Sunday, July 25, 2004

Too tense to type 

Well am sitting here watching the scores come in over the internet for the raiders warriors game and have already chewed all my fingernails off and uttered a few words that are probably not appropriate given the context of the CRP computer room. Score currently 29 all and about 1 minute into extra time. Had to start writing this for something to do in between the updates which only come once a minute.

Well I can breathe again now, Clinton Schifcofske just kicked his second field goal in 3 minutes to get the raiders home. What a champion and a well needed win for the raiders.

This week is pretty busy as I am now teaching about 12 hours a week and 2 of the courses require complete rewriting so that takes up a lot of time. On top of that I need to finish off a draft of my ethics proposal ASAP and Kirsty from the university of sydney arrives tomorrow to discuss student placements and links between U syd and BHPI. As if that isn't enough we may be playing a gig on thursday night which would be good as I promised Kirsty the best that Dhaka night life had to offer which is obviously AIB and tequila, actually it works better for everyone if the tequila comes first.

Flooding is getting worse in our area and the main highway to Dhaka has apparently got a bit damp, am pretty sure there is still traffic flow though and we are not under ourselves yet. Will be interesting to see what happens as ther water here is still rising rapidly and close to 2 thirds of the country is flooded. Many parts of dhaka are flooded and also flowing with sewage as obviously the drains no longer have any outlet. This is a major concern as water born epidemics are hard to prevent under these circumstances. If possible pray for no rain, at least over here and also in the Indian Himalayas.

Anyway lunchtime so need to lie down to get my heart rate back to normal!!

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Monday, July 19, 2004

Hot or not 

Well it's been quite a week here in Bangladesh the country of opportunity and possiblity.
I spent a few days in bed last week pretty crook but had to drag myself into Dhaka on the weekend as it was Rhodri's farewell and Derek's birthday. The farewell was pretty sad and I still wasn't feeling too great so I stayed of the turps but the real fun was to be saved for Friday.
For Derek's birthday the goal was clear and simple. Get as much media attention as possible. This was made easier by the fact that derek had written a song in english and bangla called keep dhaka tidy. With witty lines like "don't you know a dead crow in the road is bad for youe health" and "pissing in the street that's for stupid people".
Alison hired a rickshaw van, could also be called a rickshaw ute and made us a picnic lunch and we cruised around some busy parts of dhaka playing and singing on the back. We stopped at dhanmondi lake for a bit of lunch and a quick performance and then made our way towards new market. When we were playing there must have been at least 100 people watching, but unfortunately the press didn't arrive so the only option was to continue on. We proceeded to Dhaka University and then to the press club, where, despite the late hour and the fact that it was a weekend, 3 photographers and 2 journalists were found, the song was sung, photos were taken and interviews were given. Now I am well famous in CRP having appeared on the back page of the most popular paper in Bangladesh and allegedly on the television last night. Am also quite sure that people think I'm crazy.
In other exciting news I have been accepted into the Masters program at the university of Sydney. For those who don't know the details, while I was supervising the psychiatry placement at the National Institute of Mental Health late last year and early this year, the director asked me to conduct some research into the effectiveness of occupational therapy in mental health. After some discussion with friends I decided that if I was going to do the work then I might as well see if I could get some kind of qualification out of it and after some to and fro with the uni I managed to put together an application. The main work will be in designing a culturally appropriate occupational therapy program for the hospital and then evaluating the effectiveness of it when compared to patients who only receive medical intervention. It will be a lot of work on top of the teaching load that I currently have but I am looking forward to the challenge. Hopefully it will also be beneficial for occupational therapy profession in Bangladesh.
The other funny thing that began last weekend was my quest to become the hottest man in Dhaka. Some clowns here have set up a website called Dhaka hotties, it's quest is to find the hottest men and women in Bangladesh and I believe that with an international campaign I can definitely be right up there. Now you must remember that this is purely for humour and that is why when you vote for me you must give me a perfect 10, it is the only way to guarantee that I make the top of the list. http://www.dhakahotties.com is the site and if you search by my user name which is hqeter you are sure to find a great picture of me pulling a rockstar face at the BAGHA club. Thanks for your support. 

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Wednesday, July 07, 2004

One year anniversary 

Well it's hard to believe it but it is one year to the day since I arrived in Bangladesh. I guess in some ways I can believe it. I now know a little bit more Bangla, can confidently navigate my way around Dhaka, by bus, taxi, rickshaw or foot. Am beginning to have some understanding of how the system works and who you need to talk to to get certain things done. However it still feels like the time has gone quickly.

It has been a pretty busy week after all the excitement of last weekend. As was pointed out by my Mum, there was no mention in the previous post about the state of the Rickshaw driver, so just to make it clear, he was fine. Everyone seems to have basically recovered from their bumps and bruises which is lucky. It could have been a lot worse.

So on Sunday night I headed into Dhaka to be a guest star on Derek, our drummer's, weekly radio show called tuning into development. This is basically a one hour show about foreigners in Bangladesh and why they have come etc. They also play some of their favourite music and talk about their favourite moment in Bangladesh. So the guests were myself and Tom the other member of AIB. Sow e both talked about our work and then played a few songs unplugged. This show should be available on the internet within a week or two so I'll make sure I publish the link on this site so you can have a listen if you're interested.

Monday night went to a colleagues house for dinner. This was particularaly funny as I have been to his house before and I had a terrible experience eating about fifty pieces of fish so I could pratice the technique to avoid bones this with the whole family watching on to their great amusement. It seems they remebered me as there was only one kind of fish this time and it had very large and easy to remove bones. People here truly are kind.

Anyway it's in to Dhaka to watch the state of origin which should be a great match, I really enjoy being able to see some league live, it's so much better than watching the scores come up on the internet.

