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Posts Tagged ‘roommates’

We didn’t get off to a good start, as they hadn’t warned me I would be having a roommate.

There I was airing my not-so-lovely legs, staring at the telly between the parted curtains around my bed, when the curtains began to sway and a middle-aged man and woman squeezed by, stealing glances as they passed.

“Privacy! Privacy!” I yelled, pointing at the curtains, which they shut in hurried confusion.

It wasn’t until later that night when we found ourselves both watching the same program on our respective tellies, that I was able to convince Sandy, my new roommate in Room 827 at Singapore’s Gleneagle Hospital, that I wasn’t mad after all.

Sandy was South African, now living in West Papua with her husband, Dave, and was a frequent visitor to Singapore for shopping, or in this case, surgery.

We eventually turned the tellies down, and did what all expat women do within five minutes of meeting – exchanged life stories.

“Yar, Yar,” Sandy says, when we agree that only expat wives understand the effort it takes to move countries.

She tells me about a world where going home means catching a 30-seater helicopter to the top of a mountain, where she lunches and plays cards with the other ibu, or expat wives, and where in going about your daily business you risk being shot at. It makes ducking and weaving between the drunks in Richmond sound quite ho-hum.

Apart from being expat wives, Sandy and I have another thing in common: jewellery.  She loves black diamonds and I love pink ones, or any diamonds, really.

She tells me about the jewellery she bought at Far East Plaza in Orchard Rd, and about Pagoda St in Chinatown and life in Zim (Zimbabwe) and West Papua, and suddenly the high school geography map in my head comes to life.

I miss Sandy, especially as I now have a new roommate. She arrived at 10pm last night with her husband, which I found surprising as patients in Australia are usually admitted in the morning, and alone.

“Was it an emergency?” I ask the nurse.

“No, she is having a biopsy for a lump in her breast,” the nurse whispers.

Roommate No 2 has a long shower and then asks the nurses about the rules about eating and drinking before an operation.

“No  drinking after midnight,” they reply firmly – so she eats and drinks heartily and watches telly on full blast with the light on until midnight, where upon, after two hours of staring at the bright white fluorescent light on the ceiling and watching the flickering of the screen through the thin yellow curtain, I call the nurse.

“If she doesn’t turn off the telly and light I am going to climb over the curtain and remove that breast lump myself,” I hiss.

The poor nurse blinks with shock. “We Australians are outspoken,” I say, by way of explanation.

I guess this is why they gave me a sleeping pill and taped the curtains shut – having failed to convince Roommate No. 2 to stop partying and go to bed.

So you must forgive me, dear reader, when I admit to smiling when I heard Roommate No 2 throwing up violently the next day after her operation.

Luckily, by then I was IV free and was able to escape the sound of puking and groaning and waddle around the corridors in preparation for my escape the following day.

I am now writing this from bedquarters, having put in my ear phones and sprayed the room with perfume.

PS: There are some benefits to being kept awake until 5am by a flickering and muttering television. It gives one plenty of time to plot one’s revenge.

On her second night, at 4.17 am precisely, Roommate No.2, declined my pleas and that of the nurses to turn off the telly and go to sleep. “I can’t sleep,” she explained. And no wonder. Between throwing up, she kept asking for food.

So – and please don’t be shocked, dear reader –  I waited until she was purring gently at 6am, whereupon I turned my iphone to Man of La Mancha, beautifully sung by Linda Eder, and which begins with a terrifying trumpet solo, and which I thought Roommate No.2 might enjoy.

She enjoyed it at least 30 times for the next hour.

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