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Monday, November 17, 2003

strange things afoot at the circle K 

please disregard, it appears that the crack has finally got to me....
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strange things afoot at the circle K 

posted yesterday but for some strange reason it has already been archived.... hmmm a little pre emptive in my estimations, someone at blogger must be a kiwi....
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strange things afoot at the circle K 

posted yesterday but for some strange reason it has already been archived.... hmmm a little pre emptive in my estimations, someone at blogger must be a kiwi....
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Sunday, November 16, 2003

Continued..... 

Well there is the rest of the trip to Sylet to tell you about which involved a lot of singing and dancing by the students as I played my guitar... they went absolutely nuts. Followed by an encore performance by myself on guitar and voice and Kim on kazoo. The two hundred people watching were quite amused but apparently didn't understand the concept of applause or throwing money, probably thought we were mad. May have been right.

A lot has happened since then.

Ana arrived on Wednesday night and had an amazing run at the airport, only took half an hour to get through customs which as mum and dad will know is an absolute miracle. We headed back to the hotel and then off to the Bagha club to meet up with some of the guys. I had spent the afternoon at the cricket watching Bangladesh play England. Not quite as exciting as watching the end of the Australia India game at the club.

Spent the next day pottering around Dhaka, well actually mainly having a really nice turkish lunch and catching up for a while, running a few errands and then heading back to the guest house to check out before getting a cab over to the Australia club for the usual thirsty thursday shenanigans. There was an unusually large contingent of Australians there and they're a good bunch so we had a fantastic time. Ana got to meet all of the people we're going to Nepal with and seemed to get on great with all of them. It should be a fun trip.

Late that evening we headed back to CRP. Had a bit of a sleep in on Friday before going for a bit of a wander, getting some breakfast and generally mooching around and taking it easy. Had dinner with Patrice and her man, and Aimee that night and I decided that it was easily a special enough occasion to crack the Merlot that mum and dad brought over. It was sooooo goood.

Took Saturday off work and gave ana the guided tour of CRP which inevitably includes me not being able to answer many questions about any part of it that isn't the OT teaching section.... but you get that on the big jobs. That afternoon Adrian kindly lent us his flat, and more importantly television so we could watch the rugby. Must admit that at the start of the game I was anything but optimistic about our chances. In fact even with 10 minutes to go and a handy lead I was biting my nails. But nothing can describe the elation of the final whistle going. That should shut the kiwis up for a while. Ana said the kiwis in Cambodia have been particularly bad, always going on and on about how there was no-one that could stop them. I guess they were wrong. Wish there was a kiwi volunteer or 2 here so I could give them a serve. The night of sport was completed by India giving the kiwis an absolute hiding in the cricket. Not a good day to be a kiwi. And the lesser known but equally jubilant event of Scotland beating Holland in the first leg of a qualifier for the European Cup.

Had to go back to work today to get a few things finished which I won't have time for when I get back to Nepal but Ana's been giving me a hand which has made it a lot easier.

Anyway, almost iftar time and we've been invited by some other staff members so better not be rude.

We may not win the world cup but as long as we beat NZ who really cares?
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Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Sylet 

There's nothing I love more than getting up at 5:30 in the morning. Seriously. But sometimes it is necessary and so you just bite the bullet and do it. Last Thursday was one of those days.

Six of us in all from CRP, all volunteers, from 3 different countries piled into the transport to head to the train station. I decided that I should take my guitar for no reason I can really articulate other than that when I was going to bed I thought "if I think about it in the morning then I'll take it". Turns out it was a pretty good call.

Dhaka is a dirty smelly noisy crowded city. However you do not have to travel far to realise that much of bangladesh is large expanses of rice fields dotted with thousands of little villages nestled into clumps of thick vegetation. Staring out the window of the train the thought crossed my mind that if all the people were to leave it would probably only be a few years until the whole country was covered in dense jungle.

The other defining characteristic of Bangladesh is it's flatness. In my travels to this point all of the features that rise up out of the landscape have been buildings, nothing you could even describe as a hill. The upshot of this is you can always see for miles. So you can imagine my surprise when after a bit of a kip on the train I looked out the window to see about ten metres infront of me a large embankment that looked like it must have been carved out of a hill. We were moving up into the hills and I do use this term quite loosley. There are hills but also large expanses of flat land.

The train plodded along through hills covered with tea plantations. They grow trees amoungst the tea to provide shade which also makes it quite picturesque.

Event though the trip is not very far, about 160 km, we didn't arrive until mid afternoon. The term very fast train could not be applied to the train we were on, or, i'd imagine, any train in bangladesh. It doesn't bother me though as I love train travel and it was quite a comfortable one.

CRP Gobindopur is a magical place. It is located on top of a hill in quite a rural area, the nearest major town, which is much smaller than Savar, is about 20km away. The two things that really jumped out were the smell of the air, which was fresh and cool (well comparatively) and the lack of any traffic noise whatsoever.

