This series of blogs will come from a work trip to India. I have a busy programme with a visit to Sandra Albert, DrPH student in Shillong, NE India, Then a meeting Kolkata to review the results of a trial that we have done trying to improve the treatment of leprosy reactions. Then i have four days in Mumbai reviewing the work of Omer, a Sudanese PhD student who is working on neuropathic pain. Ideally i would have visited these sites in reverse order because the visit to NE India is the lightest of the trips and is shall be having a weekend in a nature reserve at the wettest place on earth. But holidays and other peoples availability meant that I shall start in North East India. This is a huge area which borders Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet and Myanmar. It is very wet because it has a heavy monsoon which is dropped on the land when the clods meet the mountains there. It is also distinctive in not having the caste system, instead people belong to tribes. They are also mainly Chrisitian and they feel a long way from Delhi.
Wed Oct 17th
On my flight from London i sat next to a young Indian woman who had her pilots licence and had lived in Shillong for a year and was v enthusiastic about it especially the shopping. I then had a fabulous flight from Delhi to Gauwahati in Assam. First we flew over the flat plains of N india , then over the Ganges which had loops of river. There were forests on the hillsides, these then became small clumps around farmhouses and the area flattened out into a huge rice paddy. My Sudanese student Omer met me at the airport and we then had a 4 hour taxi ride to Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya. Gauwahati was flat but we soon ascended into the hill road. It was a long journey shared with countless Indian lorries with their bight logos of animals and goddesses on the lorry sides. In Shillong we stayed in a newly opened B+B. It is cold up here, ones needs jackets. The book at the B+B had a good description of Shillong architecture which seems to be a cross of India and Home counties in the capital. The houses have verandahs and peaked corrugated iron roofs.