I'm bubbling over with enthusiasm, expectations, and anticipation. Or something like that. Since my return to the villages Saturday, I've been furiously list-writing daily- a sure sign that I'm in getshitdone mode. On Sunday, I met with our recently acquired Dr. Rajendar, a pediatric doctor who runs his own practice in nearby Siddipet, and nurse Nagalaxmi, who works at the local government clinic. In an amazing feat of cross-lingual communication (navigating two generally bilinguals, one flailing attempt at bilingualness, and one constrained to Telugu), we planned how best to orchestrate two recurring education programs- one for children, and one for adults. Check my previous posts for les details.
And today, Dr. Rajendar made his long awaited debut in the villages. And he handled it LIKE A BOSS. I was so inspired that I'm pretty much just blogging about it to vent my exuberance about today and my frust about not being a doctor yet myself.
He arrived 15 minutes early (gasp!), and I had to eat a mango on the go for lunch on my way to the clinic (you can imagine how incredibly disappointed I was by this). First good omen: he came prepared in walking shoes and with a water bottle, and was already chatting with an elderly man on the road when I rolled up. I had told him that rather than going straight to work in the clinic this first day, I wanted to walk around Mathpally and Medinapur with him, introduce him to the people he'd be treating. The lofty anthropology-based Brown University thinking behind this lies in the utter failure of the first doctor we hired- he saw maybe three patients a day max. On a good day. During my ethnographic research, one villager told me he was a “crack guy”. He was in fact not a 'crack guy', but a certified and very well meaning MBBS doctor (the Indian equivalent to an MD). But something was missing communication wise, and I refuse to let that happen to our latest debutant, Dr. Rajendar.
And hence the walking shoes. Now, walking around the village to introduce the doctor sounds idyllic and very bare-foot-doctory, but is quite daunting in practice. Strolling into random strangers' homes, especially strangers you can't really communicate with, can be awkward. But as Dumbledore (and other vaguely British types) would say, poppycock. Dr. Rajendar simply walked up to an open door, introduced himself, explained that he'd be at the clinic every Wednesday, and shook some hands. I stood in the background, in awe. Of course our roamings eventually attracted attention, and small curious cluster swould gather around us every now and then. It didn't take long before villagers began to bring our their medical charts and sick children, complaining of this insistent back pain and that stubborn rash. Thinking that I was the doctor (there's that being white business again), one woman showed me her right foot, which was more or less triangle shaped and had only had two toes left on it. Baller that he is, Dr. Rajendar jovially went right on chatting and giggling with his new patients (he has a very endearing almost girly giggle, which sometimes explodes forth from him without any warning whatsoever), examining old x-rays and prescriptions, giving what I can only assume was medically sound advice (considering I'm just a 'chinna chinna pappu', small small baby, in both Telugu and medicine, as Dr. Rajendar joked to me).
The moment of truth, the meeting of Dr. and RMP-city dwelling college educated newcomer vs. village hailing semi-quack old timer-went amazing well; though in all honesty I can't tell if it was genuine or just pleasantries. Either way, the two men sat on a wooden bench in the RMP's home and chatted amiably about the clinic and (yikes!) me for a solid fifteen minutes.
Five whole hours rather uncharacteristically whizzed on by, and now I eagerly await next Wednesday, the real test. Will they come? Will they like him? Is he up to guerrilla style medicine, sans nurse and most of the usual medical instruments? And, of course, can I pull off four education programs (specifically, two programs in two villages) in the next two weeks?
All that and more, coming up soon :)