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IPPNW Wagah Border to Delhi Peace March

March 3, 2008
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This is Marcus, from Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia, in Ludiana on our second night of the IPPNW Medical Student Peace Tour from the Wagah Border to Delhi. This is our journey so far:

1st March 2008 – Bumpy Ride Crossing Border/First Meetings

After a precarious tuk tuk ride, sent by the amazing Ankita, I arrived at the meeting spot of 40 or so delegates from all over the world. Unbeknownst to us, we were to bond over a 12 hour back breaking and neck breaking bus-ride from Delhi to Amritsar. The delegates included Indian, Mongolian, Swiss, Dutch, Ukrainian, German, a Nigerian and Latin American medical students and young doctors, all of whom were eager to find out about each other and the medical school system in which we all worked in.

We had a dinner before we left that night, which was great, except for the fact that some got “lost”. The aforementioned bus ride was definitely an experience to whinge about. Sleep was quite out of the question, with any REM sleep constantly being interrupted by the jumping of the bus due to pot holes in the roads the size of untreated 3 month-old Burkitt’s lymphomas (John the Nigerian assures me that these get big – and this was his analogy!)

2nd March 2008 – Arrival in Amritsar/Wagah Border

We finally reach our Amritsar destination, at Government Medical College, where we are joined by the Bangladeshi delegates. We make our way to the Wagah border, which divides India and Pakistan, where we are again joined by more students – the Nepali delegates! We all eagerly waited for the Pakistani group but we were only able to welcome two German students who had been working in Pakistan and joined our march. It seems that the Pakistani delegates were held up and their Visas did not come through.

For the afternoon/evening, we visited the Golden Temple – the largest and grandest temple for the Sikh people (one of the four major religions within India). This place of worship was so incredibly beautiful peaceful, with hundreds of people engaging in workshops. We ate at the Golden Temple, where it is free for all who come and want food! Imagine a hall of hundreds of people getting dinner for free every half hour or so!! Talk about the first step to universal healthcare!!! No one in Punjabi should have to go hungry…

That night we roughed it a little, Indian style, but it was the first chance to get a proper sleep, not on a moving vehicle in over 36 hours, so everyone slept like a log.

3rd March 2008 – Medical Exchange at Gov. Medical College/Street Actions

A delegate from each country was asked (for those of us who were the only single delegate from our respective countries) to talk to the Government Medical College students at a seminar in the morning after a special Amritsar breakfast. The aim was to increase awareness amongst the Amritsar medical students.

More bus riding ensued from Amritsar to Jalander, where we were met by the IMA (Indian Medical Association) holding picket signs with “NO TO NUCLEAR WEAPONS” in the street. This was followed by a motorbike precession to a hall where more talking and speech giving occurred. Already 2 hours or so behind schedule, we then made our rowdy way to Ludhiana. By rowdy I mean Nepali delegates vs. Bangladesh delegates in a singing and dancing contest in the isles of the bus. Word from the other bus suggests it was much the same with the Indian group singing at the top of their lungs followed by a flower fight (we were given flower necklaces when we arrived in Jalander). “THROW FLOWERS, NOT BOMBS!” – Lydia, Ecuador

In Ludhiana, we were at the Baba Jasmant Singh Dental College, Hospital and Research Institute. We were so warmly received, with Baba Ji himself welcoming us and blessing each one of us (at this point we are 74 delegates). Dinner was massive and in true Panjabi style – which is eat yourself silly with wonderful food until you can’t eat anymore (hunger as an urge is not considered at all when approaching food i.e. it doesn’t matter if you’re not hungry; you eat!). And now we have gone upstairs and settled into our wonderfully luxurious rooms for the night…

The Indian hospitality has been wonderful.

On to Delhi,

Marcus

 

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