This post is written by guest writer, Professor Molly McAmis and the USD nursing students accompanying her to Mungeli.
Our 42-hour journey to India began January 6th, 2017 right out of LAX with a 16-hour direct flight to Dubai. After landing in Dubai we connected in New Delhi where we would have an 8-hour layover until flying into our last city, Raipur. However, we weren’t quite there. Our last leg was an interesting and exciting roller coaster ride in the back of an ambulance to Mungeli. Let’s just say the two-hour ambulance ride was most enjoyable with eyes closed.
With eight-hour layovers between flights, we had plenty of time to get to know each other by sharing our previous travel experiences and solving riddles. Along the way, we sampled some local cuisine that was both mouth-watering and spicy. Several short hours later, some of us assumed our favorite yoga poses in the middle of the airport to combat indigestion brought about by eating foreign cuisine and sitting on an airplane all day. Even though it would take some time for our bodies to acclimate to this culture with new flavors, we were well on our way.
Upon arrival to Christian Hospital Mungeli, we were greeted by the senior hospital staff and were served a yummy Indian cuisine for dinner. Afterward, we were shown to our rooms that were co-inhabited with a variety of native spiders and lizards. After an icy-cold shower (no hot water), we all passed out on our thin, rock-hard mattresses.
We woke up that very morning, stiff as a board, to the sound of mosque prayers and a screeching cat; quite an awkward combo! After being served breakfast, we toured the hospital. We were so amazed by the number of people the hospital served, and the amount of work the senior staff were incorporating into improving the quality of care provided. While Daniel, Hez, and Marley saw a record 32 surgeries in the Operating Theatre (Operating Room) that afternoon, Bessie and Aishvarya got to see how each ward, doctor’s office, and clinics were organized. After watching MD/RN rounds, obtaining SBAR on patients, and seeing surgeries up close, we certainly learned a lot about rural Indian healthcare.
Later that afternoon, several of our team members gowned up to assist in some surgical procedures. Before entering the OR, we had to slip off our shoes and put on a pair of flip-flops, with socks or bare feet – another cultural difference! After changing into OR scrubs, and donning a cap and mask, we were ready to enter the procedural area. Having never seen a Cesarean section before, Daniel was very excited when Swaran, the head OR nurse, instructed him to scrub in for the C-section. Amazingly, just moments after the initial incision was made by the surgeon, Daniel felt his hand pushing on the mother’s abdomen to help deliver a new life into the world, a beautiful baby girl! While lending a hand to the surgeon and OR nurse during suturing, his colleagues Hezekiah and Marley, promptly stepped in to effectively manage the mother’s dropping blood pressure. It was incredibly surreal how we became part of the amazing OR team, and will be one of the many experiences in Mungeli we will not forget.
We concluded the day at the Hospital Director’s poolside bungalow, where he treated us to dinner and karaoke. We reflected on the day and learned that while some of us got a history lesson of India, some of us learned how to ride a motorbike. Others experienced face to face contact with child-size monkeys, admired the hospital parakeet sanctuary and consumed endless chai teas, samosas and popcorn. We even survived an Indian monsoon storm and electrical power loss. We are now starting to acclimate to the India culture.
Lastly, we will leave you with a few tips traveling to India and a summary of what we have learned.
- You can improve your communication skills by using broken English, blank stares and/or Pictionary
- Capture the special moments by taking National Geographic quality pictures
- Stay awake and keep fresh by taking cold showers
- Stay malaria free by slathering on mosquito repellent creams and swatting your colleagues when you see one land on their back
- Enjoy the spiciness of food and finding new taste buds you didn’t know you had
- Don’t drink tap water, but eat meals with your hands
- Learn how to distinguish the various Indian head bobs and clothing fashions
- There are skinny cows and goats. And did we mention dust?
- Adjust to the time difference and battle jetlag with more coffee.
- Calculate currency by using a converting App.
- Pronunciation of Indian names is difficult.
- Crowds don’t know how to form a line and there is plenty of disorganized chaos
- Indian Airports 101
- If your checked bag is 1 ounce over, be prepared to repack at the drop of a hat in front of a long line of other passengers.
- However, don’t pack too much in your carry-on because if it exceeds 22kg, you’re definitely paying 5400 rupees, and not 22 rupees.
- One thing to keep in mind is that you can’t pay for your extra bag at the desk…You guessed it right, you must walk across the entire airport and stand in a mob of people and fight your way to the front.
- You won’t make it pass customs until you show several stressful tears and prove every item in your carry on is safe, including Chapstick.
- Lastly, be sure to smile when exchanging currency and with any interaction no matter the response in return 🙂