Market in New Delhi
Jet lag is a funny thing. Your body thinks it wants to eat, sleep, or walk–or all three at once. I tried to write on the flight coming out as I have done historically in the past for years, but I couldn’t string a single sentence together. It’s 11:00 pm in New Delhi now, and after having slept for two hours, I can’t resume my sleep: The joys of traveling half- way around the world! So I drag out my laptop and proceed to pull together a much-needed update on the blog.
Every trip to India has been different and this one is certainly no exception. Perhaps by far, this is the most difficult one and will be critical in setting the stage for the HAP projects to come. There are so many unknown factors, and in the months prior to this trip, even though I had planned and written out in detail the beginnings of this HAP project, it became quite clear that we were running on assumptions. We still didn’t know if the community at large would welcome an acupuncture clinic. Where would we set up? And who would be interested in taking on this large commitment to learn a whole new life-skill and healing art? All these things need to be explored and discussed with the locals before commencing to build any solid base for development plans.
Some of you have asked me how I came to decide on Sikkim, and I can simply say it was at the request of a HAP board member, Ming Liu. Over a year ago, John Kokko, another HAP board member, introduced me to Ming on Facebook and suggested that we communicate since we seemed to have the same goals regarding enabling and training local people to do acupuncture in destitute areas. While I was still very much involved with the Barefoot Acupuncturists in Mumbai, I was intrigued by Ming’s request to go to Bhutan. I followed up with a visit to California and it was there that Ming and I solidified our decision to work together to produce his dream. We labored for months and planned trips that kept getting pushed back. Finally, we were realizing that it would be difficult to proceed in Bhutan without some solid connections with the Bhutanese government and their Ministry of Health. So, Ming said to me one day, what would you think of going to Sikkim? And I said, yes. Hence my trip to Sikkim.
I write with a heavy heart that Ming passed away last May. We were supposed to do this trip together, and I would like to think that he is with me in spirit. It is certainly in his honor and memory that we are proceeding with our plans as he wouldn’t want it any other way. I am deeply grateful to Ming for having entrusted me with his visions and for giving me the inspiration to take HAP in this new direction.
Those of you who have been following my blog for the past years will remember that my previous trips have been with Barefoot Acupuncturists in Mumbai. I am indebted to Walter Fischer and the Barefoot family for giving me the whole-hearted conviction that this work can be done. I have seen it in action with the Barefoot team, and their love and generosity towards me has given me the foundation that I will always carry with me with every step I take. This new direction could not have been taken without them. My only regret is that I won’t see them as frequently as I did in the past.
This trip was the first time that I flew straight from Chicago to New Delhi. Fifteen hours. I have two things to say about that: It’s a long damn flight and why the hell don’t they make seats with low back support? Other than that, I liked not having to go through Customs twice in Amsterdam at what seems like the middle of the night.
I ended up getting a hotel room in New Delhi since my flight to Sikkim doesn’t leave until tomorrow. A word of advice if you are going to be needing a hotel for a layover: Do your homework beforehand. Know what hotel to ask for and what the going rate is. I paid the equivalent of $65 for a taxi to and from the hotel, and at night. While at the time I thought that was reasonable, the trip to the hotel that the driver took me to was advertised online for $20 per night. So, they obviously made $30 to $40 off of me since taxi fare is dirt-cheap here. In the end, it doesn’t matter. I’ve wasted that money on worse things. In the future though, I’m going to stake out the hotels ahead of time.
Now it’s midnight. I should’ve brought the melatonin. More tomorrow. Good night. Or good day. Sigh.
Anne Biris, RAc, MSOM