Work all day and all night

Excuse me for the absence from the blogging realm. Surrounded by a team of expert social workers I have accomplished the nearly impossible: placed and re-obtained 20 monitors in a diverse batch of restaurants in Mumbai. After a slow start, I worried that my project would not get underway soon enough for me to complete it prior to my scheduled departure. However, everything came through in the nick of time. Incredulously, my team at the Preventive Oncology Department at Tata maintained their cool, proclaiming a confidence that everything would sort itself out in the allotted time. I must admit, that I was quite nervous as the days ticked by, that I would fail to complete my studies in the time that remained.

Immediately after obtaining the ethics approval, that same afternoon, copies were made of all of the consent forms and surveys. With the papers hot off the press, I sat with a department investigator and properly trained the non-English speaking social workers how to ask the owners the questions presented in the survey and the accurate background to provide them regarding the study. After a few hours of practicing and correcting, we were ready for our first stop. We entered the location and slowly but surely went through the protocol. First, we approached the owner and asked if he could sit with us for a few minutes. The project was explained, the consent read and finally signed. Then the interview was conducted followed by placement of the monitor and recording of restaurant characteristics. When all i’s were dotted and t’s crossed we departed. We had completed location #1 with only 19 left to go.

The next day was Saturday and the team of three commuted through the horrific Mumbai traffic to meet promptly at 9:30 am. We continued on all morning and afternoon despite the sweltering heat and at the end of the day we had secured five restaurants. During the coming week we worked from the early morning to the late evening walking throughout Mumbai in order to fulfill our need of 20 restaurants. As a team of three women, two Indian and one American, we encountered adversity including being shunned from some places and being forced out of others. Nevertheless we diligently persisted until we had achieved the goal of placing 20 monitors.

The logistics of placing the monitors might seem simple, but when faced with the heavy monsoons which threatened to destroy the monitors and prevent travel, the horrific traffic which forced us into a standstill, and the difficulty in traveling past certain hours to our distant homes- suddenly the project became much more difficult. Therefore, when finally securing the 20th restaurant, we all shared a sense of congratulations and accomplishment.

The experience of placing the monitors was much more exhausting and time consuming than I had anticipated, particularly when faced with such a tight time allotment. However, the feeling of completing the placement was one that could not be replicated!