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BY J E SOLOMON
A COUPLE of incidents in late December disrupted my initial New Year plans and I found myself without a single post for this blog in January this year. Then early in the month, I had the worst flu attack in my adult life despite getting the flu shot less than a month before.
I called it the mother of all colds. A friend described it as a “Tsunami of a cold”. It really was like a storm. Aside from the incessant sneezing, bodily aches and the nightly coughs, I lost my voice and also had blisters that made wiping off my runny nose very uncomfortable.
There was a planned visit to London that would have been too painful to cancel. I was preoccupied with preparations and the search for cheap tickets. Anxiety was welling up within me and I couldn’t wait to see childhood friends and adorable relatives whom I hadn’t seen for many years.
Meanwhile, my imaginations were running wild with mental images of what the Queen’s city looked like. The city whose name produced the lyrics we sang in kindergarten and primary school –
London’s burning, London’s burning. ……..Fire fire, Fire fire, Pour on water, pour on water
With barely two weeks to the departure date, the cold didn’t seem like it would be gone sooner. And as could be expected, or perhaps being that I’m inclined to be nice, I shared the cold generously with my significant other before deciding to see the doctor to ensure speedy recovery.
Luckily we both made it to London in excellent condition, no more sneezing and coughing. Oh my God! “Is this London?” I couldn’t believe it. The streets look too small compared to the streets we have in the US. Surprisingly vehicles are allowed to park on both sides of the street, thus leaving opposing motorists to maneuver their way through the middle. I was amused.
Not only were the streets too small in my estimation, the hallways in apartments visited also were small. And the elevators (the lifts) were similarly small. I wondered whether an EMS stretcher and a team of three paramedics could use the elevator in the event of an emergency. Maybe they use smaller emergency beds, too.
Besides everything being small in London, the people are healthy-looking, I mean in terms of obesity. In all of the places we were at, on buses, trains, the malls, etc, etc, I never saw anyone I could describe as obese (fat). This is in sharp contrast to what one would see in America, where a lot more people are too wide around the waist line. No wonder Londoners have low death rates from ischemic heart disease and stroke. According to latest studies, more than one-third of adults and one-sixth of children in America are obese.
I almost forgot there are things about London that are significantly “obese” – prices of commodities. They’re way too expensive compared to prices in America. I now understand why Londoners shop like crazy when they cross over the Atlantic Ocean into the US. They’ll come with one bag and return with three.
The one week stay was just not enough to savor all the sweetness of the moment. Our hosts were very nice, and the warmth and excitement of reunion with childhood friends and relatives I hadn’t seen for many, many years are memories that will stay in my mind forever. If we ever get the chance to host them in the US, we shall “retaliate” their generosity and show of affection (oops, I mean to say reciprocate)