Monday, July 18, 2011

A quick check-in

I'm very touched that I've been nagged by a few of you as to why I haven't posted recently. After all, I've been officially unemployed since the 1st of July! It's been an embarrassment of riches as far as time is concerned, certainly. Four years of registrar time... over, just like that. And I haven't even managed to do the unemployment thing properly. I've already done four locums in the past two weeks, when I could have given myself permission to just sit and watch TV like I've been promising myself for the past four years!

I've now realised that my registrar training time was in fact the longest job I've ever had, and as hard and frustrating it could be at times it was actually an enjoyable ride. Most importantly, being on the other side, I realise how lucky I was to have trained at an excellent institution. Change is always scary, and it's hard saying goodbye to the menagerie of people you meet working in a large hospital. Some of these have become more than acquaintances - there are close friends and one or two soulmates I've met.

But no need for cueing "The Way We Were" and vaseline on the lens. I'm staying in Cape Town. While there are no government consultant posts available, I'm keeping an eye out and opportunities look good towards the end of the year. It would be ideal to take up a junior consultant rotation for two years, rotating through the more demanding disciplines, a sort of anaesthesia finishing school if you like.

For the moment, though, I have to make my way in private. Medical professionals are rather saturated in the city, although there is a nationwide drought of specialists. But my wife and I have our house here and we love this city. I've swallowed my pride and put feelers out - and, surprise, surprise, there IS work. Slowly but surely I've gotten over my initial freak-out at entering a self-employed phase of my life, essentially pimping my trade to available surgeons... in private, anaesthesia and prostitution have many similarities - you have to make yourself as attractive to customers as possible and you charge an hourly rate!

That's on the back-burner though.

In just three days the wife and  I head for... Thailand!! We've been wanting to go since before "The Beach" made it uber cool. But whatever. We'll take it as it comes to us - we're immersing ourselves in Bangkok first and going tourist mad for two days doing all the tours and temple hopping and market shopping, then flying down to Krabi and hiring a car to wind our way down to Koh Lanta where we will be doing sweet nothing but looking at the beach, sky and ocean, and if it rains (it is the rainy season now) we will lie around in feigned ennui and read until our brains are soggy.

Then off to Phi Phi to hopefully experience its heartbreaking beauty for ourselves; I'm casting aside all pretenses and expectations and have quietly exorcised Alex Garland's "The Beach" temporarily.

We'll end off in Chiang Mai which just looks so amazing and lush and laid back compared to the throb of Bangkok.

I guess I fell in love with Thailand a long time ago - from the first Siamese cat I ever saw, that horribly cheesy opening song to "Chess", the first green curry I ate, the ektachrome slides of my aunt and uncle on Phuket in the 70s when the island was a green swathe of palm trees and only a few primitive beach huts dotting the coast.

We'll be hard pressed to find something similar. But I'm not at an age where I do want to do the sweaty back-pack shoestring thing. Apart from the city hops (where we have at least found some charming boutique hotels) the island days are to be my first concerted attempt at the art of slow travel. And I'm avoiding the high rise sprawl of Phuket as much as possible, though we will spend a day there driving up to the airport to catch our flight to Chiang Mai.

I can't wait to get out of Krabi Airport, fetch the car, and drive down the green Andaman coast to our little hideout on Koh Lanta and know: "we've come away :)"

Here's to reconnecting with ourselves, the universe and each other. I'll see you guys on the other side, hopefully a relaxed dude with sunshine in his eyes and sand in his brain. I mean, more than usual.

peace