Footnotes From Maldives with Larasati Silalahi


Have you ever got bitten by a caterpillar? I have. Yesterday I woke up early in the morning with a tennis ball sized left eye, rash all over my body and a caterpillar on my bed. Yes, it was a very shocking morning, as I never had that kind of experience before in life. Straight away I decided to go to Male, the capital city of Maldives to see the best doctor there.

The easiest way to picture Male is to think about Kuta, Bali meets the streets that were shown on Slumdog Millionaire the movie, more less like that. Everything is all over the place, messy, and everywhere you go you’ll find surprises, especially when it was raining hard like the other day. Surprises along the way… TA-DA!


After a one an hour boat trip (hate the fact that Kandooma doesn’t have an in house doctor!), I finally reached Male, and took a taxi to Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital, which cost me around two bucks. The lady in the front counter told me to go to see eye doctor, which I didn’t get why because it wasn’t my eye that had problem! Arrrgh! After spent 15 minutes got lost in a very hectic hospital traffic, I found myself back at the very first counter, talking to the same lady. Finally she understood what I was saying (thanks to body language!) and told me to go to cashier to get a queue number to see general practice doctor.


When my number got called, the other lady at the cashier asked for passport number and employment number which I didn’t have with me – was panicking in the morning, somehow the idea of bringing any IDs didn’t cross my mind L The cashier lady said there’s no way to process the appointment without it, so I called up the resort, thank God someone from the Human Resources able to help me out after an on-off 15 minutes telephone conversation from Male to Kandooma. Then I took another queue number, but this time the lady asked for Maldivian next of kin, which I obviously didn’t have! After a long argument and lots of miscommunications I finally got the appointment form, which brings me to another place to take a number (AGAIN!) to see the general practice doctor. During waiting for my turn, I saw two handcuffed convicts guarded by police officers passed me by and everyone in the hospital saw that as if it’s something very common. That was hardcore!


Funny how in each practice room they had three people, one doctor and another two consultants (perhaps they were the male nurses) that were assigned to work in one shift. Dr. Shuaya then examine my skin and eye and prescribed me with two kinds of injections – Avil and steroid (yes, steroid!), Avil tablets and a Lacto Calamine lotion. From there I was sent to the pharmacy, so I took another queue number, paid for my medicine, then took another number to get all the medicines, then sent to emergency room to get the injections. Seriously, don’t get it why the procedures to get injections were that complicated. Rocket science!


Thank God the nurse at the emergency room was very nice, she came from Nepal – I can’t remember her name because she had a very funny accent. Anyway, it took a while to find my veins and to get the injections.. Not to mention the pain! To cut to the chase, from the ER, again I was sent to the cashier – took another queue number then paid for my remaining bills. Still don’t get it why Male hospital requires a lot of queuing though; it was like a never-ending process just for that stupid caterpillar bite!


Alright, enough about hospital story – Male on the other hand also has good sides like the numerous shops that sell cheap stuff and nice variation of local foods. Talking about food, I had dinner once at a Thailand-Italian restaurant, which was pretty nice and cozy. Why Thailand-Italian? Don’t know, it seems that everything in Male offers irrelevant stuff in one place. Not just the restaurant, that also applies for the shops. Like example, there’s a shop that sells air conditioner, dolls, and shoes. Or the other one that sells mobile phones, make-ups and DVDs. Also the roads in Male are all look-alike, it’s very easy for tourist to get lost for hours like I always did.


Anyway, that’s all for this week’s blog. I’m off to rest after taking another Avil pill that never failed to knock me off in seconds. Apart from the crazy experiences and all the troubles, I had fun getting to know Male, and its hospital. Hey, at least I got an Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital’s patient member card now! Anyone wants to borrow? No? Okay.