…and we’re back in the States

I have been back just a little over a week now from India. Daily life has changed so much! The yodels of vegetable vendors no longer marks the beginning of my day and the howling of stray dogs no longer marks it’s end. I’ve gone from taking rickshaws into unfamiliar terrains back to walking familiar streets. Reflecting back on those days already feels so faraway as the hustle and bustle of classes begins to dominate my thoughts, but little things continue to remind me of my longing from no longer including bottled water in my teeth brushing routine to comparing the Septa experience to the Delhi metro. It was truly an enriching time.

Some cool realizations I’ve had:

⁃ When I first got to India and used some Hindi, I was asked, “Are you from the U.S. or Canada?” Near the end, an Uber driver asked if I was from Maharashtra 🙂

⁃ I learned so many Hindi health-related words like nutrition (poshan/पोषण), menstrual cycle (maasik dharm/मासिक धर्म), gender based violence (ling aadharit hinsa/लिंग आधारित हिंसा), and non-communicable diseases (gair sanchari rogon/ गैर – संचारी रोगों).

⁃ I’ve developed a greater understanding of public health intervention implementation by witnessing how important things like tailoring interventions to demographic, geographic, and political contexts and the empowerment of locals with adequate compensation are in creating sustainable change as well as a the fact that these adaptations simultaneously make evaluation of the implementation a bit more challenging.

⁃ With a more developed sense of caution has come a coupled confidence in traveling. Growing up in the suburbs, traveling by car was the usually the best/only frequent mean of transport and I’m very happy to have built confidence in using other modes.

– It only seems fair that I end this list with reminiscing about the amazing food I had this summer. So here’s some thoughts on my 3 favorite foods in India: dabeli, pani puri, & kachoris. I’ve learned that Gujarati dabeli and Mahrastrian dabeli are quite different from each other in flavor profile. Pani puri/puchkaar/pakori/gol gappas have SO many varieties; outside of the traditional coriander and mint water, pomegranate water is promising contender for 2nd for those who like some sweetness to their puris. Lastly, everyone talks about the dal batti in Jaipur, Rajasthan, but people do not give enough credit to their kachoris!! In our short trip to Jaipur, we had kachori from about 2 or 3 different places and each one was mouth watering.

Last picture with some family I was so happy to meet for the first time and will dearly miss!

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About Npatel

My Name is Nikita Patel and I am studying Nursing and minoring in Global Health in Penn’s class of 2024.  This summer, I will be interning with the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) in Gurgaon, Haryana this summer! I am studying Nursing and minoring in Global Health in Penn’s class of 2024. My co-intern and I will assist PHFI in “evaluating the implementation of the Peer Educator Intervention for improving adolescent health in India’s National Adolescent Health Programme (i-Saathiya)”!