Thursday, May 18, 2006

Medical Care

I was at a business lunch yesterday when, after the formalities were exchanged, my host began to regale me with medical horror stories from her many years in Shanghai. This isn't the first such conversation I've had, but still I listened in fascination to more tales of woe, including that of a woman who had to fly to Hong Kong with a broken arm to get it properly set and mended.

Shanghai is hardly a backwards city. But in a major international destination where one can readily find all manner of sophisticated pleasures, people that are well familiar with selvage and saltimbocca still look blank at sterile.

The "international" hospitals differ from the local only in that they speak English, allowing them to explain to you clearly that there is nothing wrong with you, and why don't you just go home? Dev's experience with dirty instruments, incompetence, and general neglect left him in such a rage he pounded the reception wall with his fist - a risky move, lest we be on the next plane to Hong Kong ourselves.

Now I'm suffering from a similar throat-ear ailment, but I dread going back to deal with the doctors again. Luckily, I have alternate means at my disposal - the seamy underside of the city reveals an illicit trade in harmless prescription drugs. Whoever thought I'd be sipping champagne at a party while someone slips me a folded piece of paper with the words, "Here's the number of my amoxicillin guy."