Monday, January 30, 2012

Indian Medicine

Sign at the Clinic

X-Raying the goat

Goat in the Tuk-Tuk

Cathy, Doctor and his wife (also a doctor)

Today was our penultimate day in Rajasthan. It certainly turned out different from what we expected. We started out by going shopping (what else is new?). After making our final donation to the local economy, we returned to the hotel.

Cathy has had a cough for the last 5 weeks and has treated it but it hasn’t completely gone away. She decided that she should see a doctor. The hotel called one, and fifteen minutes later an doctor appeared at our hotel room door. He reminded me of the old time country doctor you would see in the movie. After examining Cathy he prescribed some western medicine and some Ayurvedic, medicine. Ayurvedic is a traditional Indian medicine that is very ancient, and non-western. He gave her all of the medicines that he prescribed and charged us a total of $ 30 for everything, including his house call. He said we should come to his clinic around 6 pm, so he could see how she was doing. We had also asked him for some codeine cough syrup and he said he would have it waiting for us at the clinic.

We spent the next couple of hours lying around the pool at the hotel reading and watching the person whose only job was to chase away birds from the pool area. He had a black flag and would wave them near the birds and they would fly away, only to return a few minutes later. How would you like to spend your day doing that job?

Because we are flying to the South of India tomorrow, we decided to ship home all of our cold weather clothing and the books that we bought at the Jaipur Literary Festival. DHL came to our room, and in a surprise to us, they were amazingly efficient, and quickly boxed up what we wanted to ship.

It was then time to go the Clinic. This was a wonderful experience for us.  Behind the registration desk a sign was posted warning that the determination of the sex of a fetus is illegal in India. Sex selection is a major problem in Asia, where males desired. Because of the abortions of women there is a serious problem of more men then women in the society.

This was 2nd world medicine. The people at the clinic were all extremely poor. They patiently waited their turn, staring at the two white people sitting next to them in the waiting area.  When the doctor arrived he quickly escorted us into his tiny office and presented us with a bottle of codeine cough medicine, decided I needed both antibiotics and Ayurvedic medicine (I don’t feel I did, but didn’t want to argue). He refused any payment. He then said he wanted to show us a procedure that was happening. I figured broken arm, heart problem, acute diarrhea. But no, we go into a room a four men are lifting a live goat onto the table to take an x-ray. I feel sorry for the poor goat, who was being  x-rayed to see if it was pregnant. You know how when x-ray’s are taken in America, lead vests are used, and people stand behind protected walls. Not here, everyone just milled around while the x-ray’s were taken. We examined the x-ray’s and the goat wasn’t pregnant.

The doctor then showed us some of the technical equipment for blood analysis and other medical testing, the equipment looked relatively modern, but everything was very dusty.

Like a scene out of the Shah Rkuh Khan movie: Swades, we were desperately trying to stay sanitized constantly using antiseptic hand cleaner. The doctor then asked if we would like some Tea. Tea is constantly being offered, and it is impolite to refuse. The tea came in little glasses that clearly weren’t clean. We silently debated with each ourselves and decided the hot tea would kill any germs and we were going to take antibiotics anyway.

He then drove us to his other clinic run by his doctor wife. She was a bundle of happy energy. They were a great couple and have a son that lives in Los Angeles. I am sure we will be seeing them again! I offered to make a donation to the clinic, at first he refused and then allowed me to. We felt very good about donating to a clinic that is run by such good people and clearly are helping the poor and the occasional goat.

Today is a dry day in India, meaning no alcohol is served in India. It is the anniversary of the assignation of Mahatma Gandhi. The hotel bar was closed! They did inform us that people with foreign passports could purchase drinks in the restaurant just not the bar. That worked for us.

I have found a new way to charm the waiters and waitresses. I look at their name tags, with names like Mannu or Uuma and I attempt to write their name in Hindi. They are surprised that I can. Even in English, I am a bad speller, so I don’t feel bad mis-spelling the Hindi script, but I actually get some right. They really are pleased.

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