Everyday, well almost, on my ride home from the hospital, I pass the American embassy. To see it go to Google Earth, ’cause this is about the best I can do from here. I have been told many times that there was an attack not too many years ago. The terrorists managed to kill a number of people, mostly Filipino staff. Since then the traffic pattern has been forever altered by the barriers and guards. In addition to the high walls, there is another layer of concrete walled barrier. All this is topped with barbed wire.
There are cameras and guard booths. The outside is manned by Saudi military. There are booths across the street.
And note, there is a pick up truck with an armor mounted machine gun in the bed. During the day it’s blazing hot. They have water coolers for the guards. The machine gun in the pick up has never been loaded so far as I can see.
Across the street is a mosque and the large hospital to the right is owned by the cousin to the CEO of my hospital. It’s bigger but perhaps not better? And there has to be a lot of road debris. The crack in the windshield is seen in just about every hospital vehicle I have been in.
I live in a high end compound. Two villas per building, I have the part in the first six upstairs windows. The three windows to the left are where I am writing this post. I know many of my neighbors, at least who they are, but have not seen them about. Everyone drives, keeps their curtains closed, and goes to the public spaces when it’s designated for families. I’m single. I should play soccer. They play Friday night at 10PM but the injury rate is close to 100% and I’d like to keep healthy. Note the speed bump to the lower right. There really isn’t room to speed in this small space but we have about six bumps. And for the fun of it we get very nice moonrises.
First you construct high walls, then you make small windows. And then you keep the curtains closed. I can’t tell you how many times I have walked into the cold air conditioned hospital rooms and found the curtains closed. Is it heat of the day, is it privacy, or is it some other reason? No matter, it’s absolutely standard to have high walls around any private compound or house. In fact they build the walls before they build the house. And, that’s a whole lot of cinder block and expense. Remember with Google Earth, I can look down on you.
It’s more like a hotel than hospital. They used a lot of marble. There are luggage carts like you see in a five star hotel. I’ve worked in all sorts of hospitals in the US. This is unlike anything else. It is the next big thing in healthcare in which patients are customers and not sick any more. What still gets me is that it’s damned hard to get blood out of the carpet. If it looks good, does it mean that health care is better?
I’ve been up on the second floor and wandering around for a while (months) now. I just missed the sign that says that this is a ladies only garden. There’s a sign. I never noticed it. So far no one has told me I’m in the wrong place. But then again with the heat, I’ve never seen anyone here. It’s a great space to hide out but it’s just to darn hot. In deference to the sign I avoid the place now.
The interesting thing is the mirror. I find that just about everyone walking into the elevator is looking at themselves checking hair and makeup. Oh, I forgot with wearing the abaya one doesn’t see anything but a scarf and maybe the eyes. It is mesmerizing nonetheless. Almost everyone I see is looking in the mirror. There’s got to be something psychological going on.
The central lobby of the hospital soars. There are a lot of people who go back and forth. Yet the sound is minimal. It really works in churches and in this large public space. It is eternally scorchingly hot in the courtyard but it is beautiful to look at. If you take the time to look at it, it will lower your blood pressure.
In the patient corridors are these posters of Arabic history and philosophy written up in both English and Arabic. Whoever thought of this was on the right track. It’s was a very thoughtful design touch. It’s unlike anything I have seen elsewhere.
Here’s another reason why I like the hospital architecture. This core runs centrally from 2 – 6 floors. It’s beautiful and peaceful. It really does lower anxiety. There’s something to be said for serenity. For a place where stress and illness are always present, this is as nice a setting as one could have designed.