African Safari 2018
Revisiting Eastern and Central Africa after a long hiatus was like visiting “Wakanda” of many Black Panthers. Even though I was an invited Chief Guest, but I learned a lot from them rather than teaching them. Their sense of timekeeping, professionalism with which they were conducting the meeting and, the formalities they insisted upon were highly exemplary. What was most touching was, the residents’ presentations were given prime slots, and all delegates irrespective of their seniority were present in the hall during those presentations. The scientific programme was a very diverse one, comprising most of the Otolaryngology topics. What I appreciated the most was topics on practice, leadership, hospital, finance, research and ethics management, which are usually yawned out in the Indian subcontinent. Q & A sessions after presentations were genuine and stimulating, and indeed not made to test the IQ of the presenter. The whole event was an eye-opener for me coming from a country of “Chalta hai” attitude.
Most important of all, I loved the Gala dinner, a.k.a, the Banquet. I think Africans have a natural talent for dancing. The moment the music is on, their legs start shaking, and bodies start swaying. The whole banquet hall became a dance floor, and almost everyone was dancing with exhilaration, irrespective of their age, sex, position, and sizes. The wine was flowing like a river, but I did not find anybody drunk! A stand-up dance and comedy show by one Prof. Hammo, Ph.D. in Stupidology was hilarious. He taught me the Swanglish – an African English with Swahili accent and six formats of African dance!
The hospitality was unparalleled, and I was feeling guilty to accept money for my transport allowance. The conference venue was in a game resort, 3 hours’ drive from the Airport with a drive through the picturesque Rift valley. While returning, the taxi driver insisted upon starting 2 hours early, in the middle of the night; as he did not want to drive fast in the rain and hit some stray reindeer or a zebra. I was also in an utter shock when the hotel reception handed over me the breakfast package with “Refreshing African Hospitality” title on it, even though I had never demanded it. As such there is a significant Indian presence in these parts of Africa, food will never be an Issue. My favorite fish and vegetable salads were available in abundance, and so are some of the African fruits such as avocado, thorn melon, and passion fruits.
A chance to view the world’s second largest dormant volcanic crater and meet our oldest known ancestors – a homo-erectus skeleton are memorable. Africa had an extended rainy reason this year, thus depriving me a chance to do a safari due to torrential rains. However, it was a great feeling to trace some of the memories we had left long back, renew old friendships and meet our old fellows who were trained at our institute, now who have grown big beyond our imagination. Moreover, to see our certificates hanging on their office walls, and the gratitude shining in their eyes, is highly exalting.
Left home with heavy heart and productive experience. Sir, please come back next year again, they requested. This year, I have already taken part in five national and four international events in diverse places, addressing diverse topics. A very long travel bucket list is awaiting, focusing on underdeveloped areas. Ah, all for the growth of science! I promised them in a similarly way I had promised them more than a decade back, “Certainly! Asta la vista!”
Kalaya Tasmai Namaha!