Monday, November 3, 2008

The San

Policed by doughy matrons, sexless as nuns, who seemed to have been in nursing since the Crimean War, the Rhodes San (Sanatorium) had a whiff of the asylum about it; that, and a lingering smell of iodine.

Iodine, a Wonder Drug Since 1897
You’d sit down, ramble about your symptoms, they’d listen absently, then vice your mouth open with their strong pudgy fingers and paint your throat with foul-tasting iodine. No discussion. You could have a stomach bug, flu, or a broken arm, whatever- open wide and out with the iodine.

Bubonic Plague
Any hapless student who wandered in with a mild cough was subjected to enough projected hypochondria to overcrowd Settlers Hospital. Routine res food poisoning would be upgraded to bubonic plague or consumption in one short, adamant, misdiagnosis.

Thermometers at Dawn
Being bedridden in San was not a pleasant internment. At six a.m. every morning, thermometers would be thrust into the inmates’ still yawning mouths. Temperatures would be taken, and throats re-painted with iodine. After three days of this, I was a broken man. The only thing that kept me sane was my girlfriend Nadja, who’d talk to me through the window bars, and slip me illicit cigarettes.

Cough Medicine and Black Label
In second year some bright spark discovered that if you downed a bottle of San cough mixture and chased it with Black Label you got a giddying, rushing buzz. In that month, the San dispensed 500 bottles of cough mixture, before they became suspicious and changed it to a less gratifying brand.

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