Rants, raves and random observations from an itinerant epidemiologist.
100 in 1000
Spend a week up a mountain learning to ski
Visit Karoline's place in Moravia
Hold a conversation in Czech (only)
Drink 500ml of each of the following beers:
Respond to at least one GOARN request (WHO and MSF are
Travel across the Atlantic
Return to South America
Read a book to, or with, an impressionably aged child
Participate in one NanoWriMo Challenge and come within at least 10,000 words of the goal length
Have my nose pierced
Have my next tattoo drawn
Purchase the perfect jeans (x 2 pairs)
Attend a spin class 3 times a week for 8 consecutive weeks
Bake Viv's cheesecake
Make David's casserole
Make David's Chicken Cashew-nut Stirfry
Invite 4 people who don't know one another too well to dinner
Ride from Vienna to Venice on a motorbike (pillion acceptable, those less desirable)
Attend a book group for at least two books
Go on a choir weekend (learn and perform difficult piece in two/three days)
Visit Madame Tussaud's (in London)
Take an architecture appreciation course
Join an all-girl group and sing a solo
Publish in a scientific journal (top two authors)
Cook a duck or other 'waterfowl'.
Locate the Al-Timimi's from Doha Veterinary Practise
Have a pedicure
Maintain a Brazilian (ouch) for three months.
Find a trustworthy Czech hairdresser
Treat my inner-6-year-old twice a week (at least)
Do the liver-cleansing diet properly (12 weeks)
Don't eat out for one month
Find a flat and flatmate
Purchase one Joseph sweater
Purchase one of the following pairs of
designer shoes (they MUST also be COMFORTABLE, and be able to be worn with 4
different outfits and 2 types of occasion): Jimmy Choos, Manolo Blahniks,
Christian Louboutin (Ebay or 2nd hand are acceptable)
Send 5 books to the booksphere and track them.
Read 10 'classic' books (from 1001 Books to Read before you Die)
Everything is illuminated
Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintainance
On the Road
Run (non-stop!) for 5kms outside (preferably in a street race thingy)
Send Christmas Cards on time
Make a collage/mural out of street lights on my wall
Buy a bed, build it, and sleep soundly in it
Go to Africa
Host an 'event' (classified as and when)
Organise a 30th Birthday Party
Wear a costume
Sing on stage
Buy a painting that evokes memories of Prague (cannot involve queues!)
Learn a god-damned card game that stays in my memory (other than fish/snap)
See sunrise. Be sober. Have woken for it. Excludes months Nov-Mar
Take a walk and flip coins at each intersection
Draft a will
Take a roadtrip
Go to Italy already
Sea Kayak around Abel Tasman Park (NZ)
Take a train to another Eastern European Destination (accession countries are acceptable) alone preferably.
Get UK to give me a provisional motorcyclists license and simultaneously get a 'card' license.
Go SCUBA diving again - at least two dives lasting 30mins each.
Go to a dentist. *sigh*
Do a Czech Wine Trail. And live to tell the tale
Make an 'outbreak emergency kit'.
Go to bed prior to 11pm every night (inc weekends) for four consecutive weeks.
Marvel over lack of tiredness
Dine at a Gordon Ramsey restaurant (or Nobu)- preferably for free.
Bet on the nags
Do something for charity (applying and getting a 'red card' will count)
Walk along the Champs Elysee
Do 100 sit ups in a row
Do 50 pressups (arms in tight)
Make branston pickle (or nearest substitute)
Cook something 'new' and 'adventurous' at least once a month
Find a mentor
Be a mentor
Learn what mentoring is all about
Meet an online person in real life
Resist the flirt. Once. Just one night. It's okay if people don't immediately succumb to my natural charm. Really it is.
Spend time at a spa (spa towns in the CR don't count)
Send a care package to someone
Get a Tata Bojs CD
Take a French/German/Dutch course and SPEAK THE DAMNED LANGUAGE WHEN I HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY EVEN THOUGH IT MAKES ME SOUND
LIKE AN IDIOT!
Order new contact lenses.
Make a list of things I take with me when I pack for different occasions
Eat lobster. Prepared by someone else.
Back up the blog
Put everything onto an external hard drive
Find a DDR mat and console and 'dance, I say dance!'�
Go to the beach and lie on the warm sand. For an hour. (with sunscreen on, natch)
Take and complete a course in either: Tango, Salsa or Flamenco
Join the Municipal Library of Prague
Move to another country
Go to a live concert of a band I actually like
Pay off debts (student loan excl.)
Send thank you cards for every gift I receive (other than the gift of happiness, blah blah blah).
Get an agent (literary or theatre)
Go to a sports bar without cringing, by personal choice
Ride a rollercoaster
Hold a snake
Spend a day wandering around a museum (not art gallery!)
I’m being pestered to post (and I hate it - not!)
Thursday, 23 November 2006
I have little to say at the moment, due to a severe case of the ‘doldrums’ at having returned to Prague. It’s not because of the city itself, it’s because of the system by which the inhabitants appear to subscribe (but don’t actually, consequently, the system only operates to piss off everyone who tries to operate withIN the system who don’t know the correct people to ensure cooperation OUTside of it). I feel as though I’m in a never ending episode of the Matrix (complete with Morpheus – the full length leather coat which can keep out the cold at a tram stop after ) and there’s no operator to call.
