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Dr. Ida–for the Women of India

The Christian Medical College in Vellore, India, started as a single-bed clinic, by Dr. Ida Sophia Scudder who served as a missionary for 50 years. Today, it is one of the top-ranked educational, healthcare and research institutes in the country.

The first class of 14 women—taught by Dr. Ida and a few of her associates, with only one microscope, one skeleton, and few textbooks—faced regional end-of-first-year examinations along with men from established government-run medical schools.  Dr. Ida tried to encourage the girls:

     “All anybody can expect of you is to do your best.”
     The girls were not deceived.  “Best” to Dr. Ida meant nothing short of 90 percent.  They huddled on the long, hard seats staring at each other in terrified silence…Examinations according to the British system were matters of educational life or death.
     Ida, herself one of the examiners, met Colonel Bryson in the hall…
     “Ah, Dr. Scudder! So you’ve brought up your first class for examination?”

“Yes.”  Ida smiled at him brightly.
            His face clouded with sympathetic concern.  “My dear doctor, please don’t be discouraged if none of your students makes the grade this first time.”
            “None of them?” echoed Ida bleakly.
            “”It wouldn’t be surprising…only a small percentage of men pass it.  Naturally we couldn’t expect too much of such a young project, especially all women.  But they can always try again.  Promise me you won’t give up, whatever happens.”
            “I promise,” said Ida.  She went on, head held high but heart sinking to the region of her shoes.
            The grim days passed. Huddled in a tight, silent group in the mission bungalow in Madras where they were housed, the girls waited to hear the results.  Lists from various men’s college were posted and read with dismay.  Only about 20 percent—one in five—was passing!
            “And we’re only women!” wailed one of the fourteen in anguish.
            In a note from the considerate Colonel Bryson, Ida learned the results before they were posted. The distance from college to mission bungalow seemed interminable.  She wished it were a tennis court or a racetrack so she could run at top speed and still be considered proper.  But she reached it finally, stood in the doorway of the room where they were waiting. They read the answer in her radiant face.
            “Lambs!”  She held out her arms to them.  “You did it!  Passed. Every single one of you.  And four of you in the first class.  And—can you believe it?  This places our school at the head of all the medical schools in the presidency!” …
            The next time she met Colonel Bryson, he shook his head.  “I’m afraid, Doctor,” he said sheepishly, “that your girls are setting too high a standard for our men to live up to.”
            Ida only smiled.

From  Dr. Ida, The inspiring story of Dr. Ida Scudder, fifty years a medical missionary in India bu Dorothy Clarke Wilson.

I’ve read a couple of Wilson’s other books–I’d like to own every one of them.

Three Answers

The answers to “What do Winnie the Pooh and John the Baptist have in common?”

  1. They both ate honey.
  2. They both wore fur coats.
  3. They have the same middle name.

That’s from my notes from an adult camp meeting quite a few years ago, included in a letter to family which turned up in a box of papers a few days ago.

I found my very old copy of Winnie the Pooh. When I was little, I enjoyed the stories–How do Christopher Robin and his friends resolve this dilemma?  Now I appreciate the humor.  Once again, it’s good bedtime reading.

 

 

Winnie the Pooh and John the Baptist

What Three Things do Winnie the Pooh and John the Baptist have in common?

If you can’t guess, maybe these quotations will help:

Winnie The Pooh

Once upon a time, a very long time ago now, about last Friday, Winnie-the-Pooh lived in a forest all by himself under the name of Sanders.

(IWhat does “under the name” mean?” asked Christopher Robin.
“It means he had the name over the door in gold letters and he lived under it.”
Winnie-the-Pooh wasn’t quite sure,” said Christopher Robin.
“Now I am,” said a growly voice.
“Then I will go on,” said I.)

One day when he was out walking, he came to an open place in the middle of the forest, and in the middle of this place was a large oak-tree, and from the top of the tree there came a loud buzzing noise.

Winnie-the-Pooh sat down at the foot of the tree, put his head between his paws, and began to think.

First of all, he said to himself: “That buzzing noise means something.  You don’t get a buzzing noise like that, just buzzing and buzzing, without its meaning something.  If there’s a buzzing noise, somebody’s making a buzzing noise, and the only reason for making a buzzing noise that I know of is because you’re a bee…And the only reason for being a bee that I know of is making honey.”

John the Baptist  Matthew 3, Modern English Version

In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying:

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord;
make His paths straight.’ ”

This same John had clothing made of camel’s hair, a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey.  Then Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said to them, “O generation of vipers, who has warned you to escape from the wrath to come? Therefore, bear fruit worthy of repentance, and do not think to say within yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I say to you that God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the ax is put to the tree roots. Therefore, every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

Answers to be posted tomorrow.

In case you’re wondering: One answer was obvious to me, I should have guessed the second, and the third—I had no idea!

