I’m writing you, sitting on the floor of my amma’s (Tamil for mom) friend’s house. I just finished playing several rounds of tickle wars with my homestay cousins, Vishwa, age 4 and Harsha, age 9. It’s a bit cooler than usual because it rained last night, so the weather outside is perfect. The past week has been quite eventful. We spent the weekend in Pondicherry, also called “Pondy” which used to be a French colony in India. It’s known for its beautiful beach and is a big weekend spot for a lot of families and couples. On the beach is a huge statue of Gandhi. It reminded me a lot of the MLK memorial in DC. Thinking about the relationship between the two was inspiring since Dr. King adopted and followed a lot of Gandhi’s values. I also did a good amount of shopping in Pondy at their Sunday market, which was quite an experience. I’ve began to adopt the rupee mentality where I find myself haggling back and forth over 20-50 rupees which I always later remind myself that it’s barely even a dollar. I guess its the principle…because I’m a foreigner, I’m almost always charged more so I’ve become quite the bargainer.
This week, we also began our case studies. I’ve decided to examine women and children’s health across all the countries we travel to this semester. I was so lucky to visit one of the largest government hospitals for women and children yesterday and it was an amazing experience. I spoke to one of the physicians there with some of my classmates and later got a tour of the hospital. The most memorable was definitely the labor and delivery room. These women did not have their own private rooms. The only thing separating them from the woman on the next bed was a curtain. Women were screaming as their birth companions (usually a female family member) held them, coached them, and comforted them as much they could. At the back of the room was a woman who had just delivered her second child, holding the baby boy for the first time. He was about 2 minutes old, smiling ear to ear, wrapped up nice and snug in a dark blue blanket. The room was filled with so many emotions. At the same time were both one of the most agonizingly painful and one of the most joyous parts of life. I will never forget that moment and all of the inspiring women in that room, who were so resilient, so strong, and so beautiful.