dogs, a horse, and a camel. Holy guacamole! A camel? They are huge animals. I think a camel would pwn a horse anyday.
So I walked around the alleys and smaller streets. The houses are very large and elaborate. There were several construction projects going on. A lot of villagers come to Hyderabad to find labor work like these. Some houses were 3 or 4 stories tall. I saw one with a huge staircase being built in the foyer. They’re painted all super-bright colors. Fluorescent yellow, purple and pink. It’s just like St. Kitts again.
I stopped walking around alleys when someone spit on my head. At least I think it was spit. I was passing by a primary school, and a drop of something fell on my head. It wasn’t slimy or sticky or anything and felt like water. I looked up and there was no water dripping from anywhere, no did I see anyone. I did hear the sounds of children practicing something out loud together in class. I doubt the teacher would have let them lean out the window for a quick spit. Hopefully it was just water from last nights rain. I did wash my hands and face when I got home, just to be sure.
I ended up walking to a main intersection, went to a supermarket and picked up some Gems (the Indian version of M&Ms). Now I’m busted. I’m gonna set an alarm to wake up for Zuhr, cuz I can’t keep missing it. It’s at 1:45 at the Ahlul-Sunnah wa Jamat Masjid. These people are the normal Muslims, who don’t worship graves or sing weird songs, so I like going there. It’s the furthest of the 3 masjids, which are actually all within 1 minute walking distance from the house.