I'm here! After months of preparation, well not actual preparation but thinking about preparation, I have finally arrived. The flight was pretty comfortable and I ate two meals, watched two films and slept intermittently over the course of my 13 hour journey. I feel the weight dropping off already. Subsequently, I have sweated at least a further quarter of my body weight again. Maybe I won't need this worm after all.
I felt very important when I got off the plane at Chennai (Madras), because as I emerged blinking from the featureless baggage reclaim area into the hot, dusty, busy bustle of the airport complex, there was a smiling man holding a placard with "Dr Arabella Onslow" on it. I felt like running around the airport shouting that's me, I have a placard all of my own! Except of course it was far to hot to move faster than a drawl. I swished past everyong else haggling for a taxi and got into a (non-ambassador) airconditioned car!!!! Sadly the whole image of Important Visiting Doctor was somewhat ruined by my sweaty look and bulging rucksack with dangling straps.
Then we entered the world of Indian Rush Hour. A civilisation in itself. Some things haven't changed in 20 years - namely the sheer number and variety of forms of transport on the road and of course the sheer numbers and varieties of bodies piled on each mode of transport. Most impressive of course being the phutting moped carrying every member of extended families, all of whom were wearing flowing robes and none of whom were wearing helmets. I think the most I saw was 5 people on one moped.
The most joyous moment was seeing an autorickshaw - basically a three wheeled moped with a yellow and black canopy - advertising a jeep cherokee 4x4 on it's back window. On wonders who the targe audience for that advert might be.
After a 2 1/2 hour drive I arrived at the RUHSA campus where I shall be based from now on. It is 25km outsde Vellore and unfortunately receives no mobile signal, but I shall get a local sim card to speak to people inside India and receive texts from outside. My IVD (important visiting doctor) status continued as I was introduced to various people, but it was clear they were all slightly wondering what I was actually doing there. Yesterday I mostly slept, but today was very useful as I spent it with the representative of the UK charity on whose behalf I am here and we visited various rural sites and learnt more about the projects needing to be started, but most importantly of all, the director, Dr KR John who was my one contact in Vellore, is really happy and excited to have me on board and is already busy planning what useful things I can do.
So, all in all it looks really promising and I am very much looking forward to seeing how things develop.
One downside (here comes obligaory reference to bowel habits) my knees are going to kill after 6m of having to squat. I'm thinking of investing in a commode.