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Physics and fiction January 8, 2014

Posted by therealtinlizzy in India.

Oy – found that so much was packed into the weekend that I needed some time to just savor it all, to let it percolate and kick around in my brain without diving straight to writing. Trying to get back in gear today in capturing some impressions from yesterday’s field trip, and there were so many – I could barely scribble them down fast enough.

Actually though, first thing’s first: I had the time of my life riding in the back of the van from Mysore to the Vivekananda Memorial Hospital (and back again). I found myself giggling like a ridiculous child on a roller-coaster every time the van bottomed out in a hole – tossing us around like rocks in a tumbler, or each time we passed (i.e. near-missed by improbable millimeters due to government by some local laws of physics entirely different than those which govern U.S. traffic) lumbering cows & oxen, trotting flocks of sheep, bounding goats, strolling adults, darting children, lurching buses, ambling bikes, or small trailers/rickshaws piled comically high & wide with straw (or some reasonable facsimile thereof) at 100km/hour. Seriously – people pay for rides like this at amusement parks.

This vid clip isn’t from yesterday, there would have been no way to capture vid without the pic being so jostled about that you would either be unable to see anything, or you would incur your own motion sickness by-proxy. This snippet is from our drive to visit Bhara Chukki Falls, via paved and mostly smooth roads; however it’s an ever so brief glimpse of what driving is like here. A few rules of thumb:

  1. everyone drives on the left, except when they don’t;
  2. the middle line is (or any lines are) superfluous;
  3. no speed limits (that are enforced) – everyone drives as fast as their particular vehicles go, or that road conditions allow for;
  4. everyone passes anyone at anytime, regardless of oncoming traffic;
  5. horns are used nearly constantly as a courtesy/heads-up: eg. “hey I’m going 100 km/hour and passing your flock of sheep on the right.”

Also note – the lower left of the windshield has a sticker with the number 60 on it, which reads: “60 km/hour is the electronically-controlled limit of this vehicle.” Ahahahahaha.

I’m incredibly grateful to the universe that I don’t suffer motion-sickness under such conditions as we traversed yesterday. Even more grateful that I’m able to read under such lurching conditions as the travel time allowed me to nearly finish one of the books I have on loan from the SVYM library. The book, “A Hundred Lamps,” is a collection of seven stories/excerpts “from the works of some of the best known authors of Hindi literature,” each story highlighting snapshots and facets from the lives of Indian physicians and medicine.

The stories touched on a number of topics and historical settings about which I’ve learned over the past week, including (most coincidentally to the fact that I only learned yesterday for the first time some history and background about India’s tribal peoples) a story about a small town/village called Dhingar Gaon which lay in proximity to a large tribal population. The story related the pending advent of a paper mill, slated to decimate the surrounding forests and displace the tribals, as had happened in other areas in the name of “progress.”

Each story varied in its time period and setting, allowing glimpses of India’s history, politics, culture and religion to be seen and understood in the context of characters and the narratives spun around them. While I’m a lover of non-fiction of all sorts too, this book captures why I love fiction – particularly historical and speculative fiction. It allows history, sociology, philosophy, and all manner of topics to be explored via narratives, making what can be otherwise dry topics more engaging and relate-able.

I set out to highlight some of my observations on our school and hospital visits yesterday, and look at the alley down which my reflecting has taken me. More on the visits themselves in another post!


1. Stefanie - January 13, 2014

Oh my, it’s like a video driving game or riding the Harry Potter Night Bus!

therealtinlizzy - February 11, 2014

Yes! Quite like the Night Bus – it was sheer madness, every day, whenever driving was involved. And it was awesome :).

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