India – a place that so far seems totally manic. In the two weeks leading up to our placement a few of us were lucky enough to explore the northern half of the country. A week into the trip we all had mixed feelings, one of a vibrant and bustling culture and the other of a chaos but colour. The physical experience was taxing, personified by the omnipresent sweaty stench of faeces as dogs, cows, goats and people urinate and defecate in public space (reconsider?). After a long week of scorching heat, constant symphony of traffic horns and being stared at, it was time to escape the hustle of the city.
Manali became our home for the second week, a backpackers paradise with an abundance of adventure activities, cheap restaurants and bars, friendly locals going about their daily business all nestled on a tiny road engulfed by majestic mountains. It was a treat to sit at a street side café drinking chai tea as the local Nepalese women carried hay baskets up hill for their cattle, and the men herding Yaks back down towards the aqua stream below. After the two roller coaster weeks we were Palampur bound!
We arrived late afternoon after a scenic drive through the North Indian mountains, a scene like out of Jurassic park as gigantic mountains towered either side, waterfalls speckled throughout. The drive lived up to the world famous hype, it was nothing short of spectacular. Having nestled into our accommodation and meeting our in country partners and the other students we were feeling reassured and excited to begin the first day of the next 4 weeks.
At first, it was a bit daunting to discover that each and every meal at the house would be Indian vegetarian. But we soon found out, every meal was made fresh, full of flavour and accompanied by home grown organic vegetables. Almost one week in and each meal continues to satisfy both the stomach and the soul. We are completely hooked on foods like dahl, chapati and paneer (look it up). We are embarrassed that we once enjoyed a sausage roll or meat pie from the servo.
Making our way to placement each day is an adventure. We catch the local bus and get off at the local market which is just beginning to show signs of the hustle and bustle that will inevitably characterise the streets during the day. Catching a second bus, we wind our way towards placement. The manic driver takes violent turns at lightning pace, it's important to hold on tight!
The placement so far has been an eye opener, there are so many differences in physiotherapy between Australia and India it's overwhelming. At this stage we are just observing and although we see things that we consider to be different, we are learning the role of cultural and social influence on treatment in order to achieve greater patient outcomes.
The stroll back through the market at the end of the day is highly anticipated. A plethora of amazing fresh sweet and savoury delights, hot steamed momo’s, cool butterscotch ice cream and a big grocery bag full of afternoon snacks for a mere $2AUD. We are currently planning our weekend which will consist of exploring Dharamsala and McLeod Ganj, with hiking and culinary experiences high on the to do list.