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A little too much more

From a police escort to explosions of all sorts – from colorful dancers, fireworks and wastelines, Jennifer Richard dives right into the Avicenna Conference 2012 in Sri Lanka

"I hope they haven't been waiting like that for three hours," someone commented as the dancers stood poised, frozen. The performers waited while we filed off the coaches that had delivered us safely – and, as yet inexplicably, under police escort – to the Sri Lanka coastal resort of Bentota, following a slightly delayed flight. And then, as we disembarked into the hot, humid air and lush green surroundings, a riot of orange twirling and energetic drumming marked the Avicenna Conference 2012 open. Refreshed with a welcome coconut drink, the delegates disappeared to their rooms – but, even with the need for a nap to shake off the jetlag (and despite the aforementioned delay), there was still plenty of time left in the sun-blessed day to take advantage of some pool time. The evening's activities saw yet more dancers, and two ‘most' moments. The first was the most frightening firework display I have ever experienced – this coming from someone whose father once tried to set some off under the balcony on which the would-be audience/victims were assembled. Back to Sri Lanka, and something about the acoustics on the lovely poolside lawn on which delegates had gathered for dinner magnified the explosions to heart-racing proportions, triggering somewhat hysterical laughter and some people – OK, me – having to fight the urge to hide under the table. (The four-and-a-half-month-old delegate at my table, I have to say, was probably the most nonplussed.) The second ‘most' moment was the most extensive feast I have ever seen. From the host country's cuisine to Moroccan, Thai, Italian, French and more, the sheer choice of food at the welcome dinner caused a serious amount of indecision – and, ultimately, some seriously stretched waistbands – in the delegates. Believe it or not, I'm looking forward to the business sessions getting started – and particularly hearing from speaker Jo Cleary, executive director of Lambeth adults' and community services. Hopefully she's going to shed a little light on the murky issue of how pharmacy can work with local authorities under the reformed NHS. Of course, I cannot tell a lie, I'm also looking forward to more pool time and tomorrow evening's Sri Lankan dinner – though I am hoping for an absence of fireworks…

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