Any painkiller has side effects. Use with cautions.
Hi everyone, it’s me again! It has been ages since my last posting here. Since 2015, I have been rolled into ophthalmology residency program in my hometown, Bandung. At first, I thought I would keep writing – since I still needed to pay the bills – but yeah, medicine life is that hard. I happened to take a break in writing early in my residency. That was when a magazine called me asking about my deadline that day, which I completely forgot due to an unexpected paper presentation I had to do at the hospital. I even quit dancing, pretty sad but that was a decision I had to take.
Nevertheless, I can not be more grateful that ophthalmology – surprisingly – had brought me far in life more than I thought. I had my first international e-poster presentation in Barcelona in my first semester. Although of course I did not have the time to write about the trip, since I got drowned into work right away after spending a week there. Now in my second year, I got this exceptional opportunity to get posted in an observership program for six weeks in Hyderabad, India.
India is like the Olympus of ophthalmology. It is a great step for my study. But yes, I have to admit, it was at first terrifying for me – knowing that I would be away from my country alone for that long, for the first time, not for a vacation. I have always wanted to study abroad but I never thought that it would be in India. With all those creepy stories circulating, I could not help getting nervous prior to my departure.
I arrived in Hyderabad on November 4 late after midnight and the huge airport was still quite busy. After being in the line for half an hour, I got my prepaid cab – auto, Indians say – to the hospital. And so my adventure in India began. At 2 AM, my cab driver was speeding fast on the deserted road, didn’t stop honking, chewing pans, even opened his door to spit while the car was running! I could not help laughing – and praying – silently in the back seat.
On my first working day that Saturday, I met Ankit, an ophthalmology fellow from Delhi who was having the same posting as mine. Ankit took me out for dinner with the other international fellows. One of my wish lists in India was fulfilled straightaway, having the famous, glorious Hyderabadi dum biryani! It was that good, though we had it at a dodgy place across the hospital that I didn’t think we would be coming back to. Some said, all biryanis in Hyderabad just have to be good, since it is the paradise of biryanis.
The day after, John and Mansour – the other international fellows from UK and Nigeria – were going with me for a walking tour. I had booked Charminar Precinct Walk tour earlier and asked my new friends if they wanted to go with me so the cost could be cheaper. It was the first time in India for most of us, and getting around is always exciting. Raize, our lovely guide, took us strolling around the heart of Hyderabad: the 400 year-old Charminar Palace and its mesmerizing history and architecture, Nizamia General Ayurvedic Hospital which got us medical doctors gawking, the crowded bazaars and markets around it. We saw people making traditional naan on a stone stove and pounding edible silver for hours. We had our first Hyderabad’s famous Iranian chai tea and biscuits at one of the bakeries. Mansour and I went into Mecca Mosque but John had to wait outside with Raize since he wore a shorts. An old man took us around without us asking for. Being an Indonesian, I knew he would ask for some tips and he did – which was totally fine for us – but Raize was a little upset about it because it would had been her job. If you are going here, make sure to wear a long trouser and some scarf for females. They put one on me for free, but it is always better to wear your own. One cute thing was that there were some local visitors who asked to take some pictures with me and John. We did, and it was fun.
But my credit that day went to Chowmahalla Palace. Once the witness of the great Nizam Dynasty, the place was such a peaceful beauty within the busy heart of Hyderabad. The wealthy descendants of the Turks had the buildings full of admirable details and treasures. No doubt, India is indeed rich in romantic cultures and histories. As the sun crawling down behind the dainty garden where the million-dollars Rolls Royce sat, I spelled quietly.
Namaste, hello, India.
For more photos, visit my Instagram