Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Day 13, Monday, 28th November 2011

The new week began with the arrival of rations in our house at Mukhattat-ul-Visam. I wish to inform the readers that I had witnessed a rather coarse exchange of words between the supervisor of the house and the other two doctors who stay with me yesterday evening. As the exchange took place in Arabic, I had to rely on Raid's version of what that exchange had been all about. He told me that the supervisor had told the two doctors in no uncertain terms that their free stay had to end within the next 2 days, as they had already been allotted their work - the hospital they would work in etc, and so, it was up to them to find an alternative accommodation - and leave this place. Indirectly, he also indicated to Raid that I would also have to move on, as my work location had also been fixed. 

In the context of this conversation, Drs. Raid and Sophy had already indicated to me that they had shortlisted one or two homes which they were planning to take on rent and hence, shift out. I was, therefore, surprised when the weekly rations were unloaded and piled up in the refrigerator exactly as in the weeks earlier. The natural question was - who were these rations for? I laughed to myself at this, but kept my counsel and went about with my daily chores. After breakfast, I called up Dr. Shehab, the Medical Director of the Al-Muwayh hospital. He told me that I should expect the driver today, as the hospital ambulance had already left for Ta'if with a referral patient. 

I packed almost all of my luggage, leaving only about ten or eleven items such as the tooth brush, the soaps, the towel (and so on) still outside. When the driver hadn't called up until  about 1:00 p.m., I called up Dr. Shehab once again. He must have called up the driver, because after about ten minutes, the driver contacted me and asked me to go to Ta'if city near Panda store with my luggage. I told him that was not possible to do, because I had at least 5 pieces of luggage weighing over 75 kg and it would be necessary for him to bring the ambulance to the place where I was currently staying. In fact, he relented only after I had called up Dr. Shehab once again and asked him to advise the doctor to come to Mukhattat-ul-Visam. 

Accordingly, I packed everything I had left outside, and arranged to shift all the pieces of luggage towards the exit. The ambulance had already arrived, and the driver was waiting impatiently with one of his friends. He never offered to pick up any piece of luggage. It was thanks to the Sri Lankan cleaning staff of mine that we could finally manage to load the ambulance with all my luggage. A sister from the Al Muweh Hospital, sister Cielo, was in the ambulance. She had accompanied a patient who was now safely at the King Faisal Hospital. She and I acquainted ourselves with each other as the ambulance returned to Panda for some more work. It seemed that a few more nurses were to join in. In the meantime, both, the driver and his friend, suddenly disappeared. When I asked Cielo (pronounced Shey-lo) where they had gone, she pointed to a restaurant just opposite where the ambulance was parked and said that the two had gone inside to have lunch. 

I, too, went into the same place, and ordered lunch for myself. The half plate of browned rice with a potato gravy, a small wati of chilly and a Pepsi can - all together costing just SR 5.00!

After the lunch, the vehicle moved on, and stopped at two places to pick up two nurses, viz. Sister Shehnu and Sister Tasleem-Fatema. We got a move on at half past three, and the driver then zoomed off towards Al Muwayh. It might seem incredible, but between the two of them in the front cabin, they covered the distance of over 190 km in just over an hour! We sailed into the Al-Muweh General Hospital (AMGH) at around half past four.

A new chapter was about to begin in my life as I climbed down from the rear cabin of the ambulance. I went in to the Emergency Room (ER), where one of the drivers was waiting to inform about my arrival to the Mudeer in charge of the ER. Presently, I was being introduced to everyone from the resident doctors in the ER, to the nurses, to the cleaning staff, to the admin guys who were sitting with the ER Mudeer. The welcome was genuine, but the equation soon spoiled when it became clear that I wasn’t going to be taken to a prepared room very soon.

The minutes turned into long pauses and those, into hours. So, while the Mudeer made calls to the powers-that-be, I languished in the reception area, meeting the various doctors, smiling at patients, speaking to the nurses, and so on. I was experiencing a strong sense of déjà vu about the way this wait for an appropriate accommodation was stretching.  So far, the two constructive suggestions that had come from the mudeer were to explore the doctors’ rooms on the first floor,or to consider using one of the male ward double-occupancy rooms till the next opportunity for an available room was made.

The rooms on the first floor were not well-appointed. As far as the second option was concerned, it was a non-starter, even though the room that they showed me looked quite decent and had a well-appointed bathroom and toilet and two beds that looked inviting. 

I went back down to the Mudeer’s office and requested him to please try something else. In the meantime, I finally called up Dr. Shehab. He heard me out, and then said that he would come down as soon as possible (he stays near the hospital, but outside it).

Eventually, he took me to a 2-storey building just behind the hospital, but within its compound; this, I learned later, also houses the main hospital administrative Mudeer's office. On the ground floor of the wing I was taken to, there were about 9-10 separate rooms, of which he led me towards and opened the door to room No. 8. It was a decent room with 2 beds, a cup-board and a separate door toilet. However, it had no other conveniences - ergo, no refrigerator, no TV, no washing  mac … but it sufficed, and I agreed. The hospital helpers and cleaners gave the room a little brush and mop while I returned to the hospital to have my dinner (served free, courtesy of the cafeteria supervisor, an Egyptian named Mahmoud Zaid). It consisted of hygienically packed salad, one Khubbus, a lot of rice and a delicious chouli bhaji. A bottle of water is a part of the meal, as is a fruit (an apple this time).

After the dinner, I returned to the room, and arranged for the delivery of my luggage from the hospital (where it had been taken to the first floor initially) to this room. I retired to bed around 11:30 p.m. And, thus ended yet another eventful day.

P.S. I signed on their muster to make my entry into the hospital official. 

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