I cannot believe it has almost been a month since I’ve landed in this southern part of heaven [India]. Who knew it took this long to get settled into a new city, half-way across the world? And why Chennai?
Let me share a little about myself, first. I’m an Indian-American, placed at the center of a game of tug of war. Growing up in an Indian household [in the United States] has challenged me to balance two starkly different lifestyles. I’ve also learned how such unique ways of life affect our social, mental, and physical health.
I’ll give you an example. My grandmother has been fighting diabetes for over a decade, and her condition worsened after she moved to the United States- where she encountered unhealthy shifts in her diet and physical activity. In India, she could leave the house, visit friends, and go shopping. In Charlotte, her social ties are limited, and she is restricted to the confines of her neighborhood.
Many other Indians like my grandmother are suffering from chronic diseases, and the International Diabetes Federation even predicts over 100 million people in India will be diagnosed as diabetic by the year 2030! Recently, there has also been a surge in children who are developing diabetes due to unhealthy lifestyles.
So you ask…why Chennai? My ten-week stay in this urban city serves a two-fold purpose:
- To learn how food, culture, and other lifestyle practices influence the rapidly escalating prevalence of diabetes in this urban city
- To analyze the effectiveness of a school-based intervention in teaching Chennai’s youth about diabetes
I am so excited to collaborate with the Madras Diabetes Research Foundation (which doubles as a Diabetes Hospital—more on this later). Away from work, I enjoy exploring Chennai, and integrating myself into their unique lifestyle- shopping, eating, visiting temples, drinking tea, practicing yoga, walking the beach, etc.
Thanks for reading my first blog post- we will catch up next time! 🙂