Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Jason Robards Helps Me Smuggle - Belgium

In July 1995, my boss, Dr. D and I were going to Europe together to recruit physicians to run our phase II clinical studies of a novel oncologic agent and to train our phase I clinical staff how to reconstitute the agent properly. Our plan was to visit a different city or country every day of the week. We would visit Brussels, Belgium; Düsseldorf, Germany; Oxford and Clatterbridge (near Manchester), United Kingdom; and Rome, Italy. Dr. D was very tall, about 6 foot 4 inches and goofy looking, but a nicer and funnier guy you would never meet. We had traveled together before and I was looking forward to traveling with him again because we always had a good time.

We each packed a carry on bag only and flew to Brussels from JFK on a Saturday night, business class. After clearing customs were met at the extremely clean airport in the very early Sunday morning by our colleague, who was on the project before we were, Raz.
I gave Raz a big hug; the last time I had seen him was at a big international cancer meeting in Los Angeles, California. He and Dr. D shook hands warmly. Raz was Bengali by birth, but had such a British accent that you couldn’t tell and he had been a British citizen for since he was a lad. He told me once that I would recognize him because he looked like a terrorist. He was right. He had a shock of black hair, tan face, eye glasses and a trimmed mustache and beard. He really is a sweetheart with a great sense of humor and we were instant friends from the day we met and have kept in touch. Did I mention that he brought a bag of fresh baked croissants? Now I ask you, what is not to love?

We got into his car and drove to his flat. There we met his wife Suki, who didn’t say very much but smiled a lot. They were both wonderful hosts as they served us coffee with our croissants and we planned our day. The object was to stay awake the whole day to become accustomed to the time difference. Then Raz took us to a part of town that sold antiques and we window shopped for a while. Dr. D was interested in a lamp shade that looked like a Tiffany. He went in and it was, but he reported that the shop keep wanted too much for it.

We toured around and saw the old town center:

Then we drove out to see the Atomium (the largest model of a molecule in the world):

For dinner, we went out to Les Rives du Ganges, a lovely Indian restaurant, where the food was delicately spiced. Raz said that it was the best in town for Indian food. It really was fine and some of the best I had ever had. Then he took us to our hotel. The hotel was quite modern and reminded me of Swedish furniture that I have seen.

The next day we went to the Brussels office and discussed the phase II protocol with our colleagues. It was great to see every one again and meet those who I had only spoken to on the phone. That evening we went out to a fancy Belgian restaurant and I was shocked that my menu had no prices on it. I remarked on it and was told that none of the women’s menus would have prices. At the end of the meal, the waiter came and read the dessert cheese choices to us and I repeated the names of the cheeses in French. He complimented my accent. The dinner was expensive, but not that memorable.

Next, Germany!

6 comments:

charles ravndal said...

hi. I read your comment on bedtime stories. You said something about the sidebar that it's on the center right ? I am just wondering since I checked it on Opera, Firefox and IE (all of these browsers are the latest versions) and they all work perfectly fine. I tend to fix it up but I cant seem to find the glitch.

Sue said...

It is fixed now. Thanks!

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Guitar Master said...

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