Today we were treated to a picnic with the staff, students and guest of the Mungeli Christian Hospital. During the warm and cool months, Dr. Henry takes his staff and their families to a nearby reservoir for a day of swimming, boating, relaxing and eating.
Not only does the getaway serve as a chance to recharge batteries away from the hectic pace of the hospital, but Dr. Henry likes that it helps people interact on a social level – something that might not happen outside the established roles in the hospital. Everyone is invited – mechanics, cooks, nurses doctors, etc.
The reservoir is a 1.5 hour bus ride from the hospital. Standing room only on the bus for some of us as people packed on for some time away.
We were told there were crocodiles in the reservoir, but none were spotted today. I swam a little with Dr. Henry and a few others who wanted to venture out further into the reservoir. The water was cold and refreshing in comparison to the heat of the day.
Very few of the staff have learned to swim, so it was fun teaching some of them to at least float in the water wearing life jackets. More staff members ventured into the boat for trips around the rock outcroppings near the hillside picnic area.
Though we didn’t see any crocodiles, a large group of monkeys inhabited the trees on a small hill that was a short hike away from the picnic area. I tried to get close to them, but whenever a rock slipped or leaf crunched they would jump out of the trees directly overhead and hop towards the rocks. They were curious about me, but didn’t really come too much closer after I stood still a while.
The meal was curried lamb, cooked tomato chutney, vegetables and rice. We gathered on a large blanket, sitting in a circle around the perimeter, and served one another in shifts. Anil called me to the first service and my job was to haul a large bowl of rice around to everyone as another person scooped it onto people’s plates. It was really a tangible example of “serve one another” – no matter your position at the hospital, whether visitor – Indian, American or Dane, doctor, dentist, cook or cleaner, all were at some point put into service of the other.
On the water, local fishermen were driving fish into nets in the ancient way of net fishing. They would set up a barrier net in a “U” in the lake and then paddle their four boats about 100 yards away from the open end. Then slowly, the boats would come back to the net with one of the standing fishermen pounding the water with a long bamboo pole. When they reached the net, the four boats would converge and the fishermen hauled the nets in between the boats. We saw this cycle happen three times and it was really an amazing sight.
Tired, sunned and fed, we hiked back to the bus for the ride back to Mungeli Christian Hospital. With Dr. Anil Henry at the wheel, we made good time…
A shower and a nap and I’m ready for bed again! Work around the hospital tomorrow for me, documenting the clinical practice areas and general operations. The afternoon will hold a program at the Rambo English School, just a short walk from the hospital. I’m looking forward to seeing the students dances and performances.
More photos will be posted to Flickr soon. I’ll post a link when they are ready.