Thanksgiving in India!

Hello world! It has been a whirlwind 10 days for me…the week before Thanksgiving was spent finishing homework assignments for Biostats and Infectious Disease (sidenote – Epid 605 (Infectious Disease) is a class totally worth your time!), finishing projects and papers early, and otherwise gearing up for my week-long trip to India to celebrate my cousin’s wedding!

It was an insane week, and throughout it all, I couldn’t help but notice my public health education creeping up around me. The journey started where all air journeys do – the airport. Here, there was the usual NO SMOKING signs, which people blatantly ignored. My brother and I coughed passive aggressively because it was 4am and because it says NO SMOKING. Then we boarded our flight, which first stopped in Boston, and then went on the 13 hour journey to Dubai. The Dubai airport was very interesting. I noticed multiple smoking lounges where people literally just went in to smoke and then came out. I wish I’d taken a picture of it, but a sign on the door said WELCOME! SMOKING KILLS. My brother and I laughed. From Dubai, we finally made it all the way over to Kolkata, India! We arrived early evening and hung out with my cousins at one of the fancy malls in the area. Continuing the smoking theme – there were LOTS more smokers here than in any place we’d seen so far…and much less adverse effect notices.

As we settled into the wedding venue “resort,” I thought about malaria carrying mosquitoes and remembered that I had forgotten to pack the mosquito repellant. Whoops.

When we woke up the next day, the wedding festivities began! It was a chance to meet many of my relatives whom I only knew through Facebook and/or WhatsApp at that point. The best part was when everyone asked what I was studying…and then I had to explain this degree to them. Eventually I landed on this definition: It’s like medicine, but at the population level. Also, we tell people not to smoke. Here are a few pictures from the festivities!

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Pictures from the whole weeks’ events…first time in decades that our whole family has been together!

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Groom (my cousin) coming to receive his bride

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Bride and groom taking a selfie at the altar…they’re married!

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Sister (me!) and my sister-in-laws…welcoming the bride into our family!

In the night, I noticed all my cousins smoking outside…and when I told them to stop smoking because it’s bad for your health, a few of them were genuinely surprised by all the facts that I was spouting. I was shocked that they hadn’t heard of the detriments (lung cancer, heart disease, etc)…hopefully it makes a difference and they’ll stop smoking and chewing tobacco. I was explaining to my 16-year old brother how the lifestyle is different and they just don’t get the kind of messaging that we do in the States.

We celebrated Thanksgiving in India this year for the first time. It was fun sharing what it’s all about with our India family, though it felt weird not running the whole gamut at home! Public health point: Every time we ate fatty/unhealthy foods, someone commented on its lack of health value! My preaching became catchy, I guess.

Finally, the trip came to an end….and with it came crashing back the reality of the fact that there’s only 15 days left till the end of the semester! We flew through Qatar this time and the airport’s duty-free cigarette section was hilarious. This time I got a pic:

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Apparently, smoking is bad. Who knew?!

While I went for a wedding to India, it was fun to note all the different public health initiatives in various stages around the world. It made me really thankful, yet again, to be living in America where so much of my health is easy to take for granted.

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