Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My Trip to Gaibandha

I took a rickshaw all by myself to the ICDDRB and bargained him down to a reasonable price! Booyakasha. At the ICDDRB I met with a few doctors who had previously done work with drowning in Bangladesh. They gave me good advice on the conflicts I might expect. Women think that their children drown due to evil spirits so when they find their unconscious child, they will often swing them over their heads to get rid of the evil spirit.

I said goodbye to Dhaka and all the people there and made the 10 hour journey deep into rural Bangladesh. My driver did not speak English very well so our conversations were mainly me looking something I wanted to say up in my phrase book, saying it, him repeating it and smiling hugely, answering, and then silence.

The drive was incredibly bumpy and the buses swerving out of our way at the last second made my jaw hurt from clenching so much. So I looked out my window rather than the front.

The country passed by with intense heat, smells, accented with garbage. Clearings would show vast rice fields with women hunched over with babies at their feet. Men stared into my car and when I made eye contact they returned it with such fierce intensity, without trace of humor. I try not to make eye contact.

I stopped and took lunch at a sit down cafeteria that served me Dhal and endless rice. My driver didn’t join me because he was fasting for Ramadan. I prayed to my own God of Road Safety that the fasting wasn’t hindering his driving.

People live in tin slabs propped up as shelters or in straw huts. An old man wore a shirt that said “You want me, don’t you?”

When we got to Gaibandha, my driver said “You have arrived!” I looked around and saw only rice patties. “Jiva is that?” I said pointing to a rice patty. “NO, No ahead,” he said laughing as if I said the funniest thing in the world. Language barriers have reduced my humor to a five year old’s.

The faculty house: 2 stories, filled with rooms to sleep in. There is one conference room with round table, one tv room with TV and two ancient work out machines, a kitchen with dining room table, and a backyard with a garden.

My room has a desk, a chair, a bed and a few night stands. I have the suite room because I’m staying for so long and get my own bathroom. There is a brilliantly powered AC. My purple mosquito net makes me feel like a pretty pretty princess. I have a white lizard in my bathroom that I have named Fred.

I met the other resident, a doctor originally from Mongolia, who is going to be living her for two years. She seems very nice and had to finish dinner early to meet her Bangla tutor. I want one of those!

I unpacked, downloaded another book on my kindle (I’m averaging a book every few days), and settled under my net. This place may drive me insane. But if I can break through the insanity and hold out, I think it’ll be the best experience of my life.

I flossed tonight for the first time in years. Because what else is there to do?

Asalam Walaikum,



  1. what are you reading?
    loving the story so far...

  2. I just finished both Monique and the Mango Rains and State of Wonder. Both amazing. Now I'm re-reading Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya sisterhood because I find it so comforting.