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.

1 comment:

Lauran said...

I am happy to read things are getting better for you-I just saw Camille last weekend in DC and I am happy about that as well.