As I sit down and try to myself comfortable for the upcoming 10 hour flight I notice a small cockroach traveling on the window adjacent to where I am about to place my head. I hesitate and debate if I should pretend I didn’t see the creature or find a way to minimize his presence, but my thoughts are interrupted by my neighbor’s remark “if he bothers you, you have no idea what is waiting for you in India.” I sigh and smile acknowledging the truth of the statement. I have heard a melange of advice concerning India- some positive, some negative, some bitter, some sweet. Nevertheless, the only unifying factor was that it will not disappoint- I have been guarenteed by several people to be blown away by India and certainly not bored. I am excited to relish the experience.
It is presently, just after 4am in Mumbai, and I have finally arrived after over 24 hours of traveling. The sweltering heat of the city met me like a cement wall upon my exit from the International Airport. While I have had little contact upon my arrival, I have been pleasantly surprised by the kindness and politeness that I have been shown by the few Mumbaikers I have encountered.
Later this morning I will meet Dr. Surendra Shastri, the physician with whom I will be working during my stay in Mumbai. Dr. Shastri is the Chief of the Department of Preventive Oncology at Tata Memorial Hospital- a WHO Cancer Center. I am honored to have the opportunity to work with him and his collaborators carry out a project for the SmokeFree Mumbai Campaign.
In the next few hours I will become acquainted with is team and I will begin to organize myself for the impending project. Until then I will try and rest, despite my excitement for what the day holds.