This is 19 year old Jon checking in. Today was my birthday, and what a way to spend it here in India! But we’ll get to that a little later.
Today started bright and early for myself, Mitchell, Erica, and Mike, as we woke up to do our core workout at around 6:45. Zoha also claimed she would wake up at 6:30 to do some yoga with me and Mitchell, but could still be found sleeping comfortably in her bed when 7:15 rolled around. Our morning at the house culminated in a pushup contest between Mitchell and Ramesh, the winner of which remains a matter of heated dispute.
After some intense water mapping at Setco, the team went to the Kalol health center to meet with Deepika, an ayurvedic physician. Deepika shared a lot of incredibly valuable information with us about the area’s health conditions and the occurrence of disease. The most common problem is malaria, with 8-10 people coming to the clinic every day claiming to have it, and 20-40% of these cases testing positive. Also, 5-6 people come every day with diarrhea serious enough to report. Deepika’s services are provided by the government, and she serves a populace of 32,000 at no personal expense. However, she reports, those wealthy enough to afford private care do so rather than coming to her. Our talk with Deepika presents both our first formal interview and the establishment of our first professional contact in Kalol, and we are very excited!
In the afternoon Mike, Brianna, and I went to Kashimabad, a smaller village in greater Kalol, where we talked to more locals and gathered another water sample from the tap. We are eager to see the results of these tests.
Our departure from Setco marked the start of my birthday celebration, for which our hosts once again demonstrated their astonishing hospitality. When we arrived back at the guest house we saw that Ramesh had decorated the wall with some adorable birthday decorations. At 8:30, Selma and Gayatri arrived bearing dinner and gifts for the entire team. After everyone took part in the delightful Indian custom of feeding the birthday boy cake (Zoha smeared it all over my face), we feasted on delicious chicken tandoor and biryani. Soon after, Viral and Priyank arrived, also bearing a gift and a card. I’ve noticed that here, instead of “happy birthday”, they say “may you have many returns of this day”. We soon broke out in an intense game of spoons (that’s a card game, believe it or not) that was a ton of fun, even though Erica definitely lost. We concluded the night with a Rickshaw trip to get snowcone-esque desserts with a very unique flavor. As a group (and especially me tonight), we could not be more grateful for the gracious hospitality that has been shown to us thus far by Selma, Viral, Priyank, and the rest of Setco.
Tomorrow, we take a break from our project and head to Ahmnebad for some sightseeing! Avjo!