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MIT student blogger Hamsika C. '13

A New Time, A New Place by Hamsika C. '13

2011 smile and India!

Happy New Year to all of you! I spent a good 30 minutes this morning hogging wifi and using the textplus app on my iTouch to wish my friends back home a happy 2011; I would’ve wished them in person – except I’m in India ☺ And that happens to be just a little too far away, haha.

Following two flight cancellations, some in-flight meal confusion, a missed train, a last-minute bus ticket purchase, and some serious luggage-lifting, I made my way last week to a small rural area of India called Anaikatti. Since then, I’ve been here with my mom and grandma; it’s absolutely gorgeous:





The beauty of this place is reason enough to be here – but the actual purpose of my visit to Anaikatti is to work at one of the tribal hospitals in this region, assessing its needs and trying to figure out a way I can help.

It’s been an amazing experience so far. The doctors at the hospital are incredibly nice to me and patiently explain everything, regardless of how many questions I ask. Yesterday, I was given the chance to watch two deliveries! The first was a C-section: SO. COOL. The anesthesiologist in the operation theater walked me through every step of the procedure. Midway through his explanation, I passed out, lol. I have nooo idea why; according to the anesthesiologist, I curled myself up in the fetal position and had no pulse for a good 40-50 seconds. He said the likely cause of my fainting, given my general bravado in the O.T. and clear lack of discomfort around blood, was over-excitement…Who the heck passes out because they’re too excited? Gah, I’m so weird -_-‘

Haha, my C-Section outfit


Anywayy. The second delivery was a normal one, and – despite the patient’s shrill screams and blood – completely devoid of any fainting spells. Thank goodness: two in one day would just be embarrassing.

Only 1.6 kg…

Things I learned yesterday:
(1) Sometimes passing out is not preceded by little black dots dancing around.
(2) Scrubs are ridiculously comfortable.
(3) Anesthesia is godly. Yesterday, we asked the patient if she was okay during the operation, and she just said (in Tamil), “Yeah, I’m good. A little sleepy though” – no mention whatsoever of the gaping fissure across her abdomen. All because of a little shot. I was impressed.

Aside from working at the hospital, I’ve also made a couple trips out of Anaikatti with a mobile medical van. Each time, we visit about five villages, some as far as 100 km away. At these various locales, we distribute medicines to patients; the medical van staff generally consists of one driver, one doctor, and two nurses. Each foray out to the villages is a tiring, full-day endeavor – but it’s truly meaningful work. Without this medical van, many tribal individuals would not receive any medical care. I’ve seen patients with breast cancer, extreme malnutrition, and wounds that haven’t healed in months. It’s a humbling experience, seeing all of this. At every second, I’m reminded of how lucky I am.

Doctor Sivaraj, with a patient





And that’s part of the reason I want to give back to this community. I’ve been taking a lot of notes, and the notebook I brought with me to India is already half-full. For a rural-tribal hospital, this Anaikatti facility is fantastic, with a complete array of medical equipment: x-ray, ultrasound, blood testing, dental machinery, and even a telemedicine center. However, one of the biggest problems with both the hospital and medical van is the high doctor and nurse turnover. As such, the nurses are always “in training” and not “trained.” Based on everything I’ve observed, I’ve come up with a mini-training program to help develop some of the nurses’ skills, and I’m hoping it has a visible impact on the quality of care administered at this hospital. I’ve had a lot of feedback and help from the doctors at the hospital to develop this idea – and now, I’ll just have to see how it goes ☺

In any case – I wish you all a wonderful year ahead, and I hope none of you partied too hard last night =P I just recently discovered wifi here in Anaikatti, so I promise more stories (hopefully, no more consisting of me losing consciousness) as time goes on.

Oh – and RA applicants: good luck!

29 responses to “A New Time, A New Place”

  1. Ryan'15 says:

    Thnx Hamsika didi !

  2. Morteza says:

    Happy new year smile
    Awesome experience, I envy you :(

  3. Sadia says:

    Hey! Happy New Year! At least you’re living it up by helping those in your native community. =D

    I have a quick question for you. I just noticed that you’re in Course 9, and that’s my course (if I actually get into MIT and I just read the course numbers, so, yea. I’m an observant person most of the time. =P). How strong is the brain + cognitive sciences field, and can I major in course 9 and minor in biomedical engineering?

    Thank you, and I hope you don’t pass out again. Seriously, passing out is not fun. Been there almost, almost fell straight down and not in a fetal position.

  4. Sadia says:

    Bleh. Not *field, like classes and department basically since my main focus is the brain.

  5. RaGHuL says:

    Hey thats Nice to hear from you that you actually went on to work with a near by hospital and Help people there…
    The interesting part is that even i’ve been to Anaikatti many times but this idea of helping didn’t strike my mind.. may be cos am still in school solving calculus problems rather than the problems of people..
    Anyway thanks for Coming to TamilNadu in your break and doing things our CM neglected to do and yea
    “Thanks For coming,Visit again”

    Enchanting Tamilnadu

  6. Steph says:

    Happy New Year!

