Photo by Shahram Sharif
So it’s been freezing lately, with night temperatures dipping to 23 degrees celcius. And the constant heavy rain, says CNA (I’ve been on their case quite often lately) this is the fault of La Nina, which is some Hokkien swear word, which is appropriate cos I’ve been drenched a couple of times this week, and it’s a bitch taking the dog out to do his business.
The full Hokkien term for this weather phenomenon is, “Wah lan eh, Lor Hor ah! La Nina Lah!”
At the Jerry Tan Eye Surgery and Gleneagles Hospital, where my father underwent cataract surgery this week, they haven’t turned off the air con from their usual Indoor Singapore setting, which is benchmarked against the Arctic setting at Changi Airport. It was so cold that stethoscopes looked more sinister than usual.
The only people who didn’t seem disturbed by the unseasonal cold weather were the Indonesians at the clinic and hospital. They continued talking as gutterally and loudly. Or maybe it was because there were a lot of them. When you close your eyes they sound like a stampede of turkeys. Which must have been scary to my Dad because he had eye surgery and couldn’t see for a few hours.
Actually, there were a lot of them. So many Indonesians that the hospital staff spent most of the time speaking in Indonesian, and when it came to our turn to be asked to fill up forms and pay deposits, we were spoken to in Indonesian first, then Mandarin, then English, when it was finally clear we weren’t fluent in the first two.
Then I remembered why there might be so many Indonesians in a private hospital in Singapore.
Last week, a platoon mate told me he was having a difficult time with his job posting in Jakarta. Having a young family to look after was the stumbling block, he said. It would have been alright if he were single. But Jakarta’s not the place for families, he said.
The healthcare sucked. His young daughter ran a temperature a few months ago and he rushed her to the hospital where the late former president Suharto was a patient. And it took only a few hours before he realised that even if Suharto weren’t at first ailing, the chances of him becoming the late former president were very high at that hospital.
He said that the attending doctor shoved his 18 month old daughter around like a piece of meat, oblivious to her wailing, and while taking her temperature, held her head down against the table as if to restrain a difficult patient, then said, ‘she got fever, now go outside and wait for medicine’.
I dunno. Maybe the Indonesians just like our air-con.