continued travel blather

It’s just to keep me from getting plane board.  Open laptop and write post at 39,000 feet.  Perhaps it’s bad discipline writing three days in a row after a weekly habit.

For some reason, the chewing and swallowing has gotten somewhat easier lately.  I’ve still got to find food that is moist, bordering wet.  But foods that I couldn’t eat a mere 10 days ago I can start eating now.  The problem is, right in the middle of the left ear where the jaw fulcrum opens and closes has started hurting intensely after I start chewing anything not super soft.  A brand new pain just when I don’t need it.

The result is that I’ve got to chew and eat less.  I can’t hack the pain once it starts.  But this isn’t about complaining.  One thing I hadn’t anticipated was eating meals with others where I haven’t chosen the food.

For some reason, I’m not feeling inclined to tell people that I’ve had throat cancer.  I might want to rethink that feeling.  The downside of not being open is that I’m obviously acting differently at meal time.  Case in point; today arrived at what was once a full operating apparel factory in the Free Zone of Jebel Ali, directly across the street from a U.S. military base (although no one would know it was a base — no tell tale signs).  The once bustling factory is now dormant waiting for the next challenge, or at least the owners are.  The benefit was that I could relax a bit, even sleep for an hour or two, take a shower and get refreshed without the hustle bustle.

My host rousted me for lunch to their factory dining room.  It was only three others and me.  We had eaten meals together in the past so they knew what I liked — which was spicy Thai food (their normal fare).  The cook being Thai, they had a nice spread laid out and my dishes already served.  When I looked down at everything I was relieved to see that there was soup, in which I could dip spoons full of rice, meat and other items on my plates that were not moist.  It didn’t take two seconds after the first spoon dip hit my mouth that a fire lit up.  My reaction was evident.  “What’s the matter Freddie, you love spicy.  Why are you sensitive,” they were saying.

I wanted to spill the beans but I held my ground.  I said my taste buds had changed.  Then more questions like, “Freddie, looks like you lost weight.  Are you still exercising daily?  Why did you loose weight.”  I don’t think I look any different, but I wanted to say, ‘nice people, please stop with the fourth degree already.’  But that would have been a clear sign of my own loss of control.  They were only being nice.  Point is, most of the delicious good looking food I couldn’t eat.  I sadly sat there, played with it and told them I wasn’t that hungry, when I really was.

Now I’m on a Thai Airways flight heading east and dinner service just finished.  The meal was arabic lamb with rice.  It was delicious, for the first couple of bites.  Then the jaw pain started and I had nothing to moisten the lamb.  I was dreaming of some yogurt dressing or cucumber sauce (or any kind of moisture cure besides water) because the meat was so good, and not something I often eat.  They had nothing (I asked).  So again, I had to leave most of what I wanted to eat sitting on the plate.  Out of my control (I think).

Regardless, the short time in Dubai was nice, and hot.  It’s overgrown with buildings as they slowly try to emerge from the financial crisis.

Besides the UAE having a top notch airline and airport, the fact that no immigration cards or paperwork are required for entering or leaving the country is just smart.  Very progressive.  Why most countries required forms to be filled out upon entering the country is a waste.  Why would any country collect and keep handwritten immigration/customs forms from millions of travelers daily.  The end cannot possibly justify the means.  Just ask a few questions and stamp the damn passport.

And Dubai is a major transit hub for a good part of the world, from Europe, Middle East, Africa, N and SE Asia.  So how is it that one can take bottled drinking water through security with no problem?  (oh, they don’t have overly reactive agencies like TAS).  Didn’t need to take the shoes off either.  No one did — through a security system that serves most of the world’s continents, except one.

The blather may have (over) reached its reading limit.  Anyway, because of my flowery shirt and the bandana I’m sporting to hide the scar, the hole and the ridiculous thick neck lymph, the flight attendants just asked if I’m some kind of artist.  I don’t want to disappoint them so I better put this away and do something artsy, like sleep.