Tuesday, November 25, 2014

BAROTRAUMA the beast in the air

So I’ve been traveling a fair bit lately and I’m grateful to get to see the world and all, to hear some really fine poets read and talk about process and music and life and lots of other fun stuff that’s usually not in their official biographies. I just have a small problem which means I’m usually irritable on the inside for the first half an hour after landing, on the inside because I’m traveling on an African passport and immigration officials are not exactly the right folks to spew your drama on unless you look forward to another 11+ hours in the air.

Aeroplane ear. Basically what feels like hot needles piercing the inside of your ear at random intervals, the back of my ear actually heats up, I don’t want to talk or move, not that you can ever hear those gorgeous whispering air stewards anyway but I can’t hear too clearly (personal pet peeve of mine) and for the last 20 or so minutes screaming babies (who are probably feeling the same damn thing) add to the problem, because they are doing something I can’t. Crying. I’m sure it doesn’t fix the problem but I suspect on an emotional level it works better than the Valsalva maneuver.

I need my ears for work so I try to arrange my schedule such that I’m free on the first day or as much of it as possible but that is not always possible.  So that’s my first piece of advice try not to walk straight into a meeting if you know or suspect you are prone to aeroplane ear. I’m no sissy, I have the knee scars and upper arms to prove it but this thing hurts like a … because you can’t reach it to scratch it, and sometimes plucking your finger in there sets off the mother of all stabs. Think of it this way I’ve just been to Rio, Johannesburg, Dhaka and am now in Stockholm and THIS is what I have to talk to about. Because its important and you can cry if you want to but for something possibly more effective try the below

1.     Try not to travel if you already have a cold or ear infection
2.     Buy those pressure ear plug thingys and put them in before the aeroplane doors shut, you may take them off again after the plane levels and place them back in before the plane starts descending
3.     Take a breath in, then pinch your nose and try to breathe out gently with your mouth closed hopefully the ear pressure re-regulates ie the Valsalva maneuver
4.     Ask to be woken, an hour before landing
5.     Take antihistamine a day before or a decongestant as per your pharmacists recommendations
6.     Suck on sweets, in their absence pretend to chew and swallow, when you start to feel discomfort in the ear
7.     If you’re a praying woman or man, now’s probably as good a time as any

If a few days after landing and taking paracetamol, if you find that necessary, you still have ear issues may I suggest you do whats necessary and see a doctor? Safe travels.

Thursday, November 13, 2014


Yeah so that's that. I was in Brazil at the invitation of the Museum of Art in Rio. A few caipirinhas, two workshops, one Universidade das Quebradas talk and one lecture (alongside South African poet and educator Joan Meterlekamp) later, and I'm back home dreaming of Rio's mosquitoes and beaches and remembering her favelas and people - you know, the stuff poetry is made of.

Carioca |ˌkarēˈōkə|

a native of Rio de Janeiro.

2 (carioca) a Brazilian dance resembling the samba.

Lazy man's diary entry.
I sat still in the middle of a forest with only 1 other person around faux-meditating, swung past Paulo Coelho's and Pele's homes, ate who knows what manner of fish, checked out Christ the Redeemer's statue (which is cross-less and I've rather always liked that), danced Samba with the Atlantic for an afternoon, seen more half naked people in one week than I ever have in my entire life (I applaud anyone who is comfortable in their own skin), been to Copacabana and Ipanema to see what was so special about that girl that she got her own song (she should've gotten 2 if the locals are anything to go by), touched the edge of jungle so thick you better kiss the boy you have a crush on before going in because …unless they send the Hulk and the A team in after you you ain't coming back out, checked out Sugar Loaf mountain because who doesn't go to a place called sugar anything, suffered yatch envy at Botafogo, seen the Okavango Delta's twin (sister you need to come to Grumari and meet your brother), learnt that vultures' have cousins as protected as QE's swans in that other English speaking land, spoke fractured Portuguese till I was blue and pink in the face (thank you melanin how would anyone know), gained a shade of color, wondered if the one-way looking streets could accommodate both the vehicle I was in and the one hurtling my way at 14000 knots (given the humidity in the air surely that counts as traveling through liquid-y substance, no? well I'm here and I can cry if want to) and in conclusion Rio I am in awe of you. 
With all your mosquitoes and baggage and lightness and all, all that jazz you are my kind of guy…

And you dear reader, a few postcards for you below to help you navigate this country of 200 million people. Can you smell the sea? Wherever you are, I hope so.