Saturday, June 20, 2015

Zalm vs. Al Muwayh

I have been asked this question by the administration in both the villages, as they have some sort of friendly rivalry between these two medical centers which are located within 50 km of each other in the vast expanse of central Saudi Arabia; I have been asked this question by the doctors and nurses in both places, who tend to weigh the benefits of each place against their disadvantages; I have been asked this question by my friends off-line and on-line: by reading my blogs, they are moved to ask me which place is better; and finally, I ask MYSELF this question each time I do a duty stint at Zalm. Which place is better?

Let me try and analyse this question: first of all, there cannot be a blanket answer. We have to consider many aspects of life before we come to any sensible conclusion. The obvious positives of living in Zalm are: lighter OPDs and admissions; stay in the hospital-provided accommodation with free meals and water all through the 24 hours; and, a cleaner, newer, better-designed hospital with an energetic administrator who is willing to spend to make the facility better (this is not just my opinion, but an opinion that resonates with many people both in Zalm and in Al Muwayh). 

On the other hand, Al Muwayh has a more lively atmosphere in the evenings; the people are familiar; my house is here, whatever be its advantages or disadvantages; I can cook my own food - a definite advantage, as I could not stomach the canteen food in Zalm that was being dished out to me every day; a hospital whose people I am friendly and comfortable with; and its proximity to Taif (Zalm is a further 50 km away from Taif, if you are looking at distances).

The disadvantages of Zalm: it is a much smaller and ill-equipped village; there is no garden or green space anywhere; no Indian restaurant serving south Indian dishes; it has a much hotter weather on a day-to-day basis throughout the year ... and not just that, it is dustier, with the hot wind swirling the desert sands all out on the roads, under the doors, inside ones' rooms and so on; the roads are not well-lit in the evenings and nights; the room rents for someone who is settling there are much higher; and the restaurants and the bank are quite far from the hospital, so that it is a lot more inconvenient.

The disadvantages of Al Muwayh: none, within the confines of what we are talking about. There are two large pharmacies, two south-Indian restaurants, four Pakistani restaurants (all on the highway, of course) and a lot of Saudi and Yemeni joints with a limited but tasty repertoire of chicken and rice.

The conclusion: Al Muwayh scores above Zalm in many respects. I would rate the living experience a lot better here than in Zalm.

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