Thursday morning I flew from Delhi to Bangalore. As I have mentioned before, at the airport every person gets individually wanded after walking through the metal detector. You do not have to remove your shoes or even your jacket to go through the initial metal detector but after going through that, I entered a draped off room where a security official used the wand and patted me down. The wand went off on my right leg. I was wearing spandex work out pants so there was no way I was concealing anything. The woman asked me if I had had an operation...OF COURSE! My titanium rod in my right leg from when I had my osteotomy in 2008 sets off the wand metal detector. I told her that yes, I had a metal rod in my leg due to an accident I had when I was 11. She let me through.
My flight was an hour delayed due to the fog in Delhi so I arrived in Bangalore around 1:30 in the afternoon and took a taxi to the Annexe III. Wizened by my weeks in the north, I knew about what I should be paying and when I couldn’t find the prepaid booth due to airport construction and poorly marked signage, I found a taxi company that would use the meter and paid 735 rupees for the 40km trip in. When I checked into the Annexe III, I was given a letter stating that accommodation would not be available for me from January 27 - February 10 because of “unforseen circumstances.” Well, unforseen they may be, but the medical college knew before I arrived that I would be kicked out in a week and didn’t bother to send an email to let me know. The alternate accommodation the medical college is offering is a sister hospital 20km away (which would take about an hour to drive in Bangalore traffic) and suggested taking a bus to and from there to St. John’s everyday. No way. I am really angry about this whole situation. Thankfully since I have arrived have found some new friends - a group of German medical students - who are trying to find something closer. At least I am not alone in my frustration.
The room is comfortable with working hot water, a desk, a dresser, and two twin beds that are reasonably comfortable. After unpacking my things, I headed across the street to the BDA complex to see about getting a USB internet stick. Due to “terrorism,” it has become really difficult for foreigners to get connected in this city. In order to get a SIM card which you need to have a working phone, you have to provide a passport photo, a copy of your passport and visa, as well as a proof of address. I am not even able to use the WiFi in the nearby coffee shop because to use the free WiFi login, I need a working verifiable phone number to receive a text verification code before I login to the WiFi. And to get all of this done takes time. Everything here moves at a snail’s pace and there are always more hoops to jump through (even more than in medical school in the US) and fees to pay. After my first day, I was completely frustrated and would have been happy to hop on a plane, fly home, and forget the whole thing in India.
There are some really good things about India mixed in with the frustrations, but it is getting harder to separate the two. For example, while I was at the BDA complex trying to figure out who to ask to get an internet stick, a very nice gentleman offered to help me out. He had gone to college in California and lived in the US for 20 years before returning to his home in India. He was the one who helped me figure out all the things I needed to get in order to get a phone and internet. He then bought me a coffee at Cafe Coffee Day and gave me his email and phone number in case I needed any help. He knows what it’s like to be a foreigner in a new place and how nice it is to have people to help you figure things out. Unfortunately in India nothing gets figured out very quickly so my list of things that I was hoping to accomplish on my first afternoon in India was left without hardly anything checked off. I did manage to make it to the shopping mall (a really nice, quite large shopping mall that could fit in at any major city in the US) and buy some necessary items like shampoo and conditioner. I have little hope that I will accomplish more tomorrow. Namaste.