Feet First

“It is much more important to know what sort of a patient has a disease than what sort of a disease a patient has.” - Sir William Osler

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    Thursday, February 06, 2003
    Another post from my friend Chuen-Yen, a sobering one about rampant crime in Malawi, where your shoes can be literally stolen off your feet and machetes are the local substitute for baseball bats and Saturday-night specials:

    Happy February!

    Despite the serenity of Malawi�s natural beauty, outdoor activities can be quite stressful. Earlier this week, a lady was assaulted by a group of thugs while on her morning stroll. They pinned her down, seized her walking shoes and left her barefoot on the street. Another person was robbed of groceries en route to his car. Such incidents are becoming alarmingly common, especially off the main roads. In order to avoid mortal injury, it�s best to acquiesce when threatened.

    I was informed about the recent footwear incident when, wearing �made in China� Adidas, I visited a friend who lives a block from my home. In light of her area�s unsavoriness, she thought my well-worn sneakers too fine for walking outside alone. Consequently, she and one of her watchmen escorted me during my jaunt back to the hospital.

    Kenlow, the barefoot guard, was clearly hesitant to leave his station in the encroaching dusk. However, he could not object to madam�s wishes. Before unlocking the gates, he sharpened a one-meter machete and tucked it inside his patchwork jacket. The weapon was brandished only once during our tense five-minute journey, when a beggar approached. No violence transpired.

    After this foray, I was glad to be back in the safe part of town, where all frippery can be worn outside at any time and shotgun wielding sentinels escort me only after dark. Of course, crime is still common, but it�s usually an inside job.

    Hope you�re staying out of danger.



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