Saturday, August 30, 2003

the highs and the lows... 

Well may I start by saying how good are the raiders. At the start of the season I was chatting to my good mate Bill, the yardsman at hennessy, and he said he had a feeling that the raiders were going to win it this year, no don't get me wrong, he doesn't look much like your average clairvoyant but here's hoping that he got this one right. It's hard not being able to kick back in front of the games with a cold beer and hurl abuse at the referee though, I guess it's the little things you miss the most.

So what have I been up to... Life has settled into a routine for the time being, I'm teaching away and I think it's going pretty well but I need to start preparing for the prac which I will have to supervise later in the year. This involves going to visit the countries biggest mental hospital in Pabna which is about 5 hours away so I might have to take a couple of days for that one. It will be a toss up because the place in Dhaka has the advantage of convenience but Pabna has the advantage that the students will get to see a wider variety of clients and may have better resources... we'll see hey.

Next weekend is the performance of the cultural evening. This was an idea concocted by one of the ladies here called Mohur who works with the volunteers with the idea of a cultural exchange. The only things we were given as guide lines were that as there is a good chance that some of the patients will attend we could not portray any of the following: inappropriate dress (particularly by females), alcohol consumption, gambling or anything else which may offend a muslim audience. Now is it just me or does that make the job kind of tricky. You can scrub Anzac day, Melbourne cup and the bulk of australia day straight up. So anyway with these limitations in mind we are doing a brady bunchesque year in the life of a western family. The central characters are me as Dad, Mel as Mum, and a few notable kids, we also have some austrian cousins who we will go to visit. The down side is there is going to be lots of singing and dancing which we are all pretty crap at. My hope is that everyone will be highly amused by the idea of a bunch of foreigners getting on stage and basically embarrasing ourselves quite considerably. we can only hope. I don't hink there will be any world tours to follow if you catch my drift.

Now some of you may have thought that the cultural evening would have to be reaching for new lows but in my current existence it is merely indifferent. The real low is that last week I contacted the American International School which is the place with the climbing wall. They said that the only way I could use it was by becoming a campus member at the bargain basement rate of US$75 per year, it doesn't sound like that much but if there is only one day a week I'm allowed to climb and I wouldn't be able to climb every week due to other engagements it starts sounding pretty expensive. Will have to ring them back and find out what else this membership would entitle me to, if there's a pool, bar etc. thrown into the mix and I can take other people with me then it might deserve some more serious consideration.

Oh well that's enough for one crack. Am more than happy to answer questions as it is now hard for me to think about the kind of things that might be intereting to an international audience so please fire away.
Weblog Commenting by HaloScan.com

Saturday, August 23, 2003

boat trips and hobnobbing 

Well it's great to see that the kiwis are biting... always good for a giggle.

Friday was Patrice's birthday and so as she was away in Dhaka hanging out with her parents it was left to me to organise the boat trip. For this task I was forced to enlist the most powerful of OT skills, networking. One of the OT's Shuhad came down with me to help book the boat, this consisted of me pointing at the boat, having some minor discussions in English about what we were prepared to pay and .... that was about it. The rest of the process involved much bartering in Bangla which I obviously did not understand.

Also managed with a little help from my friends some music (which I wasn't sure where to pick up from on the day so as a result... no music), the booking of the restaurant (good old Adrian) and transport back. So I reckon 3/4 aint bad. I find that if you do things too well people expect you to do them again so never do your best is my motto.

All in all a great day was had by all. The water was a bit choppy at times and a bit shallow at times but we made it to the right spot at about the right time, had a great feed, at an italian place and then the transport back was on time too.

I'm going to jump back to Thursday night now just to be confusing.

Went in to Dhaka to do a bit of shopping, for food mainly and then went to meet some of the girls at the club for a bit of a drink. They were planning on going to a restaurant with one of their UK mates for dinner and when he turned up at the club they said it would be really great if I could come as they had to get back to Savar that night and thought it was too risky without a hardcore male chaperone. He obliged only to tell us at dinner that it was his birthday.. felt pretty bad crashing his party but I think it turned out in the end. The bad thing was before leaving the club we had all stashed a few drinks in our bags, highly illegal but meh, to have over dinner as most places in the yuppy part of town don't sell alcohol but you can BYO. As it turned out Andrew, birthday boy, had brought champagne and wine anyway so our drinks stayed well and truly stashed. The upside of this was that I managed to give Patrice a can of fosters on her birthday which as I said at the time was the next best thing to buying her one.

which brings us back to friday....

