So long, farewell…

Today was last full work day. We wore our Bangladesh cricket jerseys in honor of the big win in Chittagong against the Netherlands!

Took our last photos, finished up reports, backed our bags and they are so heavy we have no idea how they can be lifted–speaking for myself that is. Some of the weight just might be due to the fact that I have a small bag of brick chips from the Hospital construction site so that I can have a bit of Bd at home. I will put them around some plants outside.

At this point, we are routed home through Japan (Tokyo) and of course that is a little disconcerting. When we get to Bangkok tomorrow night, will check with Delta on our options. All of Asia is on alert now, altho not so much yet in Bd.

I’m tired, ready to be home, dreading the grueling trip home, and also once again leaving a little of my heart here. This will probably be last entry unless there is some time in transit, but usually internet availability minimal. LIfe is a journey, and this trip is a significant chapter in my life.

Published in: on March 15, 2011 at 11:44 am  Comments (1)  

Please, join us for a little snack…

Big night in Chittagong. THe Cricket team won and I think that means they advance to another level. Next games are in Dhaka, and no more in CHittagong, so the crowds were soooo excited! And because there is very little public use of alcohol here, it is all very festive and celebratory in a nice but veerrry congested way!

We were invited tonight to visit a benfactor of the hospital. His home is only about a 10 minute drive, but because of the total traffic gridlock, it took an hour–but we got to see how excited the young people were–crammed into buses, sitting on top of trucks, walking along the roadside. What was a two lane road had at least 5 lanes of traffic going in multiple directions! Because we took back roads to avoid the traffic, we also got to see neighborhoods, with many people out mingling.

The benefactor’s home is really a castle. So lovely. The first room we were in had 3 large couches and two easy chairs and they were not close together and only occupied a portion of the room. THe furnishings and finishings were tasteful and comfortable and out of a magazine! After some visiting, we were asked to join them for a “snack”. (I will put photo on FB). The table which was set like from an interior design magazine had at least 12 dishes, all traditional Bangladesh goods and were they ever good. We had grilled prawns that were 6 inches long and 2 inches wide and they were so tasty! It was amazing. They were so nice and gracious and have been significant supporters of this hospital projecty and here they were thanking us for helping their country.

What an honor and privilege this work is–and many thanks to my family and friends for their support of me (in so many ways) and this work. Tomorrow is last working day. It will be hard to leave, but also ready to be home.

Published in: on March 14, 2011 at 11:50 am  Comments (1)  

New way to chop garlic…

But not one I am going to try anytime soon! Sometimes we have to take a shortcut through the hospital clinic on our way to our work area each day, and it is sooooo interesting. It is very clean (but very open air), but very old. There is a large stove on which there are always kettles with boiling water or oil. Men attend the stove.

On the floor are women: they take sliced garlic and use a roller in what sort of looks like a painting container that you use a roller with. She rolls and rolls the garlic until it is a paste. The smell is great!

Another woman was on the floor slicing potatoes and she had a very unique way of doing this that involved a big knife and her foot and hands!!

Have photos of these. JUst incredible. Later in the day I had to cut through the kitchen again, and some of the kitchen workers were taking a nap on a rug on the floor of the kitchen. Humbling and inspiring at the same time.

Published in: on March 14, 2011 at 11:35 am  Leave a Comment  

Traffic and modes of transportation

There are many ways, some quite inventive, that are used here for transportation. I posted some pictures on FB today. PHotos cannot begin to describe the density of the traffic and the controlled (!) chaos of the moving vehicles of many types not to mention the throngs of people everywhere.

We are absolutely 100% the only Americans we have seen, other than one whom we had an appointment with–so as we take pictures of people and activites, sometimes they are taking pictures of us!