    I loved this post. You are doing great service to people who really need it. Excellent job!

  7. Awesome experience! I did something similar, but I visited this school called Puvidham in the Tamil Nadu village of Nagarkoodal. I taught some classes there and it was an incredible experience!
    After that, every day I’ve been back in the US I’m thankful for how lucky I am!

  8. Gaurav says:

    We want some videos here….. Seriously!!
    And also congratulations on your visit to INDIA! [finally you came, we guys were waiting; smile]

    And not to forget, Happy 2011!!

  9. sharugash says:

    It’s a nice thing to do in new year.As an Asian student,what did really stimulate you to apply to MIT?As you mention that you know Tamil I really would like to know the reason.

  10. Archan says:

    Nice! My sister did something just like two years ago that but in Gujarat. She was at Goraj at the Muniseva Ashram (it’s basically a free rural hospital in the middle of some forest). I think she worked with the radiology department. Anyhow, this is a pretty cool trip.

  11. Vivek says:

    Wow!!….that is sheer good work Hamsika!….it’s very novel of you to get to something like this.
    I really appreciate that achievement!!

  12. Shagun says:

    hey can anyone help me in getting knowledge about
    getting into mit,i wanna choose robotics????actually i have till now been preparing for iit bt i really want admission in mit……….some one plzz help..!!!!

  13. jona says:

    omg this is friggin awesome!

  14. heyy SHAGUN
    where are you from?
    I live in Indore, MP, India…

    I hope I can help you if you really are through just the start!
    I have applied Regular Action to MIT this fall… did you?
    contact me at [email protected]
    or join me on Facebook (click on the link on my name below…)

    All the best with your IIT exam! I am into it too smile
    Yeah but MIT works for me so much better!!

    Happy new Year!
    Take Care…

    P.S.:Hamsika… GREAT POST! I loved it totally! Sure you are enjoying ehh! The photos are fabulous!

  15. Chaya.V says:

    Hamsika, its really nice and great, that you give back to the people, in what every way you can….
    great keep going……..
    My son has applied to MIT fall 2011……
    Hope and Pray he gets in
    whenever i see MIT’s Blogs, it gives totally a different approach the ways students can start doing difference to the society, and i always pray for my son to get an opportunity to be part of this great university…………
    Wish you very best in everything you do…
    Wish you Happy New Year


  16. hey dis is abhinay frm india doing my 5yr integrated msc in chemistry frm indian institute of technology(kharagpur).
    firstly congos u got into a pretigious college.ur parents r so proud of u na….thats really gud..

  17. and a small help also hamsika i want to do aproject r a intern in mit please can u help me abt in dis.
    my email id:[email protected]

  18. Swapna says:

    Good going Hamsika!! You are an inspiration to many…

  19. Astha says:

    Nice post!
    I love all those pics.
    Welcome back to India.

    Happy new year to you too!

  20. Hamsika '13 says:

    @ sadia – yup, you can definitely major in course 9 and minor in BME

    @ gaurav – haha, i’m working on it!

  21. Pushp says:

    “Who the heck passes out because they’re too excited? “….. that was hilarious xD raspberry

  22. Hamsika '13 says:

    @ Emma – yess, 7+9 ftw! smile

  23. Emma says:

    Happy 2011, Hamsika! What an incredible vacation!
    Every time I go on your blog I get reminded of how awesome MIT is-
    I’m so excited to attend next year and I’m looking to double in 7+9 as well!!

  24. Dear Hamsika,

    Belated Happy New Year to you & your family, May this year god may complete all your wishes.
    I have a question about the MIT,
    Does the MIT help students license their technologies & commercialize them?

    Thanks & Regards,
    Mohit Sanduja
    MIT Applicant ( from INDIA )

  25. Anonymous says:

    Hamsika meet you in MIT this year in october.

  26. Hamsika,

    I am doing my schooling right now in trichy, Sri Kamakoti vidhlaya. I want to join in aeronautical @ Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in us, kindly direct me to reach my ambition

    I need a complete planner for my carrier…

    For eg: When & Where to start,
    In which school to study, which school give best coaching for MIT aspirants,
    What are the sylabus to covered and concentrate,
    When i want to prepare for GATE, Best coaching class for GATE..
    When can i prepare for CRE, TOFEL, SAT Etc,

    I am waiting for your valueable reply…

    Thanks & Regards
    Tarun Raghavan

  27. ravi says:

    Dear Hamsika,
    A happy new year to you. Being a doctor myself I could understand and sense the excitement you have experienced. It was great. I have a small request to you. My son would like to apply for MIT next year. can you spare some time to explain me the right approach? I am very proud that you are studying at the great MIT. … Dr. Ravi .

  28. Hey Hamsika,
    these are some great photos! I’m glad to see that you care about the people and your try to help them.