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A couple travelling through Asia (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia) came to see me a few weeks ago. The 28-year-old Caucasian female of the couple had been in Hanoi for the last five days. She had been suffering with sore bones and was feeling she may have overdone it in Thailand where they had been trekking, but the pain was getting worse.
A trip home to Canada this summer put me squarely in the midst of the Pokémon Go phenomenon. This wildly popular mobile game has its players chasing digital characters in ‘augmented reality’ — real world environments augmented by computer-generated effects.
A feature of colonial cities is the presence of recreational activities from the colonising country. Throughout the former British empire there are cricket ovals and rugby fields, polo fields and racecourses. Growing up in one of the former British colonies these were part of our culture, bequeathed to us by our colonial masters.
Not that long ago, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg pledged to give away his gazillions of shares of the company he famously started in his pyjamas. Add to this fray the recent Brexit vote in the UK and the never-ending US presidential campaign, and you could say I’ve had plutocracy on the brain for a while now.
This story starts over a year ago when a happy gentleman from the Philippines visited me for his yearly health check. These involve a range of tests and with this particular patient I noticed that his blood pressure was on the high side. I gave him advice which included a change of diet and some steady exercise. My patient was also starting to show early signs of diabetes and so I prescribed him medication. But this is difficult to understand for a person who does not feel ill; health checks have a purpose of finding disease early and preventing disease from developing further.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the acronym that makes your mouth feel full of marbles — lgbtqi (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender — queer/questioning, intersex) — disappeared; if rainbows took back their real meaning; the word gay once again meant bright and happy; pride referred to a group of lions or to deep pleasure and satisfaction; you stepped outdoors if coming out; people could marry whoever they wanted, and same-sex marriage no longer deflected media attention from important issues.
The conventional approach to getting fit (joining a gym or plodding along on the pavement) is failing us. About 70% of the western adult population is overweight and over 30% are classified as obese. Vietnam, like most of the world, is beginning to follow in these unhealthy footsteps.
By the time you read this, another graduation will have been celebrated at KOTO. This year three classes of young men and women proudly walked across the stage as they received their certificates, the triumphant culmination in their two-year journey with KOTO. If you’re not familiar, KOTO provides vocational hospitality training to youth who come from highly disadvantaged circumstances.