Posts

Showing posts from October, 2007

By the river...

Image
Pictures thanks to my room-mate Jeremy.


Rickshaws and Red Bull...

I now have a Rickshaw-wallah of my own... my own personal rickshaw driver to get me to work and bring me home, to take me sight seeing around town, to ferry me back and forth wherever I like at whatever time of the day or night I like. And it's only costing me a small fortune. Compared to what I usually pay rickshaw-wallahs, not compared to what I earn back home, of course...

The next step is to buy a rickshaw or two. Read the following for a better understanding of the magnitutide of the contribution rickshaws have to the economy; "Pulling Rickshaws Out of Poverty".

On another note, I have been in this country for 31 days. That equates to 31 days without Red Bull... painful, veeeery painful...

4 Thousand Words...

Image

1 month in... a brief recap...

Today is the 22nd of October... I left Australia exactly 1 month ago...

The night before I left was a mad rush of activity. Final checklists were made and ticked off, financial affairs were put in order, my precious books, cds, electronics and shoes (in no particular order) were dusted and covered. I couldn't help but wonder if I was a little crazy for leaving everything behind...

Once sufficiently satisfied that I had in fact packed everything I needed (sterile needles, an assortment of medecine, water purifying tablets, a torch, my Glaciers shorts...) I put on my finest "Big-time" (thank you Krissan) outfit, which of course involved the all-white Avirex jacket, and headed down south to support LockDown one last time...

What a great night... the boys didn't make the finals, but the routine, and the crowd reaction, was absolutely incredible. It was a source of great pride to see how far the crew had come.

I returned home quite early, however sleep escaped me. I rare…

Ramblings...

Image
Some people just switch off when things get serious... it's a frustrating fact...
Yes it IS so much easier to just act as if you're proactive and yes it IS so much easier to discuss the topic in broad terms rather than commit to details...

It is getting quite difficult at work. We are trying frantically to secure some funding. I might have to dig out my aces sooner than I had hoped.
On another note, yesterday was the Durgha Pooja, a Hindi festival. We had a fantastic afternoon and evening in Old Dhaka, on the river, joining in the celebrations.



Streets...

Image
My Street.


My office is on this street, on the right hand side, behind the rickshaw.


The river, next to my office.

A Moment...

Quick memory; 2nd week in Dhaka, stuck in heavy traffic, it's hot, humid and polluted... I hear thumping bass... i look around, can't spot where it's coming from... couple minutes later, I hear it again... a car pulls up next to our van... two young guys, windows down, system up... bumping "Pump It Up" by Joe Budden... of all the songs in the world...

3 Thousand Words...

Image

Balling in Bangladesh...

It would be so much easier to come home.

So much easier to leave this place, leave the responsibility, leave the pain and the suffering and the constant stench of rotting and sweat and feces.

So much easier to not have to deal with the poverty, the homelessness, the severely disabled, the orphans, the diseased, the malnourished.

So much easier to go back to my big house in the right suburb, my new car with expensive gadgets, my comfortable, well paid job on the top floor with a window seat.

So much easier not to have to be here.

So yes, I do continuously ask myself why I’m here…

The answer is pretty simple, really; I play basketball in the afternoons at the Gulshan Youth Club, which is just a soccer field surrounded by a wall. There’s a tennis court and a basketball court tucked in the back. Garbage, organic waste and feces surrounds the basketball court. There’s a little boy who lives in the corner. Not on the corner, in a house or an apartment, not even in a tent or a make-shift shelt…

Learning Honor and Pride...

I started reading the Kite Runner today.

I have never been so touched by a book before…
Hosseini’s prose is so familiar, so at ease, it feels as if I am being told a story by a brother, a story we have both shared.

Honor and Pride. I’m up to chapter 12, where a key description of Pashtun men is honor and pride... not so different from Persian men, then.

I’ve tried to live my adult life by these two ideals. In truth, I cannot say I have been very successful at all… That is not to say that I have not had my share of proud moments; moments I have had the courage of my convictions, moments when I have relied on my pride positively in order to have an impact for others benefit… yet I know those moments have been fleeting. I understand now the source of my mother’s seemingly constant frustration at me; though there have been glimpses, I have never shown a constant resolve in standing for something, in “growing up”, to borrow from a previous post.

And yet time is not lost. These last few wee…

Growing Up... sort of...

Image
I always wondered when and how it would happen... That moment when I would "leave my childish ways behind", so to speak.

I'm in a developing country, well, more honestly it is an extremely underdeveloped country, working hard on quite serious projects within an NGO which has a large international presence and reputation, living with similar professionals, all with outstanding academic backgrounds and equally impressive positions. We have been chosen to represent the country as "Youth Ambassadors", and have been placed in one of the most challenging countries possible.

