Archive for December, 2010

Holiday Cheer: Travel for one’s health continued

Posted on: December 24th, 2010 | No Comments

Following up from our last post, the tradition of imbibing needs a bit more discussion.  To be sure, making new friends is surely one of the best parts of the holiday season whether outdoors or traveling afar.  Knowing a few ways to wish health and good cheer to others is a useful skill.  Interestingly, this is not something that’s relegated to a single country; years ago I spent half a night’s drinking in Munich’s Hofbrauhaus with a team of Japanese businessmen that started with a simple and hearty “Kampai!”  Still, travelers in the know realize that it can be a bit more complicated than that when etiquette and context are considered.  Here’s a few examples: 

In Germany, there are different ways to toast depending on the drink:

Beer: “Prost!” (regardless of the occasion)

Wine: “Prost” with friends and “Zum Wohl” in a more formal environment  

Cocktails: Specific toast such as “Auf uns!” (To us!) or “Auf Dich!” (To you!)  

Schnapps: Toast such as “Hau’weg das Zeug!” (Down the hatch!) but “Prost” is fine as well.

Whiskey/Whisky: use “Cheers!” or a toast like “Auf Schottland!” (To Scotland!), never “Prost”

In Russia, no one says “Na zdorovje” as a drinking cheer.  Perhaps because this toast is used in many Slavic countries people assume it is also used in Russia.  While it does mean “To your health,” Russians only say it as a reply to “Spasibo” (thank you) much like people use “Cheers” in the UK.  So while it might seem strange given the importance of drinking and the tradition of toasting in the country, there is no universal drinking cheer in Russian.   Sometimes people say “Budem zdorovy” (Let’s stay healthy) or “Chtob vse byli zdorovy” (Let everybody be healthy) or shortened to just “Budem” (in Ukranian).  After a toast, it’s common to clink their glasses together but not if you are drinking something non-alcoholic.

In Asia, it’s understandably a bit more complicated.  In many countries, toasting and saying cheers is not common and not just for religious reasons.  For example, in India where at business people may just say cheers but not in other occasions.  In Japan, “cheers” is typically said at the beginning and the end of a meal, while in Singapore there is no set protocol.  In China, a number of terms are used including, “Yung sing” (drink and win), in Cantonese “Gom bui” (dry the cup) and in Mandarin “Gan bei” (dry the cup).  On the mainland, toasting is an important part of formal occasions.  The host makes the first toast and usually continues throughout a meal. If it’s for a quest, a return toast should be given.  Luckily, given the eagerness to drink, it is possible to join the cheers using a non-alcoholic beverage.    

Happy Holidays Everyone!

A dozen ways to say “Cheers”

Posted on: December 22nd, 2010 | No Comments
  1. Spanish speaking countries: Salut, salud or other variation
  2. Francophone countries: A votre santé (or just “santé”)
  3. Costa Rica: Pura vida (“pure life”) which they use for everything
  4. Thailand: Choc-tee
  5. Japan: Kampai
  6. Greece: Yamas or stinygiasou (informal situations) or eisigiansas (formal situations)
  7. Countries of the former Yugoslavia: Zivjeli
  8. Germany, Austria and the Netherlands: Prost or prosit
  9. Ethiopian (Amharic): Letenachin  (L’-TAY-nah-chin)
  10. Farsi: Ba-sal-a-ma-TEE (yes, they do drink in Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan)
  11. Finnish: Kippis (KEEP-us)
  12. Ireland (last but certainly not least): Sláinte! (like many other cheers, this actually means “to your health”)

Top things seen and experienced in Haiti

Posted on: December 16th, 2010 | No Comments
  1. Old friends along with Prestige beer
  2. Buildings marked green (structurally ok), yellow (fixable) and red (unsafe and should be destroyed)
  3. Men dismantling enormous destroyed buildings with hammers and wheelbarrows
  4. Active deforestation (it’s green with the rain but some places have visibly less trees than before)
  5. Air France’s lost luggage bin that had some bags with month’s worth of dust on them
  6. Lots of election posters (the president’s candidate have been burned in the recent demonstrations)
  7. A middle-aged man wearing a black t-shirt that says “Slacker” across the front
  8. Kids playing soccer as pigs walk by
  9. Rice, bean and chicken dish bought on the street (fingers crossed that I don’t get sick)
  10. Lots of aid workers and volunteers still arriving despite the challenges

Back in Haiti

Posted on: December 13th, 2010 | No Comments

It was touch-and-go getting here but it’s nice to be back.  The weather is warm and the streets are vibrant.  But there is tension in the air and the traffic is nearly unbearable.  Rain is keeping the potential riots at bay for now.  But nearly one year on, people remain frustrated over slow change and new problems such as cholera.  Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, most Haitians do not have the resources to prevent the disease and so the numbers of sick people is growing daily. To address the epidemic, a series of cholera treatment facilities have been set up by the ministry of health and international aid workers. These can be as simple as tents that provide oral rehydration therapy but the help they provide is life-saving. Incredible as it may seem, the international consolidated funding appeal for cholera is only 25% funded. But prevention, particularly having a clean source of water, is key.

Health Promotion Poster in Port-au-Prince

Travel Delays: How to deal with it

Posted on: December 11th, 2010 | No Comments

Sometimes this happens.  The gauntlet of preparing for a trip, the dash to the airport and then an unexpected snow dump on the Midwest that shuts down everything.  So what to do when your plane is delayed?  Here’s five ideas for making the most of halted travel:

  1. Don’t wait in line: Rather than joining the long lines of people sorting out alternative travel arrangements, it’s faster to get on the phone.  This should get you talking to an airline representative within a minute or two.
  2. Stay active: Most airports are well suited for those waiting inordinate amounts of time.  Go to less crowded areas (a good excuse to stretch your legs) and seek out time wasters such as shopping, good restaurants, spa facilities including showers and massages, and even museums.
  3. Catch up: Get ahead and plan your next trip.  If you don’t have anything with you, airport bookstores are stocked with travel guides.     
  4. Consider going into town: While many airports are way outside of town, some allow quick and easy access to downtown (think Washington National and Amsterdam’s Schiphol).
  5. Be relaxed: Little or nothing can be done about weather, mechanical failure and “acts of God.”  Albert Einstein once quipped “I never worry about the future.  It comes soon enough.”   

Preparing for another trip to Haiti

Posted on: December 8th, 2010 | No Comments

Time for another visit to Port-au-Prince.  The cholera epidemic is getting worse and the elections have put everything on edge.  Yesterday, violence gripped the city.  Frustrated Haitians took to the streets, blocking off intersections and burning tires.   It is unclear how things might progress but air travel into the city is a no-go today.  Well before this, on 24 June, the following travel warning was issued:   

“The Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to avoid travel to Haiti. The January 12 earthquake caused significant damage to key infrastructure and access to basic services remains limited.  The country continues to experience shortages of food, drinking water, transportation and adequate shelter.  The earthquake significantly reduced the capacity of Port-au-Prince’s medical facilities and inadequate public sanitation poses serious health risks.  While the Embassy’s ability to provide emergency consular services has improved in the months following the earthquake, it is still limited.  The level of violent crime in Port-au-Prince, including murder and kidnapping, remains high.”

In any case, that’s hardly enough reason not to go.  In Haiti, people work, kids go to school and aid workers are helping to reconstruct the devastated city.   For Neverest, field testing for Hydro-Life is ongoing and the midst of the cholera epidemic, it’s as important as ever.