Despite one of us becoming a bit sick and the occurrence of a small earthquake, everything is still going very well in India! At around midnight last night, Ben spiked a fever along with other symptoms and was taken to the hospital accompanied by Ellen and a very helpful friend of ours from Holy Cross, Biju. Aja and I stayed behind because four Americans tagging along in a hospital late at night would have been a little overwhelming for everyone involved. However, after receiving an IV and rehydrating, Ben is recovering and well taken care of. From what both of them reported back to us, health care is on a completely different page here in India than in America. Upon arriving at the hospital, it was very common to find homeless individuals and even dogs sleeping on the floors of the late night care unit. There were IV lines, dirty clothes, and trash on the ground of the hospital, displaying the lack of concern for sanitation. What surprised me most (being a health care nerd) was the fact that health insurance is generally not spoken about at all. When a patient enters, they are seen by a doctor/nurse and that medical professional gives the patient a list of needed supplies and medication depending on the diagnosis (ie: needles, syringes, antibiotics, IV lines, etc.). That list is to be taken to a nearby pharmacy and, as the patient, you, or a friend or family member, is responsible for paying for each item in order to take back to the doctor/nurse. Once everything is purchased, the treatment may proceed. This approach definitely ensures that health care is being paid for by the individual, but it lacks efficiency. The process is much slower than the operations of an emergency room in America because the needed supplies and medications are not readily available to the doctors and nurses. Another huge downfall to this approach is that those individuals who cannot afford to buy supplies and medications at the pharmacy will not receive care. Hopefully none of us will have to return to the hospital in Agartala; although, it would be extremely interesting to experience this atmosphere in person.
As for the earthquake, it occurred at the same time that Ben was very sick which made last night pretty eventful. The earthquake was very small and there were no reported damages or injuries. It was the first time that I had ever felt an earthquake which initially made it a bit scary, but also really exciting. Northeast India is situated on a fault line which makes the area prone to such events. It only lasted about ten seconds or so and it was a 4.8 on the Richter Scale, situated over Bangladesh. The good news is that it was nothing major and we are all perfectly fine!
On a lighter note, the pictures that I have attached to this post (and one on the previous post) are of a recent journey in Tripura to one of the holiest Hindu temples in this part of the country, Sundari Temple, and also to Neermahal Palace, a unique piece of architecture built in the middle of a lake and only accessible by boat. I also tossed a picture in this post of myself with some of the adorable nursery school students. Enjoy!