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Showing posts from February, 2007

Another world

It is Monday morning, early. I have been driving for 3 hours and have entered a different world from that I inhabited when I awoke. I am following the motorway from Durban northwards up the coast. Buildings, shopping malls, casinos and rush hour traffic have given way to rolling green hills peppered with small settlements and round, thatched huts. To my right, when gaps in the hills allow I catch intermittent, tantalising glimpses of the Indian ocean sparkling on the horizon. Soon the hills give way to vast Eucalyptus tree plantations which line the road for mile after mile. The motorway drops from 3, to 2, to 1 lane and finally a sign admits that it has now become merely a road. I turn off the air-con and open the window – the air is dry and hot, at least 30 degrees. It feels good.The frequency of huts and informal settlements increases rapidly and I know I must be approaching my turnoff. Sitting somewhat incongruously among them is an upmarket hotel. A sign advertises the room price…


As I push my trolley through Johannesburg airport customs the duty official calls me over. He gives my bags a cursory poke.“So what are you doing in South Africa?” he asks, looking over my shoulder at the crowds behind.“I’m coming to work here.” He looks at me for the first time, interested.“What are you doing?”“I am a doctor. I’m going to work in a hospital in rural KwaZulu-Natal.” His attitude changes completely.“Hey, we need you.” He breaks into a broad grin. “Thank you for coming. We need you. You take good care of those people. You look after those people up there.” He offers his hand, bags forgotten, and we perform the classic handshake widespread among, particularly, black South Africans: Western-style grip, shifting to a arm-wrestle style grasp, returning to standard grip. “Have a great time!”A timely shot of encouragement. The hours of conversation with the pleasant white South African lady I sat next to on the plane had been a little demoralising. Returning from a reconnoitr…

Ed is moving

I will be working for a year at Hlabisa Hospital in KwaZulu-Natal. Come back in a couple of weeks if you would care to - something will have happened.