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Wreck Dive

We dove on a wreck. A large ship had sunk and was now a hot spot to dive and explore. It’s not my cup of tea. There’s nothing picturesque or too much interesting. And the scale is too large to get a clear shot of the whole wreck. The twisted metal covered in coral is not bursting with image opportunities. Color balance is awful. Hey? Am I complaining too much? A day diving is a day better then work. Right? The back end has the propeller. Duh? One propeller and a very large rudder. Really, it was a large ship propelled by a single rudder and prop. How large? Well, I got a diver swimming through. That is what gives you some comparative scale. We did not go inside. That’s dangerous. If you are trapped inside,  you are toast. This was for fun, not for danger. So it was fine to get an overview. Been there, I probably won’t elect to do it again.


Fortune Cookie

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It reminds me of… This was serendipity. As in, I was trying to get something and this is what happened when I closed my eyes and pressed the shutter. All of the sudden my skills went south. I was having trouble focusing. It happens. I got anxious. Imagine? It’s just me. What’s to be anxious about? Anyway, for a while I could not focus on any of the giant clams. Maybe they were having a laugh on me? But then, I did come away with some good shots. I’m used to most shots being pretty good. Nope. I had a lot of out of focus shots. But whoa! Look at this! It’s striking. Painterly. I am proud of this shot. And you would never get me to admit that this was completely fortuitous. I just closed my eyes, pressed the shutter, and hoped for the best. Yup, uh huh.


Bite me! – It bit me!

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I was attacked. I’ve shown you an encounter in a previous post. I was roughly in the same area photographing a couple subjects. This guy (I’m not sure he’s the same as the other) started attacking my close up lens. Ok! Get a picture. I did. Then he came back again and again. He attacked my goggles.

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Finally, he took a nip of me. (yes, look close, he left a red mark). Ouch! I did not notice any source for the attack. There were no eggs or juvenile fish around. I was surprised and promptly beat off his attack with my dive stick. Yes a sword fight under the sea. Jules wrote to tell me that they are territorial. All this time, I have seen this species often and no one ever attacked me. Yes, I was sure surprised!

 


Not PC today

This is emotional for me. My brother and mom have both passed away from lung cancer. Let’s knock on wood now please. Silva’s dad had been diagnosed with lung cancer shortly after I knew her. She smoked and quit and started again and ….? Her brothers smoked/smoke. No one stopped after dad was diagnosed. Farid shook his head. He doesn’t smoke. But smoking was a deal breaker when he met Silva. So she quit…We visited a prominent religious statue high on a hill in Beirut. There was a long picturesque funicular ride to the top. Silva was there to pray for her father. Lung cancer is fatal so we know how this ends. Hope. It’s in us all. We never give it up. The alternative is too painful to contemplate. It’s surprising to me. Most physicians do not experience death too often. Patients die. But it is not something that dominates a medical practice. Emergency physicians, of course, see plenty. And in a sad way I do too. Head injury, stroke, aneurysm, and brain tumors all take a toll. It’s very difficult to talk about death and dying. No one dies. We save everyone. And the public thinks we perform miracles every day. See? It’s on the news. But in real life reality, we pray. We hope. And we accept that life is fragile.


Luxury Shopping

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I love this shot! Every once in a while the shot is good and the story is second place. Isn’t this a great graphical image. Night shot! This was near to impossible before digital. Now it’s easy. High fashion shoes and abayas don’t seem to be congruent. What does one wear out? And what goes with an abaya? Folks mostly wear sneakers or sandals. Sandals are great because it’s so damn hot. Sneakers are hot.

Oh! Another aside. “Oud or agarwood is one of the most popular scents on the market today. Oud is said to be the most expensive wood in the world; oud oil’s value is estimated to be 1.5 times the value of gold, and it is sometimes referred to as ‘liquid gold’.” My nurse told me about this scent. Everyone smells to high heaven. What with the “built in sauna” wearing an abaya, you do need a lot of scent.

High fashion shoes under an abaya? Pearls before swine? Sorry. No pork here. But you get my drift? Which reminds me… one of our nurses was stopped from entering with marzipan. She had brought it in and it contains like .001% alcohol! The Saudi customs officer stopped her triumphantly! She refused to give up her stuff. She argued and cried. Her husband left her. He was standing next to her with a block of Serrano ham in his bag…

So? What shoes do you wear under an abaya? Anything you like I’d guess. Incongruent? It’s not like you are solving a geometry theorem.


