27 September 2011

How’s health for small talk with strangers?

On the 31st of August, I joined the long queues for the check-in desk at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam. Everywhere around me, there were older people, and all carrying huge suit cases with luggage labels of the travel organisation.
I couldn’t help to smile - people around around me greeted each other as old friends, started talking about spa therapies, about Montenegro and about memories of spa therapies in Yugoslav times. No one talked to me or asked me if I was joining the spa therapy holiday too. Later, I learned I was supposed to have the organisation’s luggage label fixed on my bag and suitcase, and, I definitely didn’t fit the age category.

After checking in, I bought two extra books to make sure I wouldn’t be bored in case it would rain, I wouldn’t meet any nice people or if I had to eat alone for dinner.
At the gate, I was surprised. Three quarters of the travellers appeared to carry Fontana labels on their luggage and everywhere you heard talks of spa therapy. Moreover, the craziest thing for me was, everyone’s first question was what health condition brought people to spa therapy. Basically everywhere around me I heard strangers having spa application interviews: ‘Do you have rheumatism?’, ‘Do you also have AS’, ‘arthritis’, or .. ?. This was mostly followed by ‘Oh yes, I know what you mean, I have … already for a long time’ and a long introduction to the health CVs. Also the history of medication was very interesting: ‘What kind of medication do you use?’, ‘Oh, no, I had these and these side effects, you?’.

It was crazy. In my day-to-day world, my illness and health issues are the last subjects for conversations, and when, only with dear friends or family. Definitely no small talk subject with strangers, and here it was! The current weather was clearly not interesting enough. It was hilarious, I was sitting in a gate surrounded by people, 2-3 times my age, talking very openly about their health, illnesses, and I felt young, and weird.

Two flights, 20˚C, three passport stamps and two border checks later, a bus drove us to Igalo in Montenegro. It was sunny and warm, mountains were high, the sea was blue and the palm trees were everywhere. 

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