Monday, February 01, 2010

Tidying up

Eventually Celine and I managed to get the bones of a website written. Her story is so interesting that it was not hard to get some amazing things to write on it. I feel that there will be something on the internet in a month or so which is very exciting. As soon as something occurs I will post the link on the blog and facebook in case anyone is still reading by then.

On my last day at RUHSA, we were also talking about trying to set up a RUHSA website in order for them to raise funds or their elderly projects. It would be impossible for the elderly projects to be fully sustainable; in the UK, welfare centres are rarely fully sustainable, they usually get a grant of some variety, so I think it is unreasonable to expect the extremely poor elderly people in India to be able to fully fund a centre - if they were able to generate enough income to do that, they wouldn't need the centre in the first place. Anyway, it will be an exciting departure for RUHSA to be more proactve about it's future. Interestingly I heard that the German charity supporting the main hospital has become disillusioned with raising money for the highly technological and advanced CMC with it's renal transplants because money doesn't go very far towards funding such high tech stuff and it is not reaching the poorest anymore, so with luck RUHSA with it's grass roots projects will generate much appeal because not only will the money go further - a full annual wage for an OT to develop the whole mental health project for KV Kuppam block, with a population of 120,000, costs a fraction of a renal transplant procedure. I am thinking of doing a display for the surgery for our "Market Street Overseas" noticeboard to compete with Ann (our practice nurses) fund raising for Sudan vaccination programs. Let the fight begin!

The conclusion of my trip was absolutely lovely. One of the highlights of the last week was a dinner party held at Kudla - a Manglorean fish restaurant. It's so easy to be generous in India, taking 8 people out for a fancy pancy meal costs about the same as a Valentine evening for a couple. All my favourite people in India came - Arun, his son and mother, Celine, Victoria, Sudhir and Richard Smith, the Director of Friends of Vellore, without whom none of this would have even happened. Everyone had a great time, the food was delicious and messy - not something for a first date. Most people hadn't met each other before, but there were many connections made. I had a lovely time.

After that, I went to Ooty which I had never visited before. Although many people are disillusioned by its commercialisation, it still retains some colonial charm. I took the "toy" train through the tea estates, which is almost as famous as the Darjeeling toy train. We stayed in a log cabin in the middle of a wildlife park in the core area and then coming back from dinner one evening, there was a distinct trumpeting sound which nearly caused Arun to drive off the road in shock. As we swept round the corner, we saw the unmistakable outline of a pachyderm and her baby having a midnight snack. Arun drove to a friends camp where there is a watchtower and by the light of a full moon we gradually accommodated to see a herd of elephants with a couple of accompanying bison grazing in front of us. It was so funny to think that the munching sound, which could have been made by an enthusiastic cow was actually made by wild elephants. They were adorable. Then we went back to our camp and whilst we were sitting outside having a chat on the veranda, there was vigourous rustling sounding about 10m away in the forest. There, the main tree is teak and now is the season for shedding leaves. Teak are beautiful and broad leafed with slender, silky trunks. The leaves are huge and heavy and when one falls to the ground, it sounds like a paperback book falling off a shelf in the library. The dry leaves on the ground, if disturbed, sound like autumn leaves amplified unbearably. So the rustling was disturbingly loud. I thought it must be a huge creature like another elephant or perhaps a bear, but in the end I startled 2 wild pigs who ran off in terror, unaware that their heart rate and mine might have been uncannily similar.

Spending time in the forest was a lovely end to a fabulous trip. So much has been accomplished and relationships have been further forged. I think I will return in a couple of months, but don't tell anyone yet.

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