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Saturday, February 28, 2004

so you wanna be a rock superstar 

Well in a country full of surprises the hits just keep on coming. A few weeks ago a few of us decided to put a band together for a bit of fun, in the knowledge that one of our friends new the owner of the only nightclub in Dhaka and he was keen for some new talent. So we had one practice and haven't got together since due to people being out of the country and things.

So anyway, Derek, one of our members, went to meet the owner of this club on the thursday evening when I was tripping down to nejumdwip and when he sat down the manager, known as the Duke, showed him a flier that said we were playing, under the title of "an international band" the following monday night. Since our bass player was in India at the time and our drummer hadn't had a chance to practice it was left up to Derek and myself to appease the Duke and hopefully prevent the necessity for anyone having their legs broken. So we met up on the monday afternoon and worked out what songs we could actually play, which turned out to be a bit of radiohead, some gomez, cake and other assorted tunes.

In the end it went off pretty well. The band members were supplied with free beer and food and a whole bunch of our mates turned out to cheer us on. At the end of the day everyone had a pretty good time and were very kind in their appreciation of our talent (or lack thereof).

It is now the last week of placement and I for one will be quite glad when it is over although I will stil have a lot of work to do it won't involve so many trips to Dhaka and the countdown to my return to Oz has begun. Wooohoooo
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Sunday, February 22, 2004

nejumdwip 

Well i've just got back from the annual Bangladesh occupational therapy association (bota) picnic to, surprisingly, nejumdwip. this is an island in the far south of bangladesh which has only existed for about 100 years. i think it's something to do with being a large delta but it seems that as soil gets washed away from places further upstream it gathers gradually over time in new places and forms new islands.

So we left on thursday afternoon on a bus to dhaka, all 45 of us, to these ghats or quays i'd guess you'd call them in australia which were conveniently located in old dhaka, it took us a while to get there due tothe most incredible traffic jams. Then we climbed onto the launch that carried us down the river. it took about 18hrs to get there and as we were going past the point that the main launch stopped we had to organise a private boat to take us the rest of the way.

The name of the island means silent island and it lived up to its name, it is one of the mroe beautiful places i have visited since I have been in bangladesh. After we arrived we had a quick game of cricket, much to the amusement of the local residents who were enthusiastic spectators. I was a captain and despite doing nothing in the whole game except taking one catch where i fell down a ditch my team won.

After this went for a walk along the beach to do some deer spotting, it was really beautiful walk and watching the sun set into the ocean is something i don't think i will ever get sick of.

Our accomodation was the local school/community centre/cyclone shelter. Cyclones are common in the bay of bengal and because the land is so low and there are no hills, the tidalwaves they produce can be devastating. For this reason the building had legs about as tall as a normal 2 storey building and then the main building on top of that. the roof was also a great vantage point for looking around the area.

For some reason which i cannot explain i was asked to cook a bbq for dinner, as well as the usual rice and veges. This proposal actually started out as spit roasting a whole goat so i think i got off lightly in the end. There were a few problems such as the fat thast the 'grill was litle more than a few thin bits of steel welded together with four legs and was too small to cook for 40 people at a time on and we didn't have long enough to marinate the chicken. The result was something closer akin to charcoal chicken but people ate it dutifully so it wasn't a total disaster. Although next time i am asked to cook i think i will politely decline.

The next day we went down to the beach and played a bit of soccer which was prety funny, i am very bad at this so i cheated alot and tackled anyone who i thought was going to get passed me. This seemed to frustrate the opposition and amuse the spectators who had turned out again, good for a laugh though.

The boatride back was interesting as i had to share a single bunk with one of the interns as we were short of beds, was then woken early by boats running into each other in really thick fog which meant that we got back a lot later than expected.

Was a great trip though. obe interesting thing is that i think the rest of the group we went with would have attracted almost as much attention without a few foreigners, it was really a quite remote place and i don't think it would be possible to go there as a tourist.

Anyway after returning about midday today i realised that i had 29 missed calls. One of these was to tell me that I am apparently playing a gig at dhakas only nightclub tomorrow night which doesn't leave us much time to practice but should be good for a giggle if nothing else. might get a couple of free beers out of it!
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Thursday, February 12, 2004

....it's been a while 

Well sorry everyone for the lack of updates latley but January was a hell of a month. So where to begin.

The main things at work that have been occupying my time are the psychiatry placement which see's me travelling to and from Dhaka six days a week and supervising 4th year research students which is a surprising amount of work. Let's start with the placement.

With one week to go of the last placement group the students have come to me and said they would like to organise a cultural performance with the patients. This means that people sing or recite poems and this kind of thing. So I told them to consider it seriously overnight and we would go and see my good mate the assistant director of the hospital the next day. We did this and he was incredibly supportive of the idea and took us in to see the director. This was aided by the fact that I had some fantastic CRP calenders to give them as a token of thanks for their support of the placement. The director was very enthusiastic about the cultural program and arranged for us to use their conference room which seats about 100 and said he would give us an hour of his time on Thursday, giving us four days to organise the program. Much to my surprise and amazement the event was an incredible success. Both the director and assisstant director came and I think as a result of this many of the other hospital staff attended as well. The program began with a presentation by the students about occupational therapy and what they had been doing during their placement. This was followed by a talk from one of the lecturers about the BHPI and the history of OT in Bangladesh. Then there were a few songs sung etc. and then there were a few talks from the the aforementioned important people. They were all very supportive of OT and talked about the need for OT posts to be created in mental helath to help them develop the service they offer to patients. Strategically this is the place the focus attention as mentla health policy and standards for the country will be developed in this hospital.

Straight after the presentation I went to the bus stop to meet one of my colleagues whose house I was going to for what has been coined by foreigners as scary eid, this is the holiday where animals are sacrificed in memory of when abraham was meant to sacrifice his son but didn't have to at the last minute. This was a great weeks holiday and a much more grass roots bangladeshi experience than I have managed so far. It was really nice spending time with Suhads family and seeing how they celebrated eid. The actual sacrificing was nowhere near as bad as I had expected. Maybe it was because noone else seemed bothered in the slightest by it, or maybe it was because I was a bit sick but I figure I've been a meat eater for 25 years and so many animals have come to a similar fate to feed me. It's kind of good to see the whole process and not just steaks on polystyrene foam tray ina supermarket. Other highlights of the trip were a visit to a village where they weave a lot of silk. A cricket match in which I took a catch to dismiss the other teams best batter (dropped another sitter but you get that on the big jobs), watching a bit of Australia playing against India in the last round match of the VB series and generally just hanging out sleeping in and eating more than I imagined that i could.

The other exciting things that is happenting at the moment is that one of the opther aussie volunteers went to this place called the priveledge club and they have the same band that plays there every week. So we are looking to put a band together to play a gig there sometime in the future. This sounds like a lot of fun to me as there are some other good musos around and at the very least it will be good to have an excuse to play with them more often.

As it's thirsty thursday am off to have a few beers tonight.

Not sure if I've mentioned this already but will be back in Australia for a few eeks in April and early May so hope to catch up with y'all then.

Promise to post more often too.
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