With so much writing being done for the grant, I’ve been a little uninspired to write for the blog =S. There is only so much sitting at my computer in Kathmandu that I can take!
This week has flown by – it feels like only yesterday that I was visiting an organic farm or getting an up close and personal observation of a surgery, UP CLOSE and PERSONAL. How am I handling such extremes?! Lots and lots of writing.
It’s planting season here in Nepal, and Saturday we had the opportunity to venture outside the city (again) and visit the Youth Co-op Organic Farm, the brainchild of Indira – a remarkable woman whom I have had the opportunity to interview as one of my influential women of Nepal. But more on her later.
The farm(s) were beautiful. And although wheat fields are replaced with rice paddies, and the flat plains replaced by mountains, I felt right at home. The co-op grows an abundance of mushrooms, potatoes, tomatoes, cauliflower, and you guessed it – rice. It has 500 members and whatever they don’t use is sold in the market.
We toured the rice patties, a tomato vineyard, and then made our way up to Shangri-La, Indira’s summer home halfway up a hill. The view from the ‘summer home’ was almost as inspiring as the life stories and wise wisdom that Indira and Kundu had to share with us.Indira started the women’s empowerment NGO Shtrii Shakti (again, more on her later) and Kundu is chief of OBGYN at the Patan Hospital, both of which I visited this past week.
While there, we had a traditional Nepali meal made entirely out of the fresh goodies produced by the co-op (don’t worry, I got in the kitchen to see how it was prepared for future cooking adventures back in Mn!). We had spiced aloo (potato), some type of mushroom saute, and a tomato-egg combo over rice – yeah, I’m not too saavy with the technical Nepali names yet.
After a few hours of chatting, we sadly headed back into the dusty, dirty city.
Tuesday was a completely different kind of day. For starters, we hardly had time to eat (I had a granola bar in the taxi) as we headed out at 7 a.m. for the Patan Hosptal. Megan, Jess, Corbin and I took a self-guided tour of the maternity ward as we searched for some type of front desk. We finally found an administration office and finally located Dr. Kundu. She is an incredibly busy woman, serving not only Patan Hospital, but a few others on the side as well.
I really wasn’t expecting to be invited in to witness surgery, otherwise I would have had a larger breakfast. We put on some borrowed scrubs, face masks, and sandals and headed into the very hot and humid operating area. The first surgery we Corbin watched was the removal of a large tumor on a woman’s ovary, while Jess and Megan witnessed a hysterectomy. The woman wasn’t even put to sleep when we first walked in, and as her heart rate began to climb, mine did as well. And then I had to leave the room as I barely made it out conscious – an intern caught me on the way out.
A bottle of water and a samosa later, I was ready for surgery round two! This time it was a Caesarian section. It was smelly, bloody, and the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. The woman gave birth to a presumably healthy baby boy. And I only had to leave the room once (it was still very hot in the operating room, and I was still a little light headed from the previous *attempted surgery observation. I didn’t take pictures of this experience for obvious reasons.
While the other three went on an official tour of the entire hospital complex, I took off for my scheduled interview with Indira across town. Finally, more on her later – she deserves her own post.
I hope that everyone has a wonderful Fourth of July weekend back in the States – hopefully we will be able to find some other American expats, sparklers and some veggie burgers (don’t know if I trust eating real meat here…). After that, it’s off to Pokhara, where we will be doing 8 days of trekking to the Annapurna Base Camp (ABC).