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What You See, When You’re Looking Up

Ho Chi Minh City: What You See, When You're Looking Up

I’m standing in a doorway and looking out on the street – this neighbourhood is getting a side-swipe from a typhoon that’s seriously ravaging more northerly parts of the country. There is some time to kill before the rain lets up enough to hop on the back of a motorcycle taxi and head back to the hotel. It’s a doorway to a barber, masseur and hair-dressers, so why not? 30 minutes later the stubble is all gone, I’m totally relaxed, and in between drifting in and out of sleep I spent a lot of time looking at the ceiling (and trying not to look into the eyes of the rather attentive attendant).

A few years ago had the pleasure of lying flat on my back on a trolley being pushed around an Italian hospital. The time spent there involved a fair bit of anxiety – the result of a mountain, a snowboard too much speed and not enough skill. The medical staff were acting beyond the call of their volunteer duty (not even someone in full protective chemical gear should have had to unlace my old boarding boots after a day on the mountain. For the record RG – I’ve got new boots). After a lengthy drive down the mountain, the time spent in the hospital was being wheeled along corridors, from waiting rooms to x-ray room and back again, and again. Minor complications delayed my release so I had a lot of time to kill and incidentally it was the first time in my life that I actually felt I needed a mobile phone. Given the number of people lying horizontal for extended periods of time in this space, how can the ceiing be used to practically and/or spiritually re-assure, or even entertain patients?