Baa – Language

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What lamb in Arabic? If you don’t know it will not help you to sat baa. Ogden Nash wrote about the language of dogs. They bark differently in different countries. Woof is not universal. French dogs do not necessarily “bow wow.”

When I arrived in Jeddah I could not speak Arabic. And I still cannot. Thankfully all the Filipino waiters speak English. We tried a Malaysian restaurant the other night. Tried. Failed. The staff looked vaguely oriental which meant to me that they were likely Filipino. Nope. My nurses were embarrassed. They could not speak with or get a translation for the menu. We were stuck in a place with cuisine I was not familiar and with no one to guide us. We went to an Indian place instead. My nurses have never eaten Indian food. Imagine? I ordered us up some good vittles. Mmmm….

This picture? I was in the mall. I saw someone eating. It was a stew that was eaten with fresh made flat bread. I went to order up some too. And the Arabic speaker behind the counter was mystified. We could not speak. At all. I pointed. He shrugged He asked in Arabic. I pointed. I said baa. I said moo. He smiled and shrugged again. I got beef. They don’t serve pork. And I never clucked.

Now? I get on the phone to my assistant. I tell him and he speaks on my behalf. A lot of hospital staff have asked me for help and I use this method to be sure I am understanding the problem. No, I did not learn enough Arabic to be conversant. Yes, I am shameful. I still eat well. And mostly Filipinos wait on me. I am not learning a new language but I have adapted. Bow wow.


Side By Side

When I visited Beirut the civil war was done and the center of the city rebuilt. It was clean and shiny new. It was pedestrian friendly. I walked about and took in the sights. Mosque and Church could be seen side by side. Outwardly there is no war. Sunny days prevail. Beneath the surface lingers all the old animosities. The government is dysfunctional. Religion, politics, and ethnicity all lurk as intractable barriers. You can’t see it in the pictures. Some days I wish there really was a reset button.


Dinner

There is a style here. Dinner. It’s traditional. Which is to say that after the first several times I attended, it has a recognizable pattern. This typical dinner in my compound was attended by men. Females, even physician colleagues are not invited. A lamb is prepared – grilled – and then served over rice. Picking at the meat with your bare fingers to get to the succulent parts is an accepted norm. Eating with your fingers is common. Forks are provided. No knives. The usual dessert is a sweet semolina cake that has cream or mozzarella cheese in between the layers. In Mexico it’s called arepa. My friend Nasser – we call him Kideida – dressed in traditional formal garb in celebration of the occasion.  I wore my golf shirt. Ha! I don’t golf.


Dinner Out

I attended a welcome dinner. Two physicians joined our department. I live modestly in hospital housing. This was an opportunity to see how the other half lives. It’s a separation of sexes. No females were in attendance. Someone brought their son. Otherwise it was a banquet of males. Lamb is roasted on a skewer. Standard fare. The sides included lots of rice, salad, and fruit, followed by dessert. Afterward our host played traditional music accompanied by his son. From the outside, the walls are high and drab. Inside, the accommodations are quite the opposite. Elaborate and ornate, it reflected a long life of collecting the trappings of wealth and success. Me? I’m living in two suitcases, ready to go if it’s imperative. The bulk of it will be my dive gear. I’m of the opinion that you can’t take it with you…but…. you can sure store it somewhere else. To be fair, I’ve got a lot of junk sitting around somewhere else… Please don’t laugh too hard.


Sometimes When We Touch

It’s a song title. I’ve been hoping that Lulu and Casi will be friends. Lulu was all fur flying and hissing when Casi walked through the door. Jealousy?! I think so. I was Lulu’s human. And she was not sharing. At this point they coexist. The share space. They have divided me up. One or the other will hang near me. At night one sleeps close by to my right, the other to my left. Yes, they sleep on the bed. It happens after a while… Casi prefers to sleep under the covers. She feels safer.

There are encounters. And even some playful cuffing goes on. I do not think I will ever get a portrait of the two of them together sharing in any gossip. I belong to them. They share. But they are not happy about it. I will therefore stop short of discussing the Muslim belief here that you can have up to four wives. Did you know? They rotate. The first wife goes in order to make room for the fifth. That is how they get around the limit. Cats! I’m still waiting for them to be smiling in the same image together.