Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Uni of Sydney we love you 

Well wasn't I surprised to get by both snail mail and email on approximately the same day some info from the uni saying that I was supposed to be in Sydney for a research presentation, interview and something else. I felt like asking if they were planning on flying me back for it. They also sent me a form which I am supposed to fill out my self, show to both my supervisors for them to complete their sections and then send it back to me to sign. So considering that my supervisor is currently in the US, my associate supervisor is in rural NSW and I am in Bangladesh how long to you think would be a resonable amount of notice to give someone to organise this. I bet none of you guessed a week... that's right. One week. I would have thought that a university, allegedly full of academics would find it hard to be this stupid but I am just as surprised now as when I was an undergraduate. Lucky my supervisor is on my side.

The other exciting thing that has happened this week is the beginning of Ramadan. This is the month where if you are a good muslim you let nothing pass your lips from sun up to sun down and a few other things. The idea is that it is a month of discipline and sacrifice. I like it in theory but I think in reality it's a bit more like lent where you get people giving up little luxuries that they obviously can live without. Never seen anyone do anything serious like give up alcohol for lent or anything like that. It's always like chocolate or a funny one we had here earlier this year which was fiction. oh the sacrifice.

I guess at least here, for those who follow it there is a severe physical consequence of not eating or drinking during the day and then getting up in the middle of the night to eat. This is a physically demanding exercise which those who complete you have to give some respect to. There are some people here that I've talked to who really consider it to be more a time of discipline in all areas of your life which has become focussed on food and I would tend to agree with this but it doesn't mean I won't be mingling and partaking in ifta which is the breaking of the fast at sunset. Rock on ifta.
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Monday, October 11, 2004

weddings, parties, everything 

Never a dull moment. This is the phrase that most aptly describes Bangladesh. If it's not one thing it's another. For example last weekend was not only my good friend and colleague, Rimon's, last day in CRP (he has got a 2 year working visa to Ireland and a job as an OT), not only did Faruk (another colleague) get an excellent job working for Handicap International, reducing our teaching capacity by 2 fifths, and taking a good chunk of experience with them. As if all that wasn't enough Bangladesh, like a spoilt child never wanting anything to ever be paid more attention than it, decided to turn on a tornado. As always this was caused by a depression in the Bay of Bengal.

I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before but any bad weather here is always blamed ona depression in the bay of bengal. Rain, hail, wind, whatever, depression in the bay of bengal. This has been clear to me for sometime. One thing that has only become clear recently is why none of the newspapers here contain a synoptic chart. Having been brought up on newspapers and TV weather where the synoptic chart is a daily item of conversation it has baffled me that a country of 140 million did not seem to have anyone who was interested in looking at highs and lows and how they were moving across the country, how close the isobars were together where they were posed over the country and what that meant about the proposed picnic on Sunday. I'm sure by now you either know exactly what I'm talking about or are completely lost so I'll get to the point. Why would you care about a synoptic chart when the only weather pattern of any interest to anyone is exactly the same all the time. You can imagine a couple of people here looking at a synoptic chart while staring out the window at the driving rain and howling wind and saying exactly what they do anyway 'have a look at that depression in the bay of bengal' if you know what the synoptic chart would look like by looking out the window, what do you need it for in the first place?

Well enough about the weather. I'd like to send a big cheerio out to Poppa 90 not out on the 10th October, Grandma 81 not out on the 11th and Frieda, 28 not out on the 13th, and whatever you do Frieda don't pop on your birthday or before. It might seem cute when he's just a wee tacker but it will much nicer if when he turns 18 you can have a nice birthday dinner for your birthday before he goes out with his friends for a few quiet ales for his birthday and is a bit worse for wear for the next four or five days. Happy Birthday to you all and have a piece of cake for me.
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Tuesday, October 05, 2004


Well it's that time of year again folks when the fourth year students embark on their biggest and toughest challenge yet. I've been working pretty hard this year to try and diversify the definition of occupational therapy here so it focuses more on the psychosocial aspect and less on the physical stuff. It makes sense that OT here is a lot more physical as when OT began they basically did activities that were seen by other health professionals as being worthless. This was obviously not the case but to get some professional respect it was a given that they would have to take a more medical approach to treatment. One of the problems that has created is that now some of the students and staff find it very difficult to explain the difference between physiotherapy and occupational therapy. To me it's fairly obvious a physio will give you the strength and range of motion to move your limbs as much as possible and an OT will turn that into dressing, feeding, washing, working, and whatever else it is you need to do to get through the day. So that's my rationale for trying to push the students away from the physical stuff and more into the psychosocial domain and some of the topics are great. I am supervising four students and I'm pretty excited about them. One is being done at the National Institute of Mental Health where I will be collecting my own data later on and it's on progressive muscle relaxation for decreasing anxiety for people with schizophrenia. Another one is using a depression assessment and comparing the results on that to the results of the functional assessment that is used here. Another student is looking at the effectiveness of educating CBR workers about occupational therapy in terms of them identifying a role for occupational therapy in their workplace and the last one is looking at how people with disabilities can be better prepared for flooding.

I get the feeling that in the year or so that has passed I've learnt a lot about the culture here and don't get me wrong, you could still fill the ocean with what I don't know. But I think I've got a better handle on what is required for OT here to develop. The students need to see it for themselves which hopefully they will when they complete their research. I also have a lot more respect from the students and I think I've managed to find a happy balance between being friendly with them and kicking them in the arse when they need it. Actually I was just thinking the other day about something my grandfather told me about teaching years ago and I have never forgotten. That was that sometimes you need to appear to be angry with students to get a result but if you are actually angry then you're only hurting yourself. So grandpa I think I've finally cracked it, cheers.

It's funny because although this is the busiest time of the year I think it's the time I enjoyed the most in the last 12 months. There's somehting about being really busy all the time that I like. I think I work better that way because you just have to do things when you have the time. I also like working one on one with the students. I think they get a lot more out of it and I do too.

Despite the fact that this is a big month and there are lots of things I'm missing out on in Australia. My poppa's 90'th my older sisters birthday and the last month or so of her pregnancy I am still really happy to be here. The only thing I'm wondering is hopw at the end of all this I'll manage to leave?

end note: if there are any technicalities or terms used in this email you didn't understand and would like explained leave me a message in the comments section and I'll try to help out.
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Saturday, October 02, 2004

Grand final time 

Well there's good days and bad days in Bangladesh and fortunately of late I have been having more good days than bad days. Last Thursday was one of those days when for no particular reason I was in love with Bangladesh and everything in it. This has continued on into today. I am going to try and combine voting with the grand final as it just makes sense and I really don't like not seeing the grand final. Although I do have some comment on the changing of the time. It is obvious that sport is now about TV and money, there is no other possible explanation for having a game of football on a Sunday night. I used to really enjoy the days when we would get home from church in time to watch all three grades. This gave you a good feel for how clubs were performing across the grades and also the opportunity for some young players to strut their stuff on TV. Some of those games were fantastic to watch as well. But now the money machine is turning and Sunday night is the night where nine thinks they will get their biggest ratings and probably more people watching other programs around the game. Anyway enough whinging I'm having a good day.

The new youth ambassadors are fantastic, a really nice bunch of people who I am looking forward to getting to know. I always enjoy meeting new people and it's something I get to do quite a lot of here. It's always sad when they move on but it keeps life interesting having a steady stream of people coming through. Surprisingly most people who come to Bangers are pretty decent too.

Anyway have to duck off to a volunteers meeting so will write more soon....
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