Fight or Flight

Today I was given time to work on my lectures. I was given some feedback at our initial meeting, so had opportunity to make some changes before I start lecturing to my first group of 26 doctors on Thursday. Occupational Therapy is kind of new here and they are training doctors and rehab assistants in OT techniques. I will be working with groups of both. The first actual OT program is currently running at a local university. They were going to purchase curriculum from Australia, but it was too expensive, so they purchased the content from India which is… interesting/scary based on my observations when I volunteered there in 2015.

I found a cool coffee shop and worked there all morning. It is the first of it’s kind that was built to encourage people to stay and work. Stayed so long I had to buy lunch. As the stylish, professional business crowd moved in at lunch I became rather self-conscious of my lulu lemon shorts and t-shirt I got from the bargain bin at American Eagle while my son was shopping. I watched a well-dressed young woman watch me with fascination as I worked my chopsticks. Of course, being observed made that darn piece of celery slip multiple times.

During my travels today I was remembering that I had forgotten the leap of faith it takes to cross a street in Asia. They come at you in every direction and if they feel like it, they drive on the sidewalk. I’ve seen motorcycles drive the wrong way down a 1-way street, drive on pedestrian roads and my personal favourite – if a red light interferes and your next move is to turn the corner, but you are many rows back from the lights, you simply hop the curb, bypass the line and drive around the corner on the sidewalk. I was talking to a lady today and telling her that teens in Ontario walk around with ear buds listening to music – she was shocked. She said that just wouldn’t be safe here and you need your ears going in every direction just to stay alive.

So, one is never totally safe. I find myself jealous of little children who are able to hold onto a big person’s hand when crossing the street. Today I was at a pedestrian crossing and the light turned green, but there was no red for the cars/motorcycles and they kept coming. I couldn’t figure out how that was helpful. At particularly busy spots, there seems to be communal knowledge that we move as a posse. Now every mother says they have eyes in the back of their head. I don’t. Wish I did. Would sure help keep the blood pressure and heart rate down when out for a “stroll” that feels to me more like my “fight or flight” response on overdrive.

The other night I had been working “minimally clothed” and realized I was hungry. I threw on my skort, left the hotel and was trying to find the “Secret House” restaurant. Was doing ok until I hit construction and theoretically I was supposed to walk right through it. I had to go back and forth across the street trying to find a route for pedestrians – it was so stressful (gave me a new appreciation for PTSD as I jumped whenever I heard an engine or a horn… continuously). Anyway, by the time I found the restaurant in a quiet alley – I was sweaty, flustered and my heart was pumping. Went to put my map in my pocket to learn that my skort was on backwards. No wonder I was so uncomfortable! Men may need to ask a nearby woman why. Had to go to the restroom to “re-dress” before I could eat. Route home was much better as I knew the way and had my skort facing forward!


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  1. Leslie, Thanks for your updates, they always leave me laughing. Your adventures are like a sitcom! Hope all goes well.

  2. Hi I bet that you have considered it but could you not have the material for a book or perhaps a series of articles.
    Cheers Dad

  3. I love reading about your adventures!!

  4. I bet you wish you had brought your bike helmet for the street walks. Any head protection would be helpful. Reading your description, I can’t believe that they haven’t needed OTs to help with head injured patients sooner!

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