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Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Happiness 

Well it’s been a long time since my last post and that is for several reasons. The first is that I have been pretty busy with work and the second is that life has settled into a fairly normal routine and so to me it doesn’t feel like there is that much that is interesting to write about. I’m sure this isn’t true but Bangladesh just feels like home to me. I guess I realised how much I’ve changed in the last 18 months or so when I went to the airport to meet Gavin and Christy, 2 new Australian Volunteers who have come to CRP. On the way back from the airport while we were crashing along bumpy roads and dodging in and out of rickshaws and other assorted vehicles I was sitting sideways on the seat in front of them leaning against the window so I could chat to them along the way. It was great to see the looks on their faces as we weaved along the crowded streets, lots of near misses and always something interesting happening everywhere. It took me back to when I first arrived and everything was new and fresh and exciting. The sensory overload is unbelievable. There is so much noise and so many people crowding the sides of the narrow roads, women in bright coloured clothes, men in lungis carrying impossibly heavy looking loads on their heads, vast fields of rice interspersed with the tall chimneys of brick kilns pumping black coal smoke into the already dusty air. Bangladesh is truly a country of extremes. From the poor day labourers and factory workers to the rich businessmen. From the overcrowded, deafening, maddening traffic jams of Dhaka to the quiet and peaceful rivers of the Sundarbans and the rolling hills of the tea plantations of Sylhet. This is truly an amazing country and it’s easy to forget that in the frustrations of the daily grind. One of my colleagues told me that in an international study it was found that Bangladeshi people were the happiest in the world. This may sound incredulous to some but I can believe it. People here don’t find their pleasure in material possessions. The vast majority of the population don’t regularly partake in drugs and alcohol to relax, here people are what is most important, especially the family. People here find pleasure in the simplicity of living and it is a very beautiful thing to be a part of. So many people in Australia look to the next thing for satisfaction, the next promotion, a better paying job, new curtains, a new TV with surround sound and spend so much time pursuing these things that they turn their backs on the people in their lives, the very people who have the ability to bring them true happiness.
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Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Fun Fun FUN 

Well my favourite part of the year has begun again in ernest. This is the 3rd year students psychiatric placement at the National Institute of Mental Health. I don't know why but I feel quite comfortable in mental hospitals, maybe it wouldn't be so much fun as a patient, but I guess that depends on how much insight you had.

The placement has been knocked around by the current political situation and in 10 days of placement so far there have been 6 Hortal (strike) days. These are generally called by the oposition parties and enforced violently so going into Dhaka is generally not a great idea. We've managed to get a bit of work done in CRP but nothing beats the real deal when it comes to psychiatry.

So generally that's been keeping me busy, have still been managing to have a bit of fun but when I'm going to Dhaka it's an 8 O'Clock start and we get back about 2pm and then I'm often in the office til 7 so it makes for long days but it's all part of the fun.

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