HAVANA TIMES – I wrote an article with the headline “Everyday Absurdities in Cuba” here on HT a while ago, that’s why this article has the headline “New absurdities…”
It’s hard to find milk to Cuba. When people get sick, many are given a pound of powdered milk per month, via the ration booklet and with a medical certificate. This allocation is called a “diet”. There are also beef, fish diets, etc. This etc. isn’t to mark an infinite list, I’ve added it here because I’ve always found the three letters used to abbreviate the word etcetera very elegant and as this article is about absurdities, it seems like a good time to use it. Anyway, back to milk diets.
A neighbor tells me that he went to the doctor because he has unbearable stomach acid. After different tests, he went back to the doctor with the results. This morning, the excitement of possibly getting a milk diet made the acid go away. Even so, he told me that he explained to the doctor that he felt intense acid in his stomach at the time. The doctor carefully checked over the paperwork with the tests my neighbor had done. Then, he gave them back to him and told him that an ulcer is in fact developing in his stomach.
My neighbor, who is nearly 80 years old, asked him excitedly for the milk diet. The doctor told him that he hadn’t heard him properly and explained that the ulcer is currently developing and that he won’t be able to get a milk diet until the ulcer has formed properly.
There is a building near my house that took 25 years to build. Plans were made for 55 apartments, but as a consequence of the crisis in the ‘90s – the wrongly named “Special Period” -, only 33 apartments were built. The cement cistern for water storage was made for 55 apartments. One fine day after the construction work was completed, a health inspector appeared.
She told them that the water tank was too big for the building and that it would need to be reduced, and she ordered for a concrete truck to come and fill it a little with cement to reduce the tank’s internal space. Luckily, there weren’t any materials because of the “hellish” period and the resdients in that building now enjoy an abundance of water.
Today, moments before sitting down to write this article, I was walking with a friend towards my house, when suddenly he grabbed my arm as we crossed the street and told me that the left sidewalk is better, while I told him I prefer the one on the right. For a moment, my friend looks at me bewildered. We burst out laughing, imagining if anyone listening to us would have thought we were having a political discussion.
A few years ago, I received a police summons at my house, telling my niece could go to the ID card office. That’s because she turned 16 years old over six months ago. In Cuba, this ID card makes you an adult and is compulsory.
The police’s information about my niece’s age was correct, but it failed to recognize that my niece left the country for good, nine years ago.
Absurdities in Cuba are never-ending, and they are always a sign of the context in which they appear. The following is a very recent example.
A neighbor woke up 100% convinced that she didn’t have anything at home to cook. She opened the freezer out of habit and found a bag of chicken that she immediately put out to defrost. She went out to try and find root vegetables and beans to accompany the chicken. When she came back, the bag had defrosted and when she opened it she discovered that it was garbage.