terse & at large

GRRRRR. Arrrgh. And sometimes a travel log.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Muzaffarabad, Part 6

I go back to the hospital. It's 3 pm, nearly time for the medical team to pack up and return to base camp for their rest. They've been at it, non-stop, for seven hours, with only twenty minutes at lunch for a break. Because it's Ramadan, they have their meal in a tent at the back of the hospital, near the OT tent. Chin calls it the 'tactical lunch tent'.

There's still not much else I can do in the field hospital. Worse than pointing a camera in the faces of people in the IDP would be to point it at them when they're on their hospital beds. Pearl and I take a tactical smoke break ourselves behind the newly-constructed field toilets, courtesy of Oxfam. Masoud is amused, of course. We tell him our reasons for doing so: being sensitive and all. He tells us it isn't a problem - we are in a hospital after all. And we're not local. So we smoke our ciggies, still behind the toilets and only the thin wall of the tent separating from the moans of pain of someone just beyond it.

During the lull, Masoud passes us his scrapbook to fill in some of our thoughts on the whole sorry tragedy and to leave him our contact details. It takes me a while to put down in words what I feel (even now, it's not as easy I'd thought it'd be). It is here we find out about each other: his education, why he'd come, where he was from.

He also passes us some food and water he'd gathered from the hospital pantry - mostly packaged biscuits. We hadn't eaten all day since breakfast, but neither Pearl nor I were hungry. We thank him and I stuff the packages into one of my vest pockets.

We talk for a while. It was good to take a break from the work in the morning and then the photography in the afternoon.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

I get roped in to become a temporary cameraman for Pearl since there wasn't anything for me to do - I'd thought my work for the day was done - until the vehicle came to pick us up. As we moved through the four tents forming the different areas/ wards of the hospital (dubbed 'Cirque du Soleil' by the members of the first team for the motley colours and the hues they cast on our faces), a local Pakistani doctor (or paramedical) comes up to me and asks if I could take photos of some of the patients. It's unusual that I get approached in this manner, and more unusual that I'm allowed to shoot at all.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

And so I do.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

I limit myself to just the children's ward. It's still a bit uncomfortable for me to be wandering about the adults.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

And in the distance, landslides continue.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

Related Links:
Flickr Photoset

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9


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