Guardian Angel In my Flight

 Guardian Angel In my Flight

 In 1976, I was offered a medical officer’s job by Mr.Mbadiwe, the chief of the Community Hospital, near Orlu, Imo State, Nigeria,. We exchanged contract  and visa to Nigeria and ticket advice were sent to Air India Ernakulum, Kerala, India. Mr.Mbadiwe had promised to send a representative to receive me at Lagos International Airport. Those days communication to Nigeria, through phone was impossible and the postal correspondence used to take two to four weeks. I posted a letter showing  my arrival details to Mr.Mbadiwe, at least two weeks prior to my departure date. 

My parents bid farewell at Cochin Airport and I boarded my first flight on 29/07/1976. That was a small 50 seater Fokker Friendship aircraft bound to Bombay(then). My cousin, Kochu Devassy met me in Santa Cruz airport, and I got accommodation in nearby Centaur Hotel. The Nairobi bound flight was early morning of 30/07/1976. Then I was a stranger to all the departure formalities like immigration, customs and security. I boarded the wide bodied Boeing 707 aircraft of Air India and got a window seat. I introduced myself to the the passenger who sat next to me.His name was Kannan from Trichy, Tamil Nadu, India who was working in a cotton mill in Lagos. Through out the journey he gave me good company.

tn Nairobi, we stayed together in the same luxury hotel. I was told that it was worth seeing Nairobi National Park, a wild life sanctuary. I did not have enough money to buy the ticket, as in those days Reserve Bank of India only allowed $8.00 per overseas passenger. To my delight, Kannan advanced me the ticket fare to visit the park. That was an adventurous trip in a reinforced four wheel drive vehicle, where predator animals came close by. I witnessed the life of wild animals in their natural habitat hunting deers. I felt Nairobi was much cooler than India. The hotel authorities had warned us about the muggers snatching anything precious and running away. Again in 1979, I had visited Nairobi, on my way back to Lagos. This time I was a guest introduced by a close friend at Arondizuogu. The guest took me around Nairobi, and again he alerted me to be weary of nasty bandits.

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 I left Nairobi by Pan American  Airlines flight and the the flight was very pleasant. As the plane started descending for Lagos airport, I was a little perturbed about meeting the representative of the community hospital.  I arrived in the Lagos airport on 31/07/1976, cleared immigration and customs and collected my baggage. I went out and waited for a while, but I could not see the representative as promised. I did not know what to do next, as in those days there was no credit card facility, and I did not have enough Naira for a taxi journey. Kannan noticed my uneasiness,and I explained to him my predicament. He invited me to stay in their bachelors accommodation at Apapa, area of Lagos. That was really a god send and I felt very relieved. Kannan flagged a taxi and we both reached the accommodation shared by eight people. 

There was a Keralite among the eight, a  Nair, with whom I kept good friendly relationship throughout my five year Nigerian life. These occupants in the company accommodation, work in the cotton mill in shifts, and all of them were not there when I arrived. Next day, Nair took me to the Lagos office of my employer. There I met Oguchukwu,the secretary to Mr.Mbadiwe, who apologised to me for the inconvenience and mentioned that he has not received my letter.He arranged for my accommodation in an international hotel, called Mainland Hotel, at Surulere. I borrowed some Naira from Oguchukwu to buy a present for Kannan. I went with Oguchukwu to the accommodation, Ogochukwu thanked Kannan and others for giving me abode the previous night. I also expressed my sincere gratitude, gave back the money Kannan had lent and gave him the present. After a few days, I hosted a dinner for Kannan and Nair at Mainland Hotel. I realised, that in Nigeria, things did not move fast and the people are laid back. I still remember vividly, the generosity and compassion of a stranger in my hour of need,and my guardian angel came in guise of Kannan. 

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Dr. C.J.George

This blog is about my experience as a doctor working in various countries in different clinical set up. This experience spans through 45 years, in which I acquired a lot of favourable contacts and unfavourable encounters. I shall dig deep into them and make it interesting to the readers. Unlike others in the profession, I worked as a community medical officer in a remote areas, prison medical officer, benefit service medical officer, in cardiac surgery in prestigious institutions and as a private doctor. I was managing my own businesses, and real estate in three continents. I hope the information I impart will be valuable to the like minded readers.

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