The chronicle of a lonely do-gooder family doctor who survived.

Friday, January 18, 2008


Just a quick stop in Chennai, India's fourth largest city (aka Madras). I was prepared for the worst, but actually with Sankaranthi going on all week here in Tamil Nadu the city was relatively empty. Shireesha's giving a talk here at a hospital that has an affiliation with the University of Washington. We got a tour of the hospital but alas I was not able (or comfortable) to take pictures. The government hospital that takes care of much of the HIV in the state is a 100 year old facility that once functioned as a tuberculosis sanatorium. It was just about as uplifting a place as it sounds. I am constantly amazed at how much smarter the doctors in India are, they don't have CT scanners, they can't get labs drawn every day, and each fellow carries about 50 inpatients on their service, relying almost entirely on their physical diagnosis skills and their brains.

Although I did get out to the hospital and to Marina Beach, I spent most of the day in bed with chills and stomach cramps. It had to have been something I had at the four star hotel in Hyderabad which is ironic I guess. The only other times I've been sick here were at Domino's pizza in Bangalore, and following an all night whisky drinking binge where we ate lamb that was barbequed on the street (I deserved that one).

Here's Shireesha and our driver Madu at Marina Beach which is this enormous public beach in Chennai, about 1/2 a km wide and 10 km long. This beach took the full brunt of the tsunami but fortunately there weren't many people out when it hit, so the fatalites were in the dozens here instead of thousands as it was elsewhere in Tamil Nadu.

More at Marina Beach

We're headed to the hill station of Kodaikanal after this.

PS. The thing I miss most about home is the internet. For a country that touts its high tech infrastructure, internet access here remains hard to find, slow, and relatively expensive. I may decide to finish blogging this trip from home.

1 comment:

Hadji said...

Hey John! Glad to see you made it to Chennai okay. I just showed Shireesha's picture to my mom, and the first question she asked me was--can't you remove the blanket a little bit with your computer so that I can have a better look at her face (hahaha!). Mothers. Now we've gotten into a debate if that's actually possible--she's sighting all those movies and serials she's seen where detectives and CIA spooks have been able to reveal the identity of potential suspects.
Anyway, she thinks Shireesha looks beautiful and was very happy to finally get a glimpse of her. Sorry to hear about your stomach cramps; one would've hoped the food at the Taj Deccan would've been better than that.