Friday, November 28, 2008

A Turkey of a Day w/o the Poultry

It was a weird Thanksgiving. As it was our first Thanksgiving in India I was prepared for something different, but nothing like what the day became.

First, the weather has been cold. Truly actually cold. Sweater weather. Wool sock weather. Thank goodness I have some of those. There was a cyclone that came ashore the southwest coast of India and we have been getting the fringes of it here. Nothing too extreme, but definitely cold and damp. First time I have worn a sweater, socks and shoes here in India.

Secondly, I woke up yesterday to a phone call from home with a family member making sure that we were all okay given the situation of the last few hours. Situation? I hadn't even had my coffee yet. I had no clue what was going on, but I turned on the TV as I continued the conversation and was soon caught up with the events in Mumbai. This event, even though it is further away than the bombings that struck Bangalore in July, feels as if it has hit closer to home. Why?
  • Westerners Targeted
  • High Profile Sites
  • Oberoi, Taj
  • Hostage Situation
These phrases and words were scrolling all over and on everyone's lips. As a Westerner who often visits High Profile Sites, including the Oberoi and many Taj hotels here in Bangalore and elsewhere, I felt a bit vulnerable or perhaps... well actually I can't think of an adequate word to describe my feelings. I don't feel unsafe necessarily, but wary? Yes.

Then third. As I was sitting on our second floor, reading news from the computer, I heard a loud sound and then screaming from the construction site next door. I went down the stairs and outside, mentioning to my neighbor who was looking over his front gate that someone had gotten hurt. We walked over to the site and up to the floor where the accident had taken place. There was a boy, probably about 14-15 years old as well as a man about 25-30 who had been hurt by a wall that had collapsed on them. These walls are made out of concrete cinder blocks and somehow it came down. No speculation on their construction skills, it just happened. The boy had hurt his leg as well as gotten a bit of a bump on his head. The older man had obviously gotten a good solid concussion out of the deal. Having suffered a good concussion myself and seeing how spacey he looked, I was quite concerned about him. Apparently in situations like this the construction workers are to call the contractor and owners who are supposed to take care of them and make sure they get medical treatment, etc... Well, they called them but they did not arrive until this afternoon. Helpful. I made sure that they went to see a doctor and gave the boy some pain medication for his leg. I also went over with our housekeeper Lalita
(since she speaks Kannada and I don't) this morning, to see how they were doing. The man looked a bit out of it; tired, but otherwise much more responsive and okay. I told them that he will probably be okay but he needs to rest and take it easy for a few days. The boy was complaining of a headache and was a bit feverish. His foot had been cut on the edge of one of the bricks (they work barefoot or with "slippers"), and when I looked closely I saw that it was a bit red and very sensitive. I was concerned about infection so I told them to soak his foot in some warm salt water and then to keep it wrapped and clean. We gave them some blankets, I tore up some cheap cotton pillowcases to make bandages and told them to let me know if anyone gets worse. As all of this was happening Ari's physiotherapist (yes, he makes house-calls) was arriving and he said that it was so good that I was doing "social work". I tried to tell him that this is just what we do where I am from. If someone needs help, you help them. To me it's called being a good neighbor. I guess that is what I am thankful for.

So, that was our first Thanksgiving in India. Luckily Maya made an apple pie and with the Domino's Pizza that we ordered we felt like we had had a bit of a celebration, but still. Like I said, weird.


Abigail said...

What a difficult Thanksgiving. I'm glad you were there to help those men too.

I look forward to seeing you next month, Cindy!

Lynne S of Oz said...

Goodness what a day you and those poor chaps had!
It's a bit late but happy Thanksgiving to you!

Rima said...

I know. Just a terrible situation. Glad to know that everyone you know are well.

Angeluna said...

So glad you posted, Cindy. You have been on my mind since first hearing about the sad and disgusting events in Mumbai. For all the concern about Westerners, it was Indians who paid by far the highest price.

Bless you for caring for those poor blokes next door. And glad to hear you managed pizza for Thanksgiving. A little touch of home.

Bogie said...

A stressful day indeed. Thanks for sending a message the day of the attacks, I immediately thought of you when I heard the news and wondered if you and your family were okay. Take care and stay safe.