Human Embryonic Stem Cell Therapy Restores Hope for Amanda

7.28.07 — Delhi Daily Life

Delhi Fruit Stand

On Tuesday I sat in dappled light on my balcony and caught a sunbeam while eating my lunch.
In the branches of the Neem tree I noticed a nest with baby chicks squawking for food from their
Mummy. I think they were crows. I discovered I had company and wasn‘t alone after all. The
Neem tree is well known for its medicinal qualities especially for treating diabetes and
apparently it makes your skin glow. With that knowledge, Mum ate five leaves immediately.
They taste very bitter. Upon finding out that they are also used as an anti-fertility herb, I stopped
taking the leaves in fear of jeopardizing Mr. Singhs‘ prediction of my giving birth to two baby
Gabrielle was a little panic stricken on the second day of her visit. Distraught and sweating she
tore through the door of Room 201. The hospital sits adjacent to a park and children‘s play area.
What we thought would be a great idea turned out to be disastrous. Bearing two small jars of
marbles, Gab entered the park. She eyed five or six kids and headed their way. With cupped
hands she displayed the marbles. Big mistake! In an instant as she began to hand marbles to the
bare-footed ragged little ones, she was literally mobbed by about thirty pulling at her arms, her
clothing, and her legs—all begging. The begging grew louder each moment: ―Laaaydy,
Laaaaaaaydy more, more…Lady…more!‖ Flustered she passed the entire second jar to what she
thought was the teacher who glared at her with a look to kill…you know—the type of evil eye
that speaks louder than words: ―Thanks but no thanks for creating a problem that I now have to
deal with‖. In a quick minute, the kids were snatching marbles, crying and Gab was in the midst
of a small riot. Upon her return we decided that we will either opt to keep the other toys in our room or beg Dale to bring an entire box of marbles for his visit in two weeks to appease every
kid on the block. How much is the baggage weight allowance per bag for international travel?
Yesterday‘s giving was a little more toned down—but shocking. We meandered out of the
confines of our apartment complex and around the corner.

School Children

When I thought I had seen the worst,
it got worse. I am not sure what is worse than worse…and how bad the standard of living can
actually get. Trash is strewn on the sides of the street where I‘ve also noticed children, dogs and
cows defecating and urinating. This is the same place that children, dogs and cows forage for
scraps to eat. Virtually on top of the piles of rubbish are blue-tarpaulin tent-like dwellings. The
day before Gabrielle‘s visit, I rolled down this street with Trevor, another Australian patient
receiving treatment from Dr. Shroff. A small infant who lay motionless on a piece of board was
covered in about two hundred flies.
I turned to Trevor: ―Do you think he‘s alright?‖
―I think he‘s dead!‖ he whispered. We rolled on, turned around at the end of the street and rolled
back. The child moved ever so slightly…and the next day he was gone from that spot.
I feel so fortunate. Gabrielle passed the marbles to a teacher who was giving alphabet lessons to
tiny little ones using square slates with chalk. They were all beautifully behaved and nodded
their heads with hands in the prayer position in unison, ―Namaste‖. They are happy. I ponder:
What is happiness and where does it stem from? They have nothing and yet they are happy.
As we return to the apartment, my lungs are filled with pollution from our venture outside. My
head hurts and I blow dirt from my nostrils. My separation from home has me longing for and
has given me a new appreciation for the beauty, the cleanliness, the crisp unpolluted air and clear
distant horizons. I miss everything so much. I miss the simple pleasures of cooking in my
kitchen and eating fresh fruit with the skin on; eating crunchy lettuce, mouth watering Swiss
chard or kale, and fresh pink wild salmon cooked medium rare. Ah, to drink water from the
tap… But mostly I miss my dog Tucker, Dale, and my dear friends. I miss snuggling, I miss
kissing, I miss being in love and feeling loved. I miss taking Tucker for his daily walk and
watching him play catch in the river. Oh, I miss the river…gazing at its constant rhythm in
motion—a metaphor for my life. Mum‘s departure was awful. She was haggled by a horrible man begging for rupees right through the departure gate. He had zero empathy and refused to budge, let go of her sleeve, and allow us the pleasure of a last private hug to share some quick loving moments together. For this reason alone I had an immediate love-hate relationship with India. I imagined Mum half giving the middle finger to Delhi as the plane‘s wheels left the ground, and half holding her hands in the prayer position bidding a Namaste of complete gratitude saying,
―Thank you India, thank you Dr. Shroff, thank you, thank you, thank you…Until I see you again.

P.S. Now Gabrielle has yellow curry on her green shirt. The curry continues to haunt…


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