I took a trip to hospital last week to see the doctor about a very sore throat, the hospital being the only place on campus we can see a doctor rather than an indication of severity of affliction. Mind you one week later and I’m still so bunged up I can’t hear properly and every morning is a coughfest. I feel a pollution rant coming on; suffice to say that while I’ve had lingering colds in the UK, there’s been nothing like the persistent feeling of congestion I have experienced here and I’d be willing to bet that’s because my lungs aren’t getting any fresh air to clean out all the gunk.
The upside of last week’s visit was that it was timed perfectly to coincide with the flowering of the peony beds by the lake. At 9:15 on a Saturday morning there were already numerous families out admiring the flowers and an impressive collection of photographic equipment at hand to record the moment. I didn’t know peonies have such a sweet fragrance, which must have been quite strong if I was able to appreciate it. I was also fortunate enough to catch dance practice in the lake pavilion: on one side a group of women went through a traditional routine while on the other couples were waltzing to the same Beijing opera aria, conveniently in three time.
My hospital visit reminded me a bit of the only hospital trip I made in New York a few years back: multiple checkings in and payings of account along the way until you were ejected at the other end clutching several boxes of pills. Here I had to pay my 40p consultation fee, have a chat with the doctor in a room with three other consultants and their patients (good job it wasn’t anything embarrassing), go out to the girl in the hospital entrance to check my temperature (yes, she really did mean stick the thermometer in my armpit), back to doctor, over to cashier again for medicine fee (£7.50), over to dispensary for pills and then, in my case, back to doctor for clarification on dosage.
The other upside beyond peony and culture appreciation has been the addition of a new realm to my vocabulary. I now know a few more ways to say “dose” in Chinese than I thought possible – the language is quite specific about the difference between a pill, a round pill, a pellet and a tablet, but then I suppose I’ve just illustrated that English can be too. My favourite however has been 鼻涕虫 or “snot bug”. In my current state this could easily refer to me but it is in fact the colloquial term for a slug. I love that Mandarin says it like it is.