In the afternoon Adrian asked me if I would like to go into Dhaka with him that evening. Said he was meeting some Bangladeshi friends of CRP for a drink. Thought that it sounded like a nice casual evening and he's a good bloke so didn't want to turn him down.

So a cab ride and a minor car accident (little more than a bump on the side), we arrived at what must be one of the more prestigious addresses in Dhaka. Turns out meeting them for a drink meant they were having a party. They are big supporters of CRP and also very involved in the local art community. Must say that I felt a little underdressed for the second consecutive evening. In the end the whole thing went rather well. Got chating to a lass from the french embassy who wnats to throw some gala fundraiser for CRP, sounds like a bit of a blast. Also offered to use her diplomatic quota to get some beer if I so desired at diplomatic prices. Thought she was a bit older than myself but I might be in love anyway. Most of the other guests were artist, many of international acclaim. It was very strange to see a room full of Bangladeshi's all having a drink, women smoking.. unheard of here. Had a very interesting conversation on the way back about how neither of us would ever get invited to this sort of do at home. So I may well have an international network of the rich and powerful after 2 years here considering some of the people I have met in the not even 2 months I have been here..

Also found out today care of Ernie, the legend, that there is a climbing wall in Dhaka which is open to the public on Fridays... my day off so will have to suss that out next weekend.. If I don't have any gala events to attend that is.
Weblog Commenting by HaloScan.com

Thursday, August 21, 2003

in response to kiwi hecklers... 

Thos of you who read the comments section of this site may have realised that there have been a couple of random kiwis giving me a bit of stick about australias recent performances in the rugby. At first I thought that no response was warranted but now I have decided to repond in love and maturity, two things for which I am widely known.

This is my heartfelt plea to all Australians to be open hearted, gracious and magnanimous towards all kiwis in regard to their recent success in the rugby. Now some of you might be wondering if I have lost my mind. I haven't. I was as distressed as anyone by our recent performance and didn't even have the consoling atmosphere of the inside of a pub to help sooth the pain. But after the pain had subsided objectivity set in and I began to ponder the differences between these two countries. Australia is very good at cricket, NZ is crap. Australia is very good at swimming, NZ are not. Australia produces some of the finest wine in the world, NZ think they have good wine but people in Delhi probably think the water tastes fine too. In fact in absolutley every other thing I could think of, besides rugby, Australia is consistently better than NZ. Even in rugby despite recent super 12, tri-nations and bledisloe cup success, Australia has still won the world cup twice as many times as NZ.

When a country really puts all their eggs in one basket like this, don't you think it's the least we can do to promote that Aussie spirit of mateship and generosity to let the poor buggers have rugby?
Weblog Commenting by HaloScan.com

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

lazy days... 

Well today is a holiday. Why I'm not sure but who's going to complain for the simple fact that they do not fully understand why they don't have to be at work. So what amazing adventures have I had? Well last night a read a book about a guy who hitch hikes around Ireland with a fridge to win a bet until 3:30am, slept til late this morning and then read the rest of the book. So all in all I think I'm doing my best to enjoy everything that Bangladesh has to offer.

It will be an exciting weekend though.

Patrice's parents arrived from Australia last night and so she's off in Dhaka with them but will be back on Thursday, just in time for our boat trip extraordinare. This was a result of the last boat trip that Patrice and I went on which made the other volunteers very jealous and decide that they had to have their own one which was a devastating experience for both of us.

The interesting aspect of this is that I have been put in charge of organising the boat and the restaraunt. Some of you may be familiar with my organisational skills but more often than not in Australia they rarely extended beyond picking up a slab of beer on the way, and then only if you rang me when I was in the car and driving past a shop. So needless to say that laguage difficulties thrown into the mix this may well become an interesting task. Let's hope I can find a Bangladeshi guide as I don't even know where I'm going.