Brazil was amazing. People are friendly (they too, speak little or no English), and will consent to being gesticulated to and mimed at. I even managed to convey the idea that “I need a bus timetable, to show that the buses from the airport don’t run after , for my expense claim for work.” All done with a 15kg pack on my back, I’d add, after an exhausting trip which included a surprise overnight stay in an airport hotel near Charles de Gaulle (the second on the list of most hated airports, following Frankfurt).
I also realised that one of the things I miss in Prague is one that I missed in NZ. Multi-culturalness(ity?). Turn a street in London and you’re faced with the ‘japanese area’. Hell, turn a street in Auckland (even) and you’re in Chowick (admit it, we all call races by different names, therefore we’re all racist to some extent).
Turn a street in Prague and you’re still a ‘foreigner’ amongst an (predominantly) Ayrian race. Blue eyes and white skin gets a bit tiring when it also looks at you with blank incomprehension at why you’re here, to be quickly replaced by suspicion once you tell them you’re working for the state. (lends even more power to my ‘spy’ act previously mentioned).
Turn a street in Brazil (even in Brasilia) and you’re faced with smiley, happy people (okay, so the street cleaners aren’t exactly bursting into song at the drop of a hat, but they do smile at you when you hesitate to cross the area they’re washing, in case they get upset…) who don’t mind your weird Fritalengpanoguese (French, Italian, English, Spanish, Portuguese) that you try to speak (“bon giorno! Donde esta bus station? Le gare? Muchos obrigado!”). They don’t look at you weird when you draw diagrams on your body to demonstrate “Brazilian football strip” and fairly embrace you when you say the magic names “Ronaldinho” or “Ronaldo”.
So what was it like? Well, Brasilia was massive. Organised. One has the impression one is walking around a lego city built by a German child on Ritalin (I imagine) who was forbidden from building model aeroplanes (the city is laid out like one). Things that are currently under construction were designed in the 60’s…so you can say it’s a continuous work in progress. But so organised…this is the place where they plan which trees to put next to which buildings, then decide to build the buildings only to 4 stories high, because when the trees stop growing, they’ll be the same height.
The conference was massive: 500 people (three weasely males: 2 gay, 1 married) doing the same field training as I am supposed to be doing – from all over the world. Am trying to inveigle my way into the next outbreak of Rabies in the Amazon though, they had to use Army helicopters to transport the epidemiologists in (!!!!). People from Africa carefully pointed out which country they came from so that we learnt the difference. Bone structures were different too: the Ghanaians have really round faces, while the Kenyans and Ugandans looked more similar to the ‘typical’ African face shape. They’ve got massive problems with TB and HIV there. I’m just waiting for XDR-TB to wiggle it’s way into the world properly, and then we’re all done for folks. Oooh…fancy if it picked up a few strands of DNA from influenza. Recipe for humanocide.
They gave us a day off on their national holiday, so we had an organised tour (from whence the photos came) and then a gigantic lunch (meat, meat and just when you’re tired of it, a bit more meat: thankfully mostly beef with only one small pork leg waved at us) after which we relaxed in the pool with a friendly (read: death to those who lose!!!) game of water-volleyball. Hilarious fun (till we started losing) which gave us all pinkish shoulders and noses (both at the same time? Reflection, darlings, not just in a mirror).
On the last day of the conference, I was anyone but myself. We had lunch, went to lectures, and then lounged pool-side for the last set of lectures (STD’s, hilarious to hear talks about fisting spoken in accented English by someone trying desperately hard to keep a straight face and praying no one in the audience asks what fisting is, but you know, it was the SUN!!!) before whipping off bikini, replacing it with business casual attire, and being Marten to present his poster on something I know nothing of. People asked some difficult questions, I collected cards and e-mail addresses, and then it was the official closing ceremony where I did the stage thing accepting an award for someone else (Lisa, who won the John Snow award for the best epi-work).
Am quite jealous that she gets to work in an institute where work actually occurs and they seem to be involved in the ‘health of the nation’ instead of somewhere where they collate numbers, re-present them in a national table and call it a ‘good day’s work’. But she deserved the award. She was great. And it gave EPIET a good name too. Accepting on her behalf meant having to explain dozens of times that evening, “no, it’s not for MY talk, it’s Lisa who won…I’m glad you also liked my talk…”. Remind me not to do that again.
And then it was all over. Michelle (an Aussie) and myself headed to Sao Paulo, where we spent two half days looking for decent shoes (me) and markets (us). Sao Paulo is a big, smoggy, ugly, city. But it was interesting to be (temporarily) in a city of 19million inhabitants. Kind of crazy - the bus journey to the airport took almost an hour. It’s not got as good an infrastructure as London (I know!) for so many people (as I understand it) but since we were in the centre, we could be entirely wrong (and probably are). Anyway, if you head to Brazil, skip SP if possible and head to Rio instead. I missed it this time…
I won’t share my homicidal thoughts upon realising my seat mate (for the entire 13hour flight to Paris) was a 4 year old. I think you can probably imagine anyway (she was actually very well behaved, and had a cute button nose!). Nor my exhaustion at arriving home, and finding out that due to the temperature drop, miPod battery meter thinks it has no power, and resets its clock, causing me to get into work late every day this week so far. And since you’ve been extra special good, I’ll omit a verse from a Czech Christmas Carol. Let’s just say that I learnt “kolibati” = rock (as in ‘we will rock you’). And DohaCollegereaders: can you believe we’re doing Dona Nobis for Christmas? Hark back to the days of wandering around the school bursting into various teachers rooms to sing for the class.
P.S. Thank you notes have so much more impact when they’re signed and not merely anonymous, don’t you think?