Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Ho Hum Muh Oh

So the thing of it is, it gets lonely here sometimes. Not devastatingly, I’m not devastated. But I miss you all. And I miss all of you I haven’t met yet. I want to meet new people and having thrilling new conversations. I want to hold someone’s hand and I want to flirt. But I’m not devastated.

I applied for a job today to be part of the Emergency Response Team for the International Rescue Committee. Be ready to deploy with 72 hours notice for 9 months out of the year. Absolute proof you don’t need to join the army to see the world and have adventure. You just need a $60,000 dollar education.

Maybe there should be a rule about updating the blog when I’m feeling morose? I don’t know, you tell me.

I find that I get scared about the safety of my family more here. Because there’s an ocean (or a few) it’ll be that much longer for me to get to them if they’re in hurt.

Ok one more thought circling my head while I drink this peppermint tea and write with my electric bat in one hand killing mosquitoes.

How in the HELL am I going to FIND A JOB? Because I’m looking and I’m trying and I’m not getting any hits. And the scary/exciting thing is, once I get a job, I’ll be going away for another few years.

Maybe I’ll just join the circus.
Monday, February 20, 2012

The Trial

The IRB approved my project and I am now officially in the 3rd week of the trial. The days are long and I come back at 4pm caked in dust and eat my lunch. At first it was all very sexy. I would put on my helmet, get on the back of a motorcycle and travel into the village TO STOP THOSE BABIES FROM DROWNING!!!

If there were a ride of Bangladesh if would be on a rollercoaster shaped like a motorcycle. Speeding fast through the rice paddies AND QUICKLY SWERVE TO MISS THE GOAT and skidding on some mud/cow dung AND STOP SHORT FOR THE COW and drive fast enough so the children don’t jump on with you AND WATCH THE RICKSHAW.

One day I moved a little too much and Momotaz and I fell off the motorcycle. It was scary and a bit traumatizing but we’re fine and finished the day on motorcycle.

And don’t get me wrong, Public Health will always be romantic, but the trial has lost some of its shiny. The base stations we deployed are encountering all sorts of technical difficulties, making false alarms and discouraging the mothers from the bracelet use.

We pull up to a household. Coughing from the dust, covered in mosquitoes embedded in our clothes and take numbers and questions and observations from the mothers. But a lot of the mothers are not pleased with the intervention. Something I have worked on for 6 months. And who can blame them? Can you imagine working hard in the field all day, cooking dinner, finally putting the baby down and that stupid alarm that that girl from America installed goes off waking everyone up?
But I’m keeping my head up. It’s all science and this is what science is—messing up and re-doing and hoping to come out a winner.

In better news I went to India for half an hour today (visa issues), during which I bought some sweets, heard a Krishna band, and saw three transvestites in sarees.

Much love,

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Great Wall

I may have paid $20 to get my underwear and socks dry cleaned. Communication was a problem in China.

On my last full day in China I went on a hired bus to the Great Wall. First we stopped at the obligatory Jade factory tourist trap. It was beautiful but extremely overpriced. I decided not to get any jade on this trip. If I buy too many wonders of the world I'm going to get jaded at 23. (see what I did there?) Better to savor one treasure per trip and this trip it was definitely my pearl necklace.

My group was 3 Canadians, two Egyptians, one Scottish and one Irish. And all of us were so excited to see one of the 7 wonders of the world. (This will be my 3rd wonder, but who's counting.)

The Great Wall was very long.

I hate to be a hater but that was my main observation. It took over 2000 years to build and every few meters there is a watchtower or a signal tower. Today with satellites and infrared technology we would never think of making such a rudimentary defense system. China built a wall to keep out a country. Millions died making the Wall and it didn't even work that well. It is beautiful though.

We head back to the city after 2 hours of climbing up and then down the Wall. At night I met up with the Scott and Irishlady and went to Hou Hai for a last dinner: duck of course. Hou Hai is an entertainment district with old chinese houses converted into bars. We settled in someone's upstairs living room, ducking under the roof beams and settled on a couch near the window. We were the only people upstairs. We drank White Russians and watched China pass by below.

Before leaving on my jet plane the next day I went to the Forbidden City. Mau's face loomed over the entrance 2 basketball courts high. I rented an audio guide and wondered around the rooms and hallways of the great palace. The halls had fantastic names: Hall of Literary Glory, Hall of Tranquil Longevity, Hall of Abstinence (which was right next to the courtesan quarters.) My favorite was the vast courtyard used for the strict morning meetings. I pretended I could see the Emperor addressing row upon row of rapt soldiers.

I ate one last lunch of dumplings and went to the airport. The Kunming-Dhaka part of my trip was cancelled so I would have to spend the night in Kunming. When I landed at 2am in Kunming no one knew who I was or how to take me to the hotel. Finally a bus came and drove me through a part of Kunming where police were posted on every corner and a homeless person was seriously perched over a garbage can fire. (An image I thought was made up for Broadway plays like Rent.)

The hotel had cigarette butts on the floor of the lobby, no elevator, people screaming at each other in other rooms, stains on the crumbling walls and most crucially no internet. No one in the world knew my flight was cancelled, no one knew where I was. I needed internet to reach people. No one at the desk understood me. I stood there at 3 am and started to cry. Got in touch with someone on the phone from China Eastern to pick me up again and take me to a hotel with internet. When the bus driver came all he kept saying was "You go to sleep now." And pointed at the hotel. I couldn't communicate and it didn't help that I was now laughing and crying at the same time. It was attractive. At 4 am I was in a new hotel and at 6 am got up to go to the airport to get on my flight. Rinse and repeat for 2 more days of cancellation.

I am now back at home in Bangladesh. Until next time China!