2014 has seen a relatively eventful start for our family with two events that could be described as emergencies overshadowing the first two weeks of the year.
In fact it all started a few hours before the New Year began when Dan ventured into the garden to get rid of rubbish and kind of got in a fight with a tree, a tree he didn’t see as it was pitch black. The tree won and inflicted one scratched pupil. Unable to see out of the eye he didn’t even make it to midnight before he gave up and went to bed. New Year’s Day involved a visit to A&E instead of the planned trip to the football.
Thankfully the eye was fully healed by the weekend – eyes do fix themselves very quickly, although it did make work on assignments due for college quite difficult for that week. He was awarded extensions to enable him to complete them successfully. Then just as he was back to full vision the next excitement began.
The second Wednesday morning of the new year a routine gas inspection revealed that there was a gas leak. It was a minor leak, hence we hadn’t noticed it before, but obviously a gas leak was not something to mess around with. The gas was promptly shut off and the process of getting it fixed began. In the meantime we had no heating or hot water and no hobs upon which to cook. Cue decamping to the in-laws. Becky’s parents very graciously opened their house to the four of us, and two friends we had staying that evening. Unfortunately it wasn’t fixed by the weekend and so we were with the grandparents for a longer than expected stay, finally returning on Tuesday after the house had warmed back up again after 65days without heating.
Now we haven’t written all this to elicit pity. These two experiences have given us the chance to reflect on the differences between our life here and our life and the lives of others in Nepal. Firstly, the hospital. Despite being New Year’s day and far from being the most urgent case in the waiting room we were in and out in just over 2 ½ hours without having to spend a penny or fill in a form. In Nepal we would have had to queue up for and then pay for any medicines as well as the services of the doctors before being discharged. The queue might well be a lot longer for the average Nepali, and while the costs might not sound a lot, probably less than £10 for a Nepali receiving the treatment I got this would be a lot for most Nepali’s. Enough at least for them to be put off attending.
Secondly the gas experience. It reminded us that for the last 6 years we’ve had no central heating in January. It’s not as cold as England in Nepal in January, although it feels it as it can be very hard to get properly warm, despite efforts with small individual heaters. Again these heaters can be beyond the cost of many Nepalese. January is always the ‘shortage’ month as petrol and gas are usually in short supply and load-shedding (the enforced power cuts) usually rise to around 12 hours a day about this time of year. And as always it’s the poorest who are hit hardest.
So an eventful start to the year, but thanks to supportive family and the NHS it really hasn’t been that much.