River Crossing by Elephant

Eric Dinerstein traveled by elephant for the final fifty miles to the Royal Karnali-Bardia Wildlife Reserve in Nepal, where he was to study tigers.  “…and this was a slow elephant.”  In the seasonal rain, the path turned into a mud swamp.

After the rains stopped…we reached the banks of the Babai, and, to my dismay, the river was a deep brown torrent.  Across the surging water beckoned the rosewood and acacia forests of Bardia.  The drivers were determined to cross without delay. The mahout, sitting behind the elephant’s head, urged her down the riverbank.  She stalled at the water’s edge, perhaps guaging the the speed of the current or the stupidity of the humans sitting on her back.  The mahout would have none of it.  Whacking her with his stick across her broad forehead and muttering curses, he drove her forward.  Within seconds, the elephant was up to her knees and elbows, then shoulders, and before I could tell the driver that we might want to consider our plan of attack, we were swept away.

For a brief moment, only the tip of the elephant’s trunk and my head were above water.  Elephants are surprisingly bouyant, however, and powerful swimmers, and the drivers, who held onto the saddle ropes, soon had us back on the riverbank.

I had learned a priceless lesson that all of us must discover in our own way:

When life knocks you off your horse, or your elephant, get back on and cross the river.

Fireworks of 1870s, by Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott described a fireworks display in Eight Cousins, a book published in 1875.

Uncle Mac takes 13-year-old Rose Campbell into Boston Bay to watch fireworks from his boat:

“…they are going up all over the city, and how pretty they are,” said Rose, folding her mantle about her and surveying the scene with pensive interest.

“Hope my fellows have not got into trouble up there,” muttered Uncle Mac, adding with a satisfied chuckle, as a spark shone out, “No; there it goes!  Look, Rosy, and see how you like this one; it was ordered especially in honor of your coming.”

Rose looked with all her eyes, and saw a spark grow into the likeness of a golden vase, then green leaves came out, and then a crimson flower flowing on the darkness with a splendid lustre.

“Is it a rose, Uncle?” she asked, clasping her hands with delight as she recognized the handsome flower.

“Of course it is!  Look again and guess what those are,” answered Uncle  Mac, chuckling and enjoying it all like a boy.

A wreath of what looked at first like purple brooms appeared below the vase, but Rose guessed what they were meant for and stood straight up, holding by his shoulder and crying excitedly,__

 

“Thistles, Uncle, Scotch thistles! There are seven of them, one for each boy [her cousins]!  Oh, what a joke!”  and she laughed so hard that she plumped into the bottom of the boat and stayed there until the spectacle was quite gone.

 

I think I’ve read elsewhere about fireworks in a stars-and-stripes pattern–or did I see or imagine that?

Do we have such spectacles today, nearly a century and a half after?  Has anyone seen a fireworks display with identifiable flowers or patriotic symbols?

Tigerland and other Unintended Destinations

Eric Dinerstein entered college with a goal: filmmaking.  He enrolled in the film school at Northwestern University. Evanston, Illinois.  Perhaps he dreamed of Hollywood, but no Hollywood fantasy could match his adventures since.

During my sophomore year…friends talked me into moving to a farmhouse set on 250- acres of woods, abandoned pastures, and swamp… While wandering along a stream, I accidentally spooked a sharp-billed bird that squawked in indigation and flew off… I did observe the escapee long enough to identify it in my field guide as a little green heron Ia most accurate name, says a colleague, because it sports so little green in its plumage.)… Every new species of bird and wildflower was a revelation, as if I were actually the first naturalist to find it…

I began to dream of the glorious life of a field biologist, while filmmaking seemed less appealing by the moment. The most talented graduates of my program at Northwestern had just been hired to shoot a commercial for a lightbulb factory.

Tigerland and Other Unintended Destinations is Eric’s adventure tales with tigers, bats, hippopotamuses, African wild dogs, snow leopards, American bison, and more.   He’s not only an outstanding wildlife biologist/conservationist, but he’s a great writer with an outstanding sense of humor.

More about Eric Dinerstien and his books later, but I’ll end this post with a quotation from early his career, arriving to study tigers in Nepal:

But on this night, my tent mate was Surya Sharma, a studious, high–caste Brahmin in his early twenties and the son of a famous Nepalese judge.  As we were drifting off to sleep, the sound of loud chewing and lip smacking stirred us awake.  Surya peered through the insect netting.  He reached over and clutched my arm.  “Rhinos!” he whispered fearfully, using the English rather than the Nepali word (gaida), not wanting to gamble our lives on my Nepali vocabulary.  We had been warned earlier that rhinos routinely trample and kill several tourists each year.  I peeked through the fly mesh.  Surya’s grip tightened.  I saw an enormous greater one-horned female rhinocerous accompanied by a calf.  Eventually they wandered off, but the interlopers left a lasting impression on both of us.  For me, it was the first face-to-face experience with a creature I would eventually devote years of my life to conserving.  For Surya, it was the abrupt end of tenure as a Peace Corps language teacher.  When our program was over, he went straight to law school.