Friday, December 14, 2007

a ride from the clinic

last week i managed to pour boiling water all over my hand. after googling 'burn boiling water first aid' and finding that anything as large as the area i had covered required 'immediate medical attention,' i was forced to overcome my instinctive resistance to visits to doctors. but a late evening trip to a local clinic just four minutes up the road proved extremely successful - it turned out to be run by a small community of indian women who are also catholic nuns, one a doctor trained in austria and three nurses. they all live onsite, and when we arrived, well after the clinic's closing hours, found them praying together in a simple chapel in back. a sister interrupted her devotions to come out and immediately said of course we will treat you. they did, and refused to accept payment for the service or medication. i came away with a very wholesome looking gunk to plaster over my burn, an admiration for the lives these women are leading and a renewed respect for the service work that christians can be found doing.

unfortunately, my visits to the clinic did not end there. though my hand is healing very nicely, a fairly debilitating stomach bug decided its turns was next. so after spending most of the week in bed i returned today. they put me on cipro, offered me a cup of tea, and sent me back home. i had taken my camera with me hoping to take a photo of their image of christ seated cross-legged with one hand in meditation posture, the other on classic buddhist gesture offering fearlessness or security. remembering on the rickshaw i failed to do so, i took random photos of the series of images that i see regularly during my daily five-minute ride to the tibetan institute. none are remarkable photos, nor were they taken with much care. in fact, they are so ordinary i look forward to viewing them later just for the nostalgia that is best fed by what is ordinary, but only in a given context.

what you see is in the order i passed it during the brief ride, all extraordinarily unworthy of notice here. sit on the edge of your seat, spine straight, and scroll lazily through these images if you want a sense of my ride home: - young girl playing outside gate (above)

- an outdoor barber shop; note brick floor

- a woman walking barefoot down the street (rickshaw driver's back in the extreme foreground)

- a roadside sweet shop cum pan shop cum chai shop with patient client in seating area,

- a cyclist picking his way between cow and her calf,

- a home shuttered up and in disuse,

- a man transporting the gas tanks used in any home that can afford to upgrade from cow dung or coal fires for cooking,

- a roadside furniture shop (manufacturing and sales outlet),

- vegetable stand next to barber shop (sarnath has what seems to me more than its fair share of barber shops for some reason - this is one of at least seven i pass daily),

- an elderly woman pictured near her home making patties out of cow dung to use for fuel, surrounded by goats on excruciatingly short tethers and paan shop,

- motorcycle repair shop (hero honda being the country's most popular model)

- cow hobbled by rope linking neck and leg so it cannot stray far, driver wiping down car while waiting for owner and ad for a local private school

- field of gracious trees crisscrossed by paths villagers take to reach the road - also doubles as cricket ground and garbage dump

- front yard mill - also doubles as laundry drying rack and little boy's plaything

- unmarried girls chatting on strong cot, family buffalo looking longingly at fodder bin

- dharmachakra gate to private home

- roadside grocer

- cow plays her part in the village's ad hoc recycling process

- our neighbor's servant giving directions to a motorist

so: do those of you who have been to india feel nostalgic or what? please leave a comment: they are most welcome and all-too-few on this blog!


Gyalten said...

Hi Damcho!

I check your blog at least once every other day, usually more often, and - as always - love to read your beautiful writing and see the pictures! so sorry about your hand..... I hope that gets better soon.

I love all the posts since you returned!


Gyalten said...

ps maybe you can sneak back and take a picture of that Christ figure in Buddhist pose. I would LOVE to see that!


damchö said...

thanks so much for your kind comments, mindrol-la - it is really nice to have some two-way communication for a change!

the sisters invited me back to visit them on christmas. i plan to do so, and will be sure to take the photo then. lots of photos, in fact.


myfaultsorry said...

I have never been to India, can I still comment? Your pictures are so beautiful, you have really developed a way of seeing the interesting detail--I love for example the geometry in both the trees and the neighbor's servant pictures. Really very nice. You really need to be shooting film.