Chatting to Patrice who was up there setting up the CBR placement it sounds like the students were doing a magnificent job. Most of the people in rural areas have little or no education and almost no access to health care services, even if they did exist most people could not afford to use them. This means that some of the people they were working with were quite severely disabled as a result of never receiving any treatment for conditions like CP, stroke etc. It's a real eye opener for them to see that through changing the way something like dressing is done, or doing some simple exercises, or making some basic equipment out of locally available resources like bamboo can make an absolutley amazing difference to peoples lives. Some of the comments from patients who had only been getting treatment for a few days but were already making some progress were "You are a beautiful gift from Allah" Many of the clients have been intears when they realise they can do simple things they thought they would never do again. I was a bit disappointed that I hadn't been there for the whole time but maybe I'll get a chance next year.

Have to get off the computer so this post is to be continued.
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Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Which is the better story? 

Thought maybe after my quasi philosophical ramblings yesterday it might be worth mentioning a bit of the mundane.

Have been fighting a cold for a few days now which is a bit harder here because they don't stock my favourite OJ... surprisingly and all the stuff you can get here is really sweet which I hate. Am considering getting some vitamin tablets as I also have quite dark rings around my eyes don't like them much either but sometimes you have to do things you don't like.

Have almost finished all my marking which is a huge relief and now have about a week to plan the mental health clinical placement which is the next major thing on my work agenda. I'd just like to send a big RESPECT out to all the teachers in the world who have been marking for years and I've hardly ever heard any of them complain. I;m sure their spouses cop a bit at times though.

Had a culinary adventure when I cooked steak for Suhad who is the head of the OT department and also a GARGB, a post graduate qualifications that a few people including myself have in general all round great blokedness. I'm a bit suspicios of the meat here so am not too tempted to eat it even medium rare and also the butchers here don't know how to cut meat for steak. Any tips on which part of the cow are best etc would be greatly appreciated, apparently eye fillet doesn't have any accurate translations.... bugger. Marinated it in worschetshire sauce, garlic, onions and chillis and it went down a treat, will have to try again soon.

Am off to Sylet on Thursday which is in the north of Bangladesh. Heading up with a bunch of the other volunteers so it should be a bit of a hoot, will head back on Sunday with Patrice who has been up there helping with the CBR placement.

Was so bored and distracted at work the other afternoon that I made a whip out of piece of string and a ruler, colleagues think I'm crazy but I think they had that pretty much sussed from the start.

Gotta go, almost ifta time..... hmmmmm ifta

Just realised that my title seems a bit cryptic after having written this post, actually wanted to hear from people who have read "life of pi" have had a few interesting discussions with people here about it but would like to hear what the rest of the world thinks.
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Sunday, November 02, 2003

Ramadan 

Well one of the many wonders of the Muslim world is upon us and I must say it's very interesting. All of the Muslims are now fasting from sunrise to sunset. This means that nothing can pass your lips, even water. I am not actually observing the fast myslef which means that I have to go and hide in teashops with curtains over the doors as eating or drinking outside is considered insensitive to people who are fasting. Then at about 5:30 every day as the sun sets it is ifta time. This is special food that is taken to break the fast and is quite a community celebration. As we were heading into Dhaka last Thursday night at around ifta time it was quite a spectacle. There were groups of people eating together all over the streets. On the highway there were cars pulled over so that they could break their fast together. The other notable thing that happens is that everyones office hours change so that there is only half an hour for lunch and everyone finishes early. It is untold what effect Ramadan has on productivity.

This kind of thing makes me wonder. I guess a lot of the press recently in Australia has portrayed Muslims as extremists and fundamentalists who are very interested in doing lots of bad things and are generally bad people. This has not been my experience. In fact I really envy the sense of community across a country that can be generated by the vast majority of the poulation participating in something like ramadan. No one would ever think of breaking the fast on their own and even though I have not observed the fast myself I have been invited to share ifta with lots of different people. These sort of whole community activities seem to be a thing of the past in our modern fast paced individualistic society. I can't imagine Australia having any community event that meant everyone had to change their work hours and most people probably wouldn't be able to work to their capacity for a month. But i guess it comes down to different values. I think that in Australia we have been sucked in to thinking that as long as the GDP keeps going up and interest rates stay down that the country as whole prospers. But there is a bit of research that indicates that quality of life in Ausralia hasn't improved in about 30 years. In this time the old days of chats over the back fence have been barred by the building of 8ft coulourbond. We are working longer hours and spending less time with the people we love. And while those of us who are lucky enough to have good jobs and be earning a good living have it ok, those of us who are unemployed, disabled or mentally ill have it worse than we ever have. The gap between the rich and the poor keeps getting bigger. This has been exarcepbated in the past few years by the public liability insurance going through the roof which has led to many community events being forced to shut up shop as they can no longer afford the insurance to go ahead. Things like fetes and fundraisers. In fact it's getting to the point where unless you are a large corporation with a large financial backing it is hard to do anything. I though democracy was about government of the people by the people and for the people not of the corporations for the corporations and by the corporations. The worst thing is that the bastards have most of us tricked in to believeing that this is what we want. Never before has Australia been as spirtually bankrupt as we are today, even the modern church is akin to a large corporation who is about providing a service for a fee (maybe slightly cynical). I'm not saying that Ramadan is the answer for Australia but it is definitely eye opening to be in a country where relegious and community activity is given higher priority than the almighty dollar.

If you've made it this far thanks for reading my rantings.
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