Bnagladesh is a cool 28 degrees today with the humidity right up there as it is raining. This might sound hot but actually this is quite temperate. Thinking of you all in the big chill back home and as nice as it is here I do miss snugglibng up under a doona on those chilly canberra nights.
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Sunday, July 04, 2004

Four seasons in one day 

Well as promised here is a full report of the gig on Thursday but just to give it some context I thought I would also describe some of the incidents leading up to and following the gig.

The afternoon started in an interesting fashion. For some reason I cannot possibly understand I was given the responsibility of taking five new female volunteers shopping. I thought this would at least give me some way of filling the afternoon instead of just sitting around being nervous or sitting at the bar. The shopping trip was relatively uneventful and although few purchases were made the ladies now know the location of the shops where nice things can be purchased.

The next mission was to get to a bank. So this raised the question how do you get six people to the same place when only one of them knows where that is? Being bangladesh the answer was quite simple. Hail a cab and all pile in. Six plus the driver... it's been done before and I'm sure it will be done again. Bit of a sqeeze and required some flexibility on my part when the driver wanted to use second gear, thank goodness bangladesh is flat and doesn't require any hill starts or it could have got interesting.

So all cashed up we arrived at the BAGHA. All the sound gear was set up but none of the other band members had arrived so I hung with some of the crew from CRP and had a couple of beers. Not long after Tom and Derek (back from the dead) made their appearances. It turns out Derek didn't have dengue but some other kind of thing that knocked him over for a few days. He was still tired and sworn off the grog but keen as ever to play. After a quick soundcheck we all ordered some food and had a lovely dinner together... a wonderful bonding experience.

By about 9:30 we were ready to go on. The BAGHA had decided to make up for their appalling effort last time of paying us nothing and put a bar tab on for us while we were playing which included beer and tequila. Apparently in Dhaka there is a quantity of tequila which must be consumed by any band and preferably their audience to ensure a good performance. Me and Tom and Derek started out with some of our quieter numbers which were well recieved. Then Tom and Nick set about some folky classics and reggae numbers, towards the end of the set me and Derek joined in and everything seemed to be working well. I think we were all a bit more relaxed having played together before and being a bit more familiar with the material. The sound also seemed to be a lot better which always helps.

After that we really started to rock out a bit and the crowd was up and dancing. The highlights of the last set were definitely the cover of Nelly's It's getting hot in here and Britanny Spears Hit me baby one more time. Tom went all out for the later number donning a skirt and a blonde wig to get everyone in the spirit of things. We managed to just about have finished playing by the time the soccer started and even the old BAGHA barflys seemed to be enjoying themselves. Have made a promise to myself to never practice before a gig again as this seems to work pretty well.

The night pretty much could not have been going any better except there was still the problem of four new female volunteers (one had headed back earlier) who had no idea how to get to CRP. Now under other circumstanmces I would have left this up to someone else as I was really in no condition to take care of anyone but in the absence of other options I stepped up to the plate and said I'd get them home. This basically meant there was no chance of me getting bacon for my breakfast the next day which is always hard to cop. It also meant no post gig debrief with the other boys at the BAGHA. But these are the sacrifices we make.

So we grabbed a couple of rickshaws and headed down the road to find a cab. Everything was going fine until for some reason I decided it would be hilarious to reach out and grab another rickshaw that was close to the rickshaw I was on with a young lass from Cambridge. Unfortunately in doing this I managed to knock her out of the rickshaw which then proceeded to run over her with me still in it. The force of the collision with her tipped the rickshaw over which landed me on the road as well. She was pretty shaken up and has quite a sore back and a small cut on her face but should pull through, I only had a couple of scrapes and bruises. Must admit though that it will take a while for the guilt of being such an idiot will fade. Not the smartest thing I've ever done. Although was very glad with the effort of the new guitar case which barely sustained a scratch and kept my guitar safe and sound, best $250 I ever spent.

So we got to Gulshan 2 which is where you can usually catch a cab and it was completely deserted. So we were about to settle in for a long wait when who should drive past but the Duke. You may remember him from previous posts as the owner of the Privelege club where we played our first gig. He gave us a lift to his club where he organised one of his friends to drive us back to Savar. This was a pretty lucky turn of events considering what had just happened as I'm not sure how long these girls would have lasted in Dhaka in the middle of the night waiting for a cab to turn up.

So anyway, many apologies later I reckon I'm still in the dog house... fortunately she's only here for another month... but she seems to be alright about it now. Not sure if she's just putting on a brave face but there's not a great deal I can do about it now. Some of the girls here reckon I should buy here something nice to apologise, I suggested a rickshaw but they thought that this was not in good humour.

Shame to end such a good night in such a bad way but that's life sometimes... four seasons in one day.
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Thursday, July 01, 2004

AIB strikes again 

Well it's that time again where four otherwise unrecognisable development workers in Bangladesh are transformed from being just another bedeshi hanging out at the BAGHA on a Thursday to tequila fuelled rockstars... Although I can tell I'm not a real rockstar because on the way to the gig I have to take some new volunteers (surprisingly female) clothes shopping. Not that I mind. It should be good for a laugh and I haven't done any hard bargaining for a while and I always find this easier when it's other people's stuff I'm bargaining for. Still I must admit that taking 5 girls shopping is not my idea of heaven, maybe taking 5 girls to the beach or somehting like that but not shopping. Being a veteran of almost 1 year has advantages and disadvantages.

The other problem is that at this stage I am not sure if we have a drummer ot not.. I think in my last post I said that he had the dreaded dengue, but it appears at this stage that was not the case he just had some other nasty bug. So here's hoping that he's kicked it enough to hit the skins for a few hours.

Anyway full gig report to follow....
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