Sunday, November 16, 2008

3 Months In

Three months ago, I left Memphis. A third of my time here is over. After my meeting at ICDDR, B...I pretty much waited to see what would happen regarding work since Dr. Azim and Dr. Rahman are good friends, it was up to them as to where I would ultimately work. Marci, Hans, Sara, and Reaz finally came back to Nepal...didn't think I would miss them so much after only a week. On Thursday, I went to dinner with Ana and Emily, who I haven't seen in so it was great to catch up with them. Talked to Ana about going to to public health, and what I should do for next year. Afterwards, I went over to Reaz's, where I ate a second dinner and got to see all of the pictures they took in Nepal and heard their oh so adventurous stories. Kind of sad I missed out...oh well.

Friday I went to New Market, which is super far away, to take my Puja clothes to the tailors. To make me 4 dress sets and fix two blouses cost 650Tk, which is about $9.30. Pretty sweet deal. We went and ate at Pizza Hut afterward, which is a totally different experience that it is back home. The Pizza Hut is huge (there is a much larger one in another part of town), and it seems like it is considered as a place for a nice dinner. I couldn't stop laughing.

Not much really going on. Everything is starting to work itself out, I think. I finally met with Dr. Rahman, and it seems like if I stay at IUB, then I would actually get stuff to work on. Kristin is moving in tomorrow, and this upcoming week is actually pretty busy. I can finally start writing things in my calendar. I've missed that.

Oh, and I fell out of a rickshaw today onto a major road. Haven't seen a single accident since I've been here, and then I was involved in the first one I witnessed. I wasn't sure whether to be angry or just laugh. I did the latter, but then realized the enormity of the situation as my ankle started hurting so badly that I couldn't walk very well. But, I'm glad I didn't die or majorly injured...which sadly, could have happened as there was oncoming traffic. Guess I'm lucky.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Promise on the Horizon

I am in my new (but temporary) apartment finally.  I'm not getting attached since I will only be here for a month, but it's nice to finally have a place to come home to.  A few people went to Nepal for the week, and as much as Hans tried to figure out a way for me to go with them, I decided it would be better to stay in Dhaka and adjust to the new living situation.  But then I realized that I would be all alone for an entire week!  However, Ana emailed me telling me she met a girl who is looking for a roommate.  Excellent, just what I was looking for!  I was given Kristin's contact information, and we met up at the gelato place in Banani on Friday.  She is great fun to be around, and hopefully everything will work out regarding housing and such.  Good thing I didn't go to Nepal, or I might have missed out on this.

I haven't found a cook, so my uncle has been staying here and cooking for me.  I think it's interesting; my mother always told me that Bengali guys take pride in not being able to cook.  Now I think she's only talking about my dad.  My uncle cooks really well, actually...and we've had some interesting dinner conversations as well, one of which I will share.  Somehow, we came to the topic of female/male relationships in Bangladesh.  Apparently, there is no real concept of "friendship" between girls and boys here; even though it may start out that way, 99% of the time, something sexual is implied.  Of course, this shocked me as several of my good friends during college were boys, and I will always know that those relationships will be platonic.  But that doesn't happen at all here.  A boy will befriend a girl, and then will pressure her into something more.  To stop him from his incessant pleading, she finally gives in.  But the other thing is that these relationships are looked down upon in this society, I feel like.  If a boy and girl are seen in public, both of them will get harassed about it later, whether it be from other friends or family members or whoever.  There is so much restriction that everything is done secretly.  And of course, I think that's dangerous.  Any thoughts?

I finally had my meeting at ICDDR,B.  What a huge hospital!  I was a little frightened at first because there are patients lying in bed in the entrance.  It looked like the pictures from one of those advertisements you would see on late night television asking you to donate money to some third world country.  I guess it very well might be in a commercial.  I kind of cringed, watching the mass of patients in the open room.  The idea of privacy does not exist.  And to imagine that this is an internationally renowned hospital, and the conditions are like this.  I can't even think about how the other hospitals are like.  Regardless, I had my meeting and hopefully if all things go well, I may be able to start work there.  In a different wing of the hospital, I had my meeting in a lab that looked like it could have been at Vanderbilt or any other university in the States.  

I remember when I was applying for the Fulbright, I kept reading the word "independent".  I realized in the past few days that they were not joking about that.  I am lucky that I have few family members here, but other than that, this is really the first time that I've done anything on this magnitude by myself.  I have no idea what I would do if I didn't know any Bengali; I feel so lost sometimes with the Bengali that I do know.  I have moved three times in 2 months, with another move to come.  For the first time, I have made a set of friends from scratch and have used public transportation in a foreign language.  I've found an apartment on my own and am searching for a new job.  None of things I have ever had to do, as college was just a place where students are spoon-fed and absolutely everything is handed to them directly.  I am pretty proud that I am getting around just fine; I'm almost impressed with myself.

Now that everything finally seems to be working out for the better, I am going to be more focused on getting outside the Gulshan & Banani area of Dhaka and explore outside territory.  I think it's about time I get to know this city.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Sick and Homeless

I'm going to try to keep this short.  This is late because I've had no access to internet for the past couple of days.  Last week I was pretty sick, first with some sort of coughing illness and then some thing went wrong with my stomach and everything was achy.  One doctor said it could be typhoid, even though I got my vaccine before I left.  I'm not too fond of healthcare here.  I'm feeling a little better, but it was just annoying having to find an apartment and be sick all at the same time.

This is was the first year in my entire life I didn't celebrate Halloween, which is probably my favorite holidays.  I didn't have a single piece of candy.  I didn't even think about candy until way after midnight, which made me feel really old.  But we did have a fun movie night instead.  

For the past few days, I've been staying with one of my second cousins who was nice enough to let me in until my housing situation was fixed.  I must say, I really don't understand this country sometimes.  I finally got an apartment (so I thought), met with the owner, signed a contract, did everything...had plans to move everything in the next day, THEN, the owner says that I can't move into that apartment for some reason.  It was the weirdest thing ever.  I still don't quite understand what the situation was.  So now, he has to move me into another apartment in another building for one month, and then will find me another apartment to live in for the next 5 months.  I don't know.  I just want to be able to take my clothes out of my suitcase.  That's all.

Anyway, I'm happy about the result of the election.  Ok, happy is such an understatement.  I woke up super early on Nov 5th, and I was just glued to the television screen.  I think it is so interesting that the world is so dependent on American politics, and thus everyone everywhere is actually very knowledgeable about what's going on in our country, maybe even more so than many Americans themselves.  And how little Americans know or even care about other countries.  But Bangladeshis seems excited about Obama.  I am curious to see how well he executes his plan.  

Enough about that.  I'm not going to write anymore just because I'm still not feeling well and there is not anything too exciting to write about.  But, as always, please update me on your lives as I am always interested in what's going on with you!