....regardless the plan is to catch a boat up the river to a restaurant have lunch there and then get picked up by CRP transport and taken back. Forgot to mention that it is also Patrice's birthday just to add another layer to the onion of enjoyment that the day will surely be.

The most excting news though is that my parents will soon be visiting me adn I thought I'd like to throw it open to people to suggest things that they could bring over for me. Have got a few ideas myself but am sure that my opinion is skewed due to the Bangladeshi factor and don't be shy, those of you familiar with brainstorming theories would know that sometimes it is the silliest most random ideas that trigger the best solution to the problem.

Anyway am dribbling... will have more to write about after the weekend.
Weblog Commenting by HaloScan.com

Saturday, August 16, 2003


Well it's been a bad couple of days in terms of things that have happened, fortunately none of them to me directly.

Let's start with the nightmare taxi ride home on Thursday night.. with Patrice this time. We get in the cab tell him where we want to go and then at the bus station at the edge of Dhaka he pulls out stops the engine and says he won't take us any further. Patrice was furious and I wasn't far behind her myself, so this guy is saying that he didn't understand us and he wants a whole lot of money and we're still sitting in the cab with every man and his dog staring through the window and trying to 'help'... so eventually after much discussion he decides he will take us and pulls out back onto the road. Now I have no idea why but at 11:30pm there was some blockage on the road that meant we essentially did not move for half an hour. You can only imagine how happy our cabbie was after he didn't want to take us anyway. I've come to the conclusion that cabbies are pretty much the same in every city in the world. Most of them don't speak english, or the native language of the given country and none of them have a bloody clue where they're going and they all want to rip you off. Can't help thinking back to the fact that every time Ben caught a cab in Sydney he'd tell them where he wanted to go and they'd give him a blank look and the street directory. So that was Thursday.

Went in to Dhaka on Friday as Patrice and new OT volunteer Jo were going to this place called new market to do some shopping and thought it would be more fun than sitting around all day. Fortunately it was. Had much fun gesturing to men at the salwar kamese shops that I really didn't think they had anything that would suit me (salwar kamese being traditional womens dress). Decided to catch a bus back which was fine with the exception of an horrific accident on the way. It looked like a taxi, the kind we usually catch had locked up for about 20 metres before hitting what I guess you could describe as a cycle ute... a bike with a tray on the back for carrying things. The taxi was on it's side and there were at least 2 people lying on the road looking like they were in a pretty bad way. So that was quite a disturbing event for a weekend.

Managed to spend a bit of time in Savar (pronounced Shavar dad) shopping for a stereo which is proving to be a bit of a nightmare. You can buy middle sized sort of ghetto blasters but none of them have CD players. Chatted to some guys about how much it would cost to get an amp built and speakers built as well and it wouldn't be that expensive but the amount of stuffing around required may not be worth it. Looks like to satisfy my craving for bass I will be forced to buy speakers like the ones you buy for a computer, with a sub-woofer and 2 satellites.. not ideal but compromise is the name of the game here in Bangladesh.

Next chapter in the saga was the tragic news that an emplyee of CRP at a different centre to this one, was tragically killed when he was electrocuted while changing a light bulb. I guess this kind of thing happens a fair bit here as I get the feeling that the regulation of electrics and buildings etc. is a far cry from what it is back in OZ. I don't think they're too familiar with the term OH&S either.

And to round it all out I get on the web today to check out the footy scores and the raiders lose to the cowboys, I know that we've got some players out with injuries and the cowboys got flogged last week but after what I've already been through I think I might need a little cry. It doesn't even look like the ref was that bad. Not even any chance of a cold beer at the end of it all....

It's times like this I reallt miss home.
Weblog Commenting by HaloScan.com

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

weddings continued 

I think in my last post I got up to the bit about the amazing clothes so i'll just kick on from there..

