We live in an area called Green Park. It is such a small area compared to the rest of Delhi. It takes us about 20 minutes to get to the heart of the city from the hospital depending upon the time of day with traffic. I have really liked living in Green Park. The hospital is on a very busy street but you have access to a shopping area (two blocks long with stores on just one side) that is about a five minute walk. You can walk to Deer Park which is again about ten minutes from here. This park is quiet (the first place I could actually hear birds chirping), green with plants and trees - no grass, and has a fenced in section of deer - they look like bambi with white dots, but many have antlers with their velvet still on. You can also walk to another area about ten minutes away that has a quaint feel to it with cobble stones and then end up at some spectacular ruins.
The hospital has an outdoor lift that takes patients out of the building. Once outside there is a small space for parking in front of the hospital. If we want to play cricket we have figured out how to get most of the cars moved out of our way. Green Park is located close to many other hospitals and laboratories. Just walking for five minutes to Green Park to shop is an experience in itself every single day. The vehicles drive on the opposite side of the road than in America. It is so hard to remember that when you are walking. You have to cross the street at two places to get on the side of the shops. You would think that is a breeze but in fact it is a challenge. The first few times you are scared, but after that you just become determined and hold your ground for the opportunity to just go and expect them to stop or swerve. You have to feel like you are a vehicle yourself to create the space and have a command of presence for them to believe you are NOT going to move. It is no problem now because I get it, but those first few steps were a challenge in courage.
On our walk to Green Park you see bicycles used for transporting everything under the sun - regular bikes and ones that pull a wooden small trailer. They transport blankets, trash, furniture, laundry, hospital supplies on a regular bike (three cases of 1 liter bottles of water, boxed milk and other supplies), pipes, bricks, sticks, wash machines, brooms, etc. You see women in their beautiful bright saris doing manual labor carrying bricks, grain, sand, groceries on their heads, or raking rocks and digging trenches. The saris are beautiful and look like splashes of butterflies along the brown roads. There is a man on one corner that irons clothes (coal irons) on the street under a tarp and another woman in the street next to the shops that does the same. There is a man that gives men a razor shave outside in front of a mirror tacked to a fence. There are several people that set up on the street to make food out of one bowl and coal burner.
The shops along that strip really can provide anything you need. They are about 20 feet by 40 feet with an aisle of merchandise in the middle. You can barely walk around and pick out what you want inside. The places are stuffed with merchandise and some times you need to ask the grocery "boys" (really men) to find what you want hidden away. Everyone is very helpful. There is an amazing amount of American food here just in Green Park if you look hard enough. Not your favorites or comfort food necessarily but many, many familiar labels. Everything is in English and they write in English, but Hindi is the language most speak. You can tell who has been educated because they speak perfect English. Some of the children talk to you and are so proud that they can converse with you in English. Education is very, very important and taken seriously. You can see the pride in the children's' faces when they realize they can speak to someone white. There is a toy store, 7 little grocery stores, three salons, two magazine stores, two health stores, several phone stores, a camera shop, two restaurants and two coffee shops - all of them very small stores. The only difficulty with the area is that they are not accessible. You need several people to help lift Monica up onto the area (18" curbs and steps) and then the pavement is all cracked. We do it, but it's just not easy. She cannot fit into any store either. It's not fun being left outside while I go in to shop for groceries or plastic containers at the toy store. I go now by myself unless I bribe her with ice cream and then she will make the trip.
Actually for the first time, I told her I'd get her ice cream if she wore her braces to get up the steps and see the ice cream to pick out. I pushed her in the chair and she stood up and moved straight legged in the calipers up the huge curb and stairs and then she waddled up three more stairs to be in the shop and look at the ice cream. She was mad as a hornet but did it. Bribery works wonders. She is NOT comfortable in her calipers unless she is in physio. She looks like she would be but without them her legs do not support her yet at all. Her confidence level with the braces hasn't caught up with what she is capable of doing. Her knees still don't support, but that should come in time. The rest of her body is remarkably strong.
I cannot begin to understand psychologically how difficult it must be, because you cannot feel anything, to just put yourself out there with confidence. She is incredibly stubborn and fearless which is why she is still alive. Monica continues to amaze me everyday with her spirit, joyfulness and the willingness to rise up to any occasion and try everything. She never takes advantage of her situation and wants to get the absolute most out of every day!
Monica is helping me put together a slide show of Green Park. It should be up in a couple of days.