Thursday, March 29, 2012

Day 133, Tuesday, 27th March, 2012, Ta'if and then, Zalm

If you have read my post for yesterday, you probably already know that I spent the night in Ta'if after some unusual twists in my Monday story. Today, I was to perform tasks for my other friends in Ta'if. I was to get some documents from the Saudi Council office for the newly joined Syrian surgeon Dr. Majid Shaaib, and to visit the CPR office to fix an appointment for Dr. Sadiya, the Pakistani resident doctor for her course in Basic Life support. I accomplished both the visits on my own, but with considerable on-telephone assistance from Dr. Tariq Khan, the Peshawari surgeon who works in Ta'if at the King Faisal hospital here. I have had the honour to befriend him earlier this year when he, like Dr. Asadullah, and one Dr. Aly Kamran (also a Pakistani surgeon) had visited Al Muweh to substitute for Dr. Shahid Hasan who was on vacation in India. I finished both my visits before the afternoon prayer, and then contacted Dr. Asad to help me reach the SAPTCO bus stand (with a small diversion to Panda to purchase some stuff -esp. food) for my return trip to Al Muweh. 

I was to go to Zalm to replace their Pediatrician today evening, and I was planning to reach Al Muweh well before my scheduled departure at about 4:00 p.m. as I had not yet packed my bags etc. I was quite optimistic that I would be able to reach well in time since I was informed by my more senior friends that buses to Riyadh (and therefore stopping at Al Muweh) would be available every half an hour. Accordingly, I was not worried. Then, something happened that changed my equanimity. I got a call from the Pediatrician at Zalm at about half past twelve p.m. He sounded distressed and asked me when I was reaching there as he wanted to leave early. I was shocked, and being inexperienced in the realities of life, quite panicky when I informed him that I was nowhere near Zalm and, in fact, still in Ta'if, as my medical director had told me I would be leaving after As'r prayers. My planned visit to Panda turned into one filled with anxiety. My repeated attempts to reach my medical director failed as he would not pick up his cell phone. Eventually, when I got through to him through another doctor's phone, he was reassuring when he said that as per his talk with me earlier, I would not be required to go before about 5:00 p.m., and that I should not worry. Even so, I remained anxious and did not buy anything except a 6" Subway Chicken Teriyaki sandwich to eat on the way to Al Muweh in lieu of lunch. Dr. Asad left me at the bus stand at about ten minutes before one o'clock, but as this was time for salaah, there was no one to sell the tickets. The ticket window eventually opened at a little after 1:00 p.m. I was first in the queue, but an old Saudi fellow jumped ahead of me and about 5 other people in the queue to request for a ticket for his (probably) grandchildren and daughter-in-law. His ticketing took another fifteen minutes. After this was my turn. I expected to board a bus in the next ten minutes, or at about half past one, but, unfortunately, there was no bus till 2:00 p.m. I was getting worried now about the time I would reach Al Muweh. I remained restless as I waited for the bus to arrive.

It did, in fact, come at exactly 2 minutes before its time of 2:00 p.m., but it was another 20 minutes before we actually left. The ride itself was event-free, and to my pleasant surprise, the driver drove quite fast, so that I reached Al Muweh around 3:50 p.m.! The walk to my house was accomplished in another ten minutes, and after a flurry of packing etc, I was ready to go at half past four p.m. I called the ER manager to inform him that I was ready, and would he please send a car to my place to pick me up and take me to Zalm. This, in fact, was the major problem, and it was only at 5:15 p.m. that a car actually came to pick me up. The driver was the manager himself and the car was actually a pick-up belonging to Bandar, one of the ambulance drivers, who was also with us on the short journey to Zalm. 

The road to Zalm is a dusty one, and Zalm itself is no less dusty. The hospital model is more or less similar to the one at Al Muweh, but it is a lot newer, more well organised and definitely more colourful, to name its major differences from the Al Muweh place. I met the Mudeer of the ER, who then helped me to settle into a room in the hospital that was already occupied by Dr. Prakasan K.S., a Ta'if based anesthesiologist who is also here to substitute for an absent doctor. I met Dr. _____, the middle-aged Egyptian pediatrician who I was supposed to relieve, and the pleasure on his face was a sight to see. He was gone within 15 minutes of my arrival! I also met some of the ER residents and nurses and went around the hospital to see the facilities for myself. The room where I was to stay was pretty clean and basic, but sharing it with someone else was something I had not bargained for when I accepted the posting. In the event, Dr. Prakasan turned out to be a cool, level headed Keralite who was pretty affable and charming in his own way. We received our dinners together in the lobby outside the room, and had the food together as well. I warned him to beware of my snoring, but he rubbished it, saying he had no problem with this and would sleep as usual. I laughed then for the first time in the evening, and began to enjoy my stint here. 

I slept a little after 1:00 a.m., and thus ended another eventful day.

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