And yet I still count the hours until I get a chance to play a little ball... I still miss my car, with its dvd and entertainment system... I miss my clothes, my books, my xbox... I think about when the latest NBA Live game is being released... I see a motorcycle in the street and am constantly tempted to get one over here...

So exactly when do I grow up? Or have I just been under the wrong impressio…

Answering Questions...

Image
There are quite a few questions being asked on a regular basis, so here you go:

"Why Bangladesh?!"

I didn't specifically choose to come here, rather I was offered the position, evaluated my skills in relation to the assignment, and accepted based in large part on the great need of this country.
Wikipedia Entry - Bangladesh
Poverty
AusAID Info


"You must be getting paid a lot to be there!"

No. I'm not. I left a very well paid job to be here.
The Youth Ambassadors program is voluntary. We are paid a living allowance, not a salary.
Allowance Schedule

"Will you come back to Australia?"

Not sure why so many people keep asking me this... I'll be back October 2008, soon after I hope to further my career overseas. However I'm not planning anything; my success rate in planning is down to a miserable 10%. (Yes, I'm keeping score. For the record, the last 'planned' activity I had was to buy mosquito nets. Yes, I've resorted to aiming low.)

"W…

Dealing with it...

It’s raining today.
Sometimes heavily, sometimes just drizzle, but quite constant.
I came home this afternoon to more work; our monthly services account was due… and we’ve only been here for 2 days…
The gas no longer works… after 1 day…
The washing machine… what a nightmare… an hour to fix the tap…
The internet service they are offering is awful… and very very expensive. So I asked the building manager, who doesn’t speak English, to refund our deposit and not bother… he then informs me that the 6000 taka we gave has been divided between him and the “house agent”, so he can’t refund it all until the agent gets back to town after Eid…
To top it all off, I’m going to have to pull an all-nighter because of all the work I have to do in a very short period of time…

And yet, I’m still happy to be here. So far.

Update, 9pm.

It’s torrential now.
The streets here flood after only 5 minutes of rain; the effect of these last 2 hours of rain is starting to worry us…
We’ll see what the morning brings…

Important Links...

Image

New Apartment, New Job, New Challenges...

There's a hole in my wall.

Granted, it's where the air conditioner is supposed to go, but I already busted this month's budget just on fans and a bed, so an a/c is completely out of the question. The hole does pose a concern, however; mosquitos, ants, spiders, and last night a tiny albino iguana, often come to visit, have a chat, shoot the breeze...

We don't have any furniture yet, nor curtains, nor internet... but we do have mosquito nets (essential).

Work is amazing. I was so nervous coming into this position, unsure of what would be required of me, so now knowing my position (Resource Development Associate) makes a big difference. My duty statement involves identifying donors, securing funding, establishing working relationships with local and international organisations, and examining the potential for further programs throughout the country, and if time permits, establishing those programs.

My colleagues are wonderful. Very warm and accomodating. Calling each oth…

Learning

This is from a few days ago...

It's 8 in the morning. We're in a 3m x 6m room. The air-conditioning is Spartan-like in its efforts to cool the room.

It's really heating up now, the air is thick with smog and sweat. Ramadan has slowed the population down; the pace of life will only increase between 5pm and 6pm, in time for Iftahar.

We're in class trying to learn Bangla. As a group we're finding it difficult, but we plow through regardless. I'm feeling somewhat frustrated at my skill level. I love the friendliness and directness of people who have the courage to approach and ask me questions. I just wish I could converse for more than 20 minutes in Bangla.

Although I have only seen a little of this city and very little of this country, I can understand how people fall in love with this crazy place.

Settling In

I've found an apartment!

Finally, my room-mates and I have decided on a nice 4-bedroom place in Gulsan. It's a great open plan apartment, with ample balconies and light...

I have also found a local basketball court. My sanity will remain intact this year.

I met my supervisor and counterpart today; I am now more enthusiastic than ever to dive into my work.

I can't say that I have really absorbed the fact that I wil be living here for a year. It still feels somewhat like dream. However, that has not curbed my enjoyment of the positives of this city.

So much for my 5-year plan... yet I'm convinced this is a much better path than that which I expected...

Loving Life

Image
I really wish I could provide you with an accurate representation of what life is like here...

I just spent the last 45 minutes speaking to my hotel receptionist, talking about travelling, life, the Bangla language, our histories... the warmth of people here is astounding...

It's not hard to see why people fall in love with this country.

Today I finally found a basketball court. I say finally, because despite being in the country for only 5 days, I feel like I have been here for months. To be outdoors at 8pm playing streetball with the locals and still have to endure 30-centigrade weather is truly a task.

My pictures will hopefully give you some idea of my experiences here. I should not though that I am desperately missing my family. That is not to say that I am not enjoying myself; rather I believe my newfound contentment has also caused a revaluation of my previous situations in life, and as such... I miss my family.

And I need a better camera...