It was in a big sort of hall with lots of big tables full of people eating. Now so many of people come to these events that there is not enough room for everyone to eat at once, so after you arrive you kind of hang around a bit and when it looks like some people might be just about to finish you go and hover to make sure you don't miss out. The food was fantastic except that it was mainly meat dishes, as you would serve at a gala event which was no good for the 2 pommy vego's sitting next to me, but you get that on the big jobs. The only problem I had was that as I was trying to squeeze a bit of lemon over my food, a very normal thing to do but quite difficult with greasy hands, I managed to lose of control of the lemon, with quite surprising velocity, towards my brand new punjabi. As a result I was very embarrassed by the fact that I now looked like I needed a map to find my mouth.

In some ways it was very nice having the bride and groom sitting on their little beds as throughout the time we were there a lot of their friends and family went and sat with them and had a chat.

The ultimate part of the wedding for me was when it came time for the bride and groom to eat together. They sat at a table and the centre piece was a whole skinned goat... They had even gone to the lengths of replacing its eyes with marbles so they kind of sparkled. This was then fed to the bride and groom by I'm assuming a family member which seemed very interesting.

All in all it was quite a day especially considering it was about 2 hours drive each way.

Anyway am going to keep this one short as my guts are a bit crook, maybe it was all that fine wedding fare..

If anyone has any specific questions about stuff just stick them in the comments as I check them a fair bit and I will answer them to the best of my ability.
Weblog Commenting by HaloScan.com

Sunday, August 10, 2003

The amazing wedding experience... 

Well, needless to say the wedding experience was a very interesting experience but the real excitement started long before we arrived.

On Thursday night, having successfully honed my hunter gatherer skills in pursuit of a cold beer and being rather successful I had to make my way back to Savar by taxi alone. I had enlisted the support of a few bystanders who seemed to speak barely more english than my taxi driver to ensure we were heading in the right direction and was pretty confident that I had it sussed. This was until we ended up in some random part of Dhaka which I was convinced was no where near where I wanted to be. Eventually we managed to find the right road but on arrival at CRP there was a minor altercation over what I should pay. Students were roused from their beds as they spoke better english than the guard on duty and eventually it was agreed that there had obviously been a misunderstanding, I think I personally had established this somewhat earlier, but considering the late hour and consumption of beer on my part I decided that the best idea might be to pay the extra $2.50 he was asking me for and skulk off to bed.

In the morning I decided that in the interest of looking nice and swanky for the wedding I would get a haircut. This was a pretty enjoyable experience all in all and as well as a hair cut I got a wash and a few strange slaps around the head that I was inclined to view as a massage. Apparently I was grossly over charged but once again the magic figure of $2.50 failed to shock me.

All primed and decked out in my new punjabi i was ready to role and after a quick stop to pick up some of the girls in Dhaka we were really on our way. Now unlike an Aussie wedding where there is a ceremony and then a reception it was very hard to figure out what was happening at all. As far as I could tell there was a room full of people who in a seemingly endless procession sat down to eat. Sometime during the afternoon the bride and groom turned up seperately and sat at opposite ends of the room on what was kind of like a small bed with a roof, can't really think of a better description. They could not actually see each other which apparently is part of the tradition.

They were both dressed up to the absolute nines in traditional clobber which seemed to include a lot of gold necklaces, earings, bangles and glitter for the bride and a funny pair of shoes and funny hat for the groom.

Have been told this machine may shut down any minute so will post this and continue.... stay tuned.
Weblog Commenting by HaloScan.com

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Hunter gatherer instincts... 

Well have almost made it to the end of another week which has been one of the hottest yet, clear blue skies no rain in sight and you know that when the locals are having a whinge that it's a-ok for you to have one too. I'm not sure if my ability to concentrate for any extended period of time has been affected by the heat but I cna't seem to put my mind to anything at all this week, I try to do some reading and find that I've turned the page but don't have a clue what was on the previous page, feel like a 10 year old with ADD. I guess it's all part of the fun. Actually managed to put a few good hours in formatting lecture notes that had been written by someone else.... Hooray for me!

Went shopping yesterday and so will make an attempt at describing Savar Bazar. Its a fairly big sprawl of shops, more in the Sydney arcade style than the westfield shopping town kind of style. Wasn't too bad in the outside bits yesterday as it hasn't rained for a while but if it has can get quite muddy, which isn't too much of a problem because they always seem to have a few bricks to place strategically in the big puddles.

