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India 2018 – We’re Heading Home (Not)

After the windstorm, which blanketed green wheat fields with a dusty, gritty fog, and after the rainstorm that pounded our bus—the flimsy wipers were no match for the windshield waterfall obscuring our driver’s view—Brandon Pommeroy, MD, received a somewhat stormy text (at least to us).


“Our flight has been canceled,” he said.


In a crowded city, this Hindu temple was pleasantly peaceful.

We were supposed to fly home that night, and we were halfway through a bumpy four-hour ride to our hotel after a hurried visit to the Taj Mahal. The collective reaction in the bus seemed to be… Damn. Everyone pondered messed-up schedules and missed meetings and waiting family. But almost instantly that morphed into, OK—this is the situation, what can we do? How can we take advantage of this opportunity? It provided an insight into how Medical Missions Foundation volunteers roll. When life—and the airlines—gives you lemons, you make Indian lemonade, and you dive even deeper into your locale.


And so we journeyed through Delhi on Monday, wandering through a Sikh temple (Gurudwara Bangla Sahib) and a Hindu temple (Purana Kila), and enjoying interactions with locals. At the Sikh temple, we watched the faithful prepare meals in massive pots to feed 50,000 people a day, 90,000 a day on weekends. Later, at Bukara, a local restaurant, we devoured some of the country’s best Indian food (I’ve considered seeking asylum at Bukara so I can keep eating the chicken murgh malai kabab). The attitudes on display yesterday and today by volunteers—calmness, open-mindedness, adaptability—are the same attributes that served them so successfully in the operating room and the PACU in Bhopal. Here are some images from an unexpected day in Delhi (and we’ll be here tomorrow, too):

Aria Witherell and Chantal Sperry made new friends at the Sikh temple.

Temple volunteers prepare an astounding 50,000 meals a day.

These women were interested in Rebecca Ettien’s black hair.

Wei Phin Tan (left): Surgeon turned baker.

You’re required to cover your hair to enter the temple (which is why I look like Steve Van Zandt).

Everything seems to have bright colors here in India.

The outside of the Hindu temple.

The India gate, which faces the presidential palace.