Monday, July 18, 2005

On the Potomac

Spent the day paddling the Potomac with a few of the other fellows. It wasnt easy pulling myself out of bed after staying out until 3 AM, but the day was well worth it. Five of us rented kayaks and managed to circumnavagate Roosvelt Island. We saw the Watergate hotel, the Washington monument, and the Lincoln memorial. Despite the threat of rain, the weather was sunny and warm. So sunny that my arms are now bright red. We stopped on the banks of Virginia, ate our lunch (which was really breakfast stolen from the hotel buffet) and tossed the frisbee. I climbed a tree and fell asleep. Good day.

Its late and I am just now figuring all this out. Will have to go back and post on the previous two weeks. So much has happened, but so much more is yet to come.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

To throw the Furbeesbe in DC

Nerd camp doenst meet on Saturdays, so we were free to explore the greater DC area. I left Saturday morning with a mix of US and foreign medical students. Paul, Craig Connard, padmanesan narasimhan, and myself. Paul was a 3rd year at U. of Washington, headed to Tanzania. Craig also a 3rd year from Tulane, headed to Mali. I'll let you guess which one was the recent medical graduate from India. We were to meet Furahah, a young physician from Tanzania at the metro stop. While we waited, we pined for a frisbee to throw in the sun. We knew Furahah was on his way, so we called his room to tell him to pick up the frisbee from a friend at our hotel.

I must have forgotten about the large sea of cultural differences that exist between America and East Africa. I quickly discovered that Furahah had absolutely no idea what the hell a frisbee was. He couldn't really even say it. He kept saying "A feersbee?, what is this thing? a firenzbee?" I tried to explain, confident that my simple description would solve the matter. But, how do you describe a frisbee to someone who has never seen one before? "Uh, its like a plastic plate, but you throw it." I think that confused him even more. However, the loyal friend that he was, he showed up at our friend Eric's door asking for the plastic-plate that we were going to throw at each other. Eric had no idea what he was talking about. After a few more phone calls, Furahah came marching down the street with the frisbee, and we were off.

Once the furessbuisness was resolved, we loaded onto the subway and head to the Washington Mall. Keep in mind that, in attendance were: the Tanzanian, the Indian (not the pipe-smoking, feather wearing type), and three med students about to leave the comforts of America for odd places like Durban, Bamako, and Dar Es Salaam.

We hit all the typical spots on the Washington mall: the white house, the Washington monument, the Lincoln memorial. Then, we broke out the ferzubee. We had gone to all the trouble to bring it, we might as well use it. The foreigners had a little trouble at first. Most of their throws curved wildly away from their intended direction. We had to apologize several times to the nearby kickball game that was going on next to us (which, by the way, seems to be the new cool thing to do in DC. Actually looks kind of fun, too bad the trend will likely be dead by the time I come back to the states). But after a brief frisbee tutorial, Padma and Furaha were throwing the disc like champs. It was a sunny but cool day on the lawn, perfect for throwing the disc with your international ultimate Frisbee team.

After several hours walking around our nation’s capital, we headed back down to the subway. We were exhausted but satisfied with our day. However, as if by telepathy, the three Americans simultaneously noticed the large Hooter’s advertisement that stood before us. How could we ignore the airbrushed face and bleached blonde hair of the stereotypical Hooter’s girl? She was practically begging us to corrupt our new friends with pitchers of Sam Adams and extra spicy wings. A brief American forum was held, and 10 minutes later, we were inside Hooter’s.

We had to somehow explain exactly what Hooter’s was, and attempt to clarify its awkward, perhaps tacky place in American culture. I think they understood that it fit in somewhere between Kentucky Fried Chicken and an all nude strip club. I think the pictures speak for themselves.

After dinner, the day wore on into the evening. I met a good friend for Sushi, and then met the guys again in Adam’s Morgan. Padma and Furaha retired for the evening, and we were once again merely a big group of Americans out in DC. But that didn’t seem to slow us down at all. We drank Mojitos and danced the Rumba until 3 AM. We barely caught the last metro back to Bethesda. Underground, drunk college kids were rampant in the subway station. I saw a girl fall down and ascend the escalator upside down. One poor guy had thrown up all over his pants and was being dragged out of the station by his friends. Really though, I think the only difference between us and them, was that we weren’t in college anymore. Oh, and the vomitus, that too I suppose.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Dinner in Georgetown

I dragged my new friend Eric all the way to Georgetown to hangout with one of my old friends, Brent. Eric is here with me at nerd camp in DC. He's an MD-PhD from Tufts who will soon depart for Bangladesh to study cholera for a year. Despite what you might think, he is not quite the geeky scientist you would expect. However, his toes are green and he kind of looks like an ewok. Brent is an old friend from college who I spent a year working and living with in South Africa, Tanzania, and Guatemala. Brent decided medical school wasnt hard enough, so he is now cramming in a law degree much the same way Eric is cramming in a PhD on Vibrio cholerae. Brent brough also brought along a friend from UVA law school.

Here is a flashback dialogue that best describes the year spent with Brent:
Picture the two of us in our very plain missionary house in Mvumi, Tanzania. We are two of 6 people who speak English in a village of 10,000. We are eating rice and beans for the 83rd straight meal together. I have heard all of Brent's stories at this point, and he has heard all of mine.

Me: Good rice, huh?
Brent: Yeah, less rocks than usual.
Me: So, what story should I re-tell you?
Brent: How about the one where you fell of a roof in New York and almost died.
Me: Again? Ok, so I was wasted one evening in Manhattan when we got locked out of Ben's house...


This time, there was a lot more to talk about. Brent had been back to our clinic in Guatemala several times ( and I was headed back to the same city we first worked in over 4 years prior. But more than anything, I felt very humbled to be sitting at a table with a law student, an MD-PhD, and a wierd medical-law student hybrid. We had a great conversation that ranged from the war in Iraq to vigilante groups in Guatemala to crazy ex-girlfriends. I couldnt help but wonder what each of them would be doing in 10 years. Now that I mention it, I wouldnt mind knowing what I will be doing in 10 years either.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Washington Nationals Game

After our first day of orientation to the orientation, some of the guys decided to take the metro to a Washington Nats game. We did the only really exciting thing there is to do in $7 nosebleed seats: drink beer, eat hotdogs, and watch people. The first two were just as I had remembered. The beers were overpriced, the hotdogs tasted like savory racoon meat. But in the people watching, something had changed: I think I am now a lot older. I noticed large clumps of high school kids that looked like they had just received their driver's lisence. Sure, many of them were attractive, even the guys appeared meticulously groomed. But there was something different going on here. Many of these kids seemed to suffer from a tragic case of popped-coller disease. As a Texan in his mid twenties, I was unfamiliar with this disorder as it seems to occur only in the Northeast. At first glance, I was certain that a rogue breeze had raised the collars of a cluster of teenagers. But no, this was a trend that has apparently occured without my knowledge. Perhaps it passed you by as well. I was even more disturbed to notice that some of the collars looked ironed. We considered telling one of them, just as one would do if they noticed an open fly. But the more we laughed about it, the more we realized that we had become a little older, and a little more distanced from youth. It wasnt a bad or depressing thing. In fact, I am glad we realized it. If nothing else, it provided us with entertainment at a baseball game where we could barely see the players.

Anyway, our international nerd brigade had a great time at the game. Probably the last baseball game I will attend in a very long time, perhaps in over a year. Its been really great to go out and get to know other medical students who are about to take off for a year. Kind of takes some of the stress out of my upcoming time in South Africa.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

I think I am a little confused here. This was when I first started.

Soy yo!