Just a thought....
Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

A week or so....

11 Days ago, I went in for minor surgery. What a difference it was to my previous experience here of health care! I was assigned to a hospital out on the periphery. To those know São Paulo, you will know that this isn't exactly in the best part of town. Let's just say, it was an area where we made a point of dressing down and looking ordinary. I took my little camera along, knowing it would be stupid to use it. Jorge and I took the metro out, then a bus to the hospital. On our way through the neighbourhood, we saw tiny stores in garages, equally tiny homes, a lot of makeshift, women standing in the street gossiping, their nylon shopping bags on their arms. The atmosphere was a friendly one though. The bus conductor knew each passenger that got on and chatted as we drove. "Ah, Mrs X! Going for your checkup today?"

The hospital itself was small; a low ceilinged affair. We took our number at the main door and settled to wait. The building was no marvel, just brick and tile, sufficient, as opposed to smart. Surprisingly, we didn't have to wait long. I was ushered in. They forbade Jorge until they heard it was for surgery. Strictly speaking, I didn't need him, but he was my translator for the day... just in case. After registering, a process where our family history, all pertinent family folklore and related matters was explored, we were led to a waiting room. There were 2 other pairs, a father and daughter, and an elderly couple. Chat was quiet. The young girl got up frequently to check on progress. Eventually the surgeon arrived. We found out later that he was the director of surgery. I was the last in the queue. Once the others were out, I sneaked a photo of this cabinet. Jorge and I amused ourselves wondering what was in the cabinet. The rest of the room was bare. It appeared that the cabinet hadn't been used in a long time.

What struck me at this hospital was that everything was old, well worn, very clean and fairly organized - a remarkable thing in itself here. I was treated with respect, mingled with curiosity. Not many foreigners make their way out there. The questions about South Africa were, for once, fairly intelligent. A far cry from my one lawyer student who asked me if we had high rises and telephones in South Africa, or the bank director who's reaction was "but you're white!" I was asked which nations colonised South Africa to give me my fair, blue-eyed looks and what languages do we speak there. For once, I wasn't treated like a freak when I didn't understand something... a refreshing change.

We had a good mail day yesterday too. Our trip to the post office rewarded us with, not one, but two packages and a very belated Christmas card from Lithuania. Tatiana got a shoebox full of marshmallows and something rather divine called Ghirardelli Chocolate Peppermint Bark from her ex-boyfriend. Love that boy! ; ) We don't get marshmallows here, so that was a rare treat. Tat took out a candle and we 'roasted' some marshmallows over the candle. Yes, crazy, but good. I got a very special package from my friend Kippy... a really beautiful Nevada Christmas ornament.

While I was writing this blog, Jorge drew my attention to a news report on Zimbabwe. It seems the Zimbabweans finally have something to smile about. Their central bank is going to distribute a ten million dollar bill! Go here for the full report.

This bill is being introduced to save the Zimbabwean people from having to carry large bags of money around. "A hamburger at an ordinary cafe costs about 15 million Zimbabwe dollars ($6). But that price has trebled this month amid shortages of bread, meat and most other basic goods." And here we thought we had it rough. Currently, their highest bill is a seventy-five thousand dollar bill. Their inflation is sitting at 25 000%. To give you an idea of the exchange value: "The new 10-million note is the equivalent of about $4 at the dominant black market exchange rate." You know what the funny part here is? If you expand the photo, you will see that on the bill is printed that the bill expires on or before 30 June 2008! I have never seen an expiry date on a bank note before. They haven't given it a very long shelf-life, now have they?

Now for something totally different.... If you have a moment, you simply have to read this article! It will make you smile :)

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