well i am at the center and it is much larger and more complicated than i had imagined.
i thought it was going to be mostly outreach and education stuff, and while there is a fledgling department devoted to that, the main aspect of the facility is essentially a hospital, with about 45 patients right now and perhaps 2 dozen staff. Most of those who stay here are in the terminal stages of AIDS and there is a certain quiet that is reminiscent of a hospice.
the campus, as it is called, is actually about 12 km down a rutted road from bangalore proper, which (fortunately or unfortunately depending on one's perspective) means no sneaking off to nightclubs or anything of the sort.
living conditions are disciplined and barrack like; rise at 0630, breakfast by 0730, sexes strictly partitioned. many of the nurses are nuns. food is thin curries over rice. thin curries over rice. and then, just when i was losing hope, additional thin curries over dosas.
i scrub my clothes on a rough washing rock, something i admit ive never done before.. i achieve varied results but i imagine ill be ace at it by the end. i get lost a lot, as the whole thing feels a bit like a maze. my cot has mosquito netting and my roommate is an old nun.the place is quite beautiful and serene, except for the bloodstains and evidence of medical struggle when you look closely.
i am the only white person for miles and i feel very, very foreign. but since everyone lives in very close quarters i don't think the language barrier will keep me isolated for too long. at least i hope. im nervous about being an offensive westerner, but hey, i guess i can't help who i am. anyway.. the patients are always excited for new faces though i havent spent much time with them yet. today an old man in a wheel chair with a ragged sweater that made me want to cry for some reason wheezed out the whole story of how he met and married his wife in some long gone era.
but as for the patients, there is always lot of work to do and i am spending the first few weeks working with them, and then after that helping the community education center work on prevention and education programs, visiting other NGOs in the area, writing critiques and doing research.
all of this, coupled with the fact that all of their computers were destroyed in a power surge a month ago and hence internet is difficult to access, means, i think, that i am going to be spending a LOT of time in my own company. letters are encouraged, please.
and then alone time always makes me think about everyone who isnt here with me or who im out of contact with. ive realized the majority of my hampshire friends either were in new orleans, are there now, or will be soon, so say hi to the city for me. ill git back down someday...
but right now. here i am literally on the other side of the world, and as for the snehadaan center, there's not much to conclude yet, so ill leave you with that.