Sunday, August 23, 2015

"Tum Pagal Ho"

In other words, "You are crazy". A useful phrase Smriti, the resident director of our study abroad program, uses when the nine of us rather clueless chickens with our heads cut off are in her office, scrambling around and asking her to do a million things at once, not to mention eat all of her chocolate. However, I--we--have learned that Smriti actually can do a million things at once (she has two mobile phones to prove it) and, despite the stress, has been described by each of us as "one of the coolest people I've ever met". I've added her to my Empowering Female Role Model list (an internal list) and she has a great sense of humor. We jokingly call her "mom" sometimes because of how caring she is of us. In short, Smriti has made my experience thus far something far smoother and more fun than I ever imagined and I hope she is loving Manipal as much as I! Anyway... This week was awesome! Classes started Monday and school is beginning to set in. My classes this semester all deal with public health, except Indian Contemporary Culture, so I am very excited to get my hands dirty with what my degree is in! Besides the culture class, which has proved to be very interesting so far, I am taking Ayurveda Traditions and Healing, Basic Epidemiology, Maternal and Child Health, and Directed Research. All have proven to be quite interesting so far, and all of my professors are very open to answering “doubts” or questions. For directed research, I have decided to focus on malaria control practices in Udupi Taluk, and under the guidance of Dr. Aarthy Ramasamy, am going to interview key stakeholders, such as the district malaria officer, to understand how malaria is best controlled in the area. Before undertaking this research, I had the misconception that malaria was a huge problem where I am now, but, in fact, it is not. Because of this, I will actually be evaluating for which methods were most effective in hopes that other districts and communities still trying to control malaria could possibly emulate. I am very excited to conduct these interviews and am so thankful for this opportunity and for the guidance of the wonderful doctor I mentioned above (she is awesome!). When I was not in class… We went to Malpe Beach! Last Monday, the Study Abroad Program took a 20-minute bus ride to Malpe Beach, a beautiful strip of tucked-away land hugging the Arabian Sea. The water was an alluring temperature, though we did not swim because of the dangerous under-toe. An awesome statue of MK Gandhi welcomed us to the beach. Pictures posted below (Please note the fantastic photo bomb of Emilie's sweeping candid performed by my favorite person, Tanzeela...I have great friends).
We also took our first field visit this past Friday. We learned about the first level of healthcare that is most directly connected to the community, Public Health Centers (PHCs). At these centers, adults and children can come to receive routine vaccinations (i.e. measles), receive maternal education and materials, learn about water sanitation, receive HIV testing and counseling, receive Tuberculosis treatments, and the list goes on. The US equivalent for a PHC would be a free clinic (all services at the PHC are free). I learned quite a bit about community/village-level healthcare at the PHC and it was great to get exposure to the setting. I would post a picture, but they trusted us to only take pictures for academic purposes, so I will not be posting any here. Additionally… From the positive peer pressure of my great friend, Emilie, I took up dancing as an extracurricular here at Manipal! I am so glad I did take this opportunity because who knows when I will get completely authentic and free dance classes again. Our teacher is amazing and very humble for her accomplishments; she does a ton of commercials and is one of the most incredible dancers I have ever seen. The classical dance is called Bharatanatym, and Nataraja (dancing Shiva), is the Hindu god that represents dance. Hand movements are called hastas and there are too many to count. I posted a link on the side of the blog that depicts these hand movements. My favorite is tirupatakakum in which you keep all your fingers out and stiff, except your ring finger on each hand. In Baratanatym, you keep all your moves swift. Then, you use these movements, your eyes, and your smile to tell a story. We will be performing, costumes and all, at the end of the semester with a full-blown audience. I hope my previous marching band skills help me out (shoutout to Keith Levin). When I told my mom I was taking dance she exclaimed, “Yet another dancer in the Janicke bloodline!” I better get practicing. I would post pictures of our dance, but my phone screen is not responding, so I do not have access to my pictures from the last few days. Hopefully, I can recover them soon and also show what a rickshaw looks like! Tata for now...
Thank you for reading!