The only kind of crowd I could really compare it too is Christmas Eve but without the intensity of shopping that goes on then. Most people are just poking around having ducked down to pick up some bits and pieces or just hanging or passing through on their way home. Almost every free outdoor area is occupied by cycle rickshaws but occasionly the odd random on a motorbike decides on a shortcut through the fray.

Every person who speaks 2 words of English wants to stop you, have a chat about your country, invite you to their home and most of them are really friendly and after they have asked their questions will allow you to drift off into the crowd. I think the odds of finding the same shop twice here are somewhat limited but apparently for those who are sceptical there is newmarket in Dhaka which my female colleagues who are also seasoned shoppers find too confusing to figure out.

The particular event yesterday was that I needed to buy a Punjabi, which is kind of like a man dress thing. All of the volunteers have been invited to the wedding f some ex students of BHPI and I thought that my standard garb might not live up to the dress necessary for a wedding. Fotunately I had Patrice and another AYAD from Sri Lanka who came to visit us for a few days in tow and this is always helpful when buying clothes. Unfortunately they asked me questions like "does this colour match you skin tone?" I think they might have been taking the piss. Ended up with a nice silk number for a good price, apparently the best way to get a good price is to bartar for a while, tell them the price is too high and then start to walk out of the shop. It seems the choice between sale and no sale can inspire people to knock at least 100 Takka off the price.

It has been such a long hot week that this afternoon I am going to hook up with a Canadian volunteer who's here at the moment and see if we can't utilise our hunter gatherer instincts to hunt us down a few cold beers and preferably somewhere with a pool table.

Will surely have many exciting things to write about after the wedding unless something particularly exciting happens between now and then.

Final note: If you post a comment then everyone can read it which is fine or if you want more privacy please email me directly. I waould also be interested in hearing all sorts of things that are going on in various parts of Australia so please let me know what you're up to, have heard unverified rumours that people actually read this site.

Let's see the Raiders have eagle on toast this weekend!
Weblog Commenting by HaloScan.com

Saturday, August 02, 2003

Boat trips and bloody brad fitler... 

Well the raiders go down in a thriller hey? Almost glad I didn't watch as it sounded like a heart breaker. Someone from canberra should have sacrificed themselves for the team and taken fitler out with a cheap shot, maybe a late elbow after a kick or something... any enough about that.

On Friday we went on a boat trip to the village of one of the students. The boat was probably about 10m long had a roof in the middle part made of cane which doubled as an upper deck when it wasn't raining. We copped a bit of that on the way out but none on the way back which was very tidy indeed. Rain doesn't seem to matter so much here because it's so warm that as soon as the rain stops you dry out pretty quickly and so far the rain hasn't really set in for any lengthy period of time.

It was amazing cruising around and seeing the extent of the water. It is absolutely everywhere. I don't think it can be adequately explained but we were cruising over areas that when Patrice arrived they were driving trucks around on. There are a few small patches of land that poke up here and there but mainly it's just water.

When we arrived at the village, half deaf from the sound of the motor, they don't beleive in mufflers around here, it was a different world to either Savar or Dhaka. It was a quaint little village which we got a great tour of courtesy of Muktar's (the guy whose house we were visiting) cousin, this included a walk along through some villages where Patrice and I attracted a lot of attention, apparently they don't see too many of us white folk out there. We walked into the next Thana (which I guess is like a village) then caught a rickshaw a little further.

It was easy for me to look at the lives in the village and think it would be kind of nice to live such a simple life compared to all the razzle dazzle we are constantly surrounded with at home. I guess the down side is infrequent electricity, high levels of illeteracy practically no access to health care of any description. Also I think most of the people in the area were quite poor. However the seemed happier than many people I've seen in Australia.

On the way bacl we jumped in a little boat, rowed by an elderly gentleman with a sigle oar and having canoed myself was very impressed with his skill in directing the boat. I was saying to Nur (our guide) what a great way to travel this was and he looked at me like you would look at someone in Australia who was excited about getting in a car. I guess familiarity breeds contempt wherever you are.

Anyway a great day was had by all and I have to go as the power has been cut off and I don't want to lose another post.
Weblog Commenting by HaloScan.com

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?