Ahmed and I have a guest at home, Basel. He has been waiting in refugee shelter The Dome (De Koepel) for so long that he has come to live with us temporarily. This week he got sick. He suddenly got a lot of pain in the lower right part of his stomach. We called his doctor, but he’s on vacation. We got a tape told to call the GP. I called, but I did not understand the Dutch options menu. So I took Basel to the GP station. We arrived and a woman opened a window. I explained the situation and the woman pointed out a phone number. We had to call for an appointment first, she said, and she closed her window again.
Ahmed was the only one with a little credit left, so he handed over his phone. I struggled through the menu and got a woman on the phone. Then the call credit ran out and the phone went out. Fortunately she called back. She asked a lot of questions and came to the conclusion that we had to go to the GP. That worked out well, because we were already there. The woman behind the window wanted to speak to us now, because we had called first. She asked for Basel’s date of birth and his address. Then she wanted to see a pass. The Dutch love that, on passes. I have one for every shop, for the waste, for the bank, the train, for the library. We gave her a bunch of passes. We started by asking all the questions she asked if she was looking for a suitor.
In Syria it goes like this: you feel sick, you go to the hospital, and your illness is fought. It’s free and there are no questions. Basel nearly passed out in pain. After a lot of waiting and answering questions, he eventually got two morphine syringes. The pain subsided and did not return. We went home and decided to buy a lot of fruits and vegetables. Getting sick in the Netherlands, better not.