Brand Ignorance

It’s not until you go to a new country that you realise how much you rely on brand recognition when you go shopping (particularly for food I am finding). Whether this is just a male thing I don’t know, but I find myself looking semi-blankly at a shelf of products and trying to find an equivalent of the product I would buy in Australia (which often simply doesn’t exist) and then being hugely indecisive when I have to decide on a substitute. So instead of a shopping trip taking 10 minutes as you just pick the same things off the shelf that you always pick off the shelf, it takes half an hour as you look at each product and decide if it is going to be an adequate substitute to fill the given required culinary niche, and then you move to the next item on the list and repeat.

Fuzz Therapy

The people I’m staying with have not 1 but 3 cats, and I’m rediscovering what a simple joy it is to have cat hair on all your clothes. They are also great big softie cats, who burst into purrs at the earliest signs of a stroke, and so as you would expect the three of us are getting along just famously. I hope Simone doesn’t start to get jealous…. 🙂

Jetlag

Bloody MF melatonin. It’s totally bizarre sitting down at 5 in the afternoon and having your brain go ”right, by my reckoning it’s 1am, way past your bed time young man” and to then want to go to sleep, and then at 4am have the opposite, with your brain going “allrighty, midday, well and truly time to get up”.

It will presumably sort itself out (and since the universe loves irony, it will probably happen some time 2 or 3 days before I leave to go back to Australia. I can imagine that the first few days of trainee internship when I get back to Brisbane could be interesting as a result).

Continued Bigness

So it’s not only the plane that was big, both of the hospitals I’ve been to are huge, and the medical school is enormous (with something like 1500 medical students). The city has some 8 million or so residents and a motor way system to match (which is also unbelievably complex if you’re completely new to it and have to get across town using it).

Fluffy

As we approached Johannesburg we descended through what I think were the fluffiest clouds I’ve ever seen from the air. It was a terrible pity I couldn’t get to my camera, as they would have made a great photo.

Movie madness

With 14 hours to kill what else do you do but watch movies. Back to back. Four of them….

  • Charlie and the chocolate factory
  • Batman begins
  • Mr and Mrs smith
  • Madagascar

My eyes aren’t so much square as that slightly rectangular shape of the little screens on the back of the airline seats.

Big? Actually, jumbo!

Today is going to be my first trip on a 747. Ever since I was a child I have I think subconsciously held the belief that it wasn’t really International travel unless it took a 747 to get you there. So between the jumbo jet, the 14 hour flight, and the fact that I’m on an entirely different continent makes me fairly sure this fit’s the bill for real international travel.

Absurdistan

As an initial side note, Absurdistan is also the title of a book that Catherine showed me the other day.

This evening I arrived at the airport an hour before I needed to be there to discover that there were probably 300 people in line waiting to check in, and 4 people at the counters doing the checking in. It was rediculous. And then at regular intervals they would announce over the PA system that all passengers for whichever flight was closest to departing should proceed to the front of the line and the counters would process those people and stop checking in anyone else.

As one of my associates in the queue observed, you can see how the airlines are making huge profits by reducing costs (eg. of check-in staff), but it’s hard to deny that service has gone out the window when you wait an hour and a quarter patiently in line, only to have your flight finally called to the front of the line anyway. It would have made far more sense to simply have gone and gotten some take away coffee and a paper and found a seat near the check-in for the hour, and just pottered up to the front when your flight got called. It was frankly rediculous.