Doctors, planes, pants and stockbrokers (day 188)

Now I have a plane ticket to go home next Monday. It’s quite amazing what you can achieve with a credit card.

After three visits to various doctors, I can confirm that:

* My lungs are not normal. They tell me it takes a month to recover. X-rays bear that out. You can see the nasty white stuff on my lungs (particularly on one side), but

* I am well enough to travel. Basically this means that my lungs are getting enough oxygen into my blood so that I won’t fall unconscious when the plane gets up high in the air and air pressure drops. I never quite figured out why the air pressure drops when the cabin is supposed to be fully pressurised. But it does. Cos otherwise you would not need to pop your ears. And besides, that is what all the doctors told me.

London is okay. It is really excellent to catch up with friends that I have not seen for a while (in some cases, quite a long while). But I guess my experiences here are all somewhat tainted by the fact that I don’t really want to be here. Now that I have decided to go home, I really want to just be home. It’s that waiting place thing again. Fortunately this time I am not chained to a hospital bed by the IV in my arm.

Strangely enough though, I do have to admit a certain reluctance to give up on travelling for the summer. The reason this is strange, of course, is that because going home is the only rational decision. The other places I could go are either too cold (Western Europe, North America), too dangerous (the Middle East, Central Asia), or just not on my list of places to go (Africa). Besides which, my lungs are not working perfectly yet (see above). And I need to provide some physical evidence of my wellbeing to my family, who have probably long-since tired of worrying from a distance about a son/brother/nephew/cousin in some clinic in north-western Russia.

Still I have this strange feeling of disappointment. Humans are not entirely rational, I suspect.

And if I needed another reason, my cargo pants (the only pair of pants I have carried for the last six months, with the exception of my wear-only-when-sleeping-or-on-trains-or-when-washing-my-cargo-pants pair i bought in thailand) are giving way. First one hole (successfully patched on the ferry from Sakhalin), but now three more. Maybe it is a signal from fate.

One thing that really struck me this time about London is the hurriers – the people who scurry about the footpaths, subways and metro access tunnels of London at high speed. They run up and down escalators, squeeze past me on the stairs, and take their lives into their hands by ducking off the footpath into the street to pass me as I amble along the sidewalk.

Economic theory suggests that the people who hurry the fastest are those who face the highest opportunity costs (i.e., for whom time is the most valuable). Maybe this is true. Certainly people hurry more in the financial district than in other parts of the city.

(Skip this paragraph if you could not care less about economics. Actually economic theory is a bit more complex than portrayed above, since it also recognises that there are costs to hurrying. So the person who hurries the most is the person who gets the greatest net benefit from hurrying, taking into account the additional risks and unpleasantness of hurrying, and the extra apologies you need to make when you hurry to all the people you piss off by pushing past them).

I wonder where they are all hurrying to. I worry that they are hurrying to nowhere really, just to the next hurrying opportunity. Of course, this is the perspective of someone who has had just about limitless time for everything for the last six months. I remember when I was a hurrier too.

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