Published in: on March 14, 2011 at 8:10 am  Leave a Comment  

Collaborating with the Local Economy

I am now the proud owner of a Salwar Kazeem, the traditional Bangladesh dress–3 piece. Professor Husain’s wife insisting on making this a gift, along with one for my traveling companions. Quite an honor, so look for me to be decked out Chittagong style when I get back home!
(think photo here of ustrying on clothes in Aarong store)

Another shopping find was Cricket jerseys. World Cup Cricket is hosted by Bd, and today declared a holiday for schools and some businesses so people could watch the match. I am wearing a Bangladesh Cricket jersey as I write this. (Think photo of Chris at desk wearing jersey!) Reaz, Professor’s son, attended the match on Friday and also the match today. He had total laryngitis from the first match, so he has a whistle with him today!! It’s like Superbowl Mania and then some and with many more people in the streets. Small stadium (by US standards ~ 2500) so many people in the streets and at home watching on TV!

We found many lovely things to purchase–I exhibited quite a bit of restraint, but my colleagues succumbed to the gorgeous textiles!

Last night, Mrs. Husain and a relative who is a second year medical student took us to the Chittagong National Trade Fair (which you can read about on the internet). It comes once a year and has MANY stalls, is VERY HOT AND HUMID, and a sea of people, sights and sounds. (Think very colorful picture here). I got a lovely Cashmere shawl. One colleague got a gorgeous bed cover and shams.

Go Bangladesh!

Published in: on March 14, 2011 at 8:04 am  Comments (3)  

Lots of work and lots of progress!

Well, looking like this might be a photo-less blog. Can get photo to upload, but when inserted into the blog, just word gibberish comes through!

So, this will be a narrative. Backing up to Thailand, had a great time in Bangkok, visited Bumrungrad Hospital which was very impressive–met with corporate CEO from there. Had some authentic Pad Thai and Tom Yum soup, and once again, Tuptim Restaurant in Ann Arbor is very close to what I have had in Thailand! Did a little shopping at the endless markets, took a boat ride to the Watpho Temple, home of the Reclining Buddha and I was just very tempted to give that guy a pedicure, but not sure what polish color would look best on his 12 inch gold toes, with mother of pearl inlaid pattern on the soles of his giant feet. Very impressive and put coins in a long line of special offering bowls, and I know that inner peace is coming my way soon!

Ate at an Indian restaurant in Dhaka, very nice, but the multiple mosquitos were a little distracting.

Short plane ride and arrived in Chittagong which is also decked out for the World Cup Cricket matches. Arriving at the guest house was like coming home.

Published in: on March 11, 2011 at 10:44 am  Comments (5)  

A spotty tale

I am covered in spots (slight exaggeration, but there are MANY). They started on my face–mainly left side, but some on right-then neck. Didn’t itch, didn’t look or seem like bites, but very noticeable.

Now there are spots on my arms and legs, and they are defiitely bites. One on the palm of my hand–you know how hard those are to scratch. Those who know me, know I will take pain any day over itching–only other thing that makes me this nutty is getting overheated, and of course that too happens here.

Ideas for resolving this are welcomed!! So far, it is only me now, altho our 15 y.o. team member (who is now back in USA) also had this experience!!

These spots, and now seem to be bites, just appear–no bugs in site. I took a big breath and checked the bed–couldn’t see anything. DIdn’t use mosquito net (and there are some mosquitos in the rooms, but we usually kill them) cuz it sits on the bed which might be the source…

Today, I got a new mattress and pillows, and lots of bug spray was used. I should add that I have been spraying myself with DEET and this is still happening. I am trying very hard not to get pre-occupied with this. THe spots do compliment the hideous hair for quite a professional, not to mention fashionable appearance!

Published in: on March 11, 2011 at 2:12 am  Comments (1)  

Flash vs flush and travel girls–???

We have been working long hours and visiting the hospital buildig site, which is so impressive (think many photos of site here, including their technique for plaster, the infrastructure is brick with plaster on top, no drywall, bamboo for scaffolding), then studying blueprints, making changes, having presentation for vendors to IT, Kitchen and laundry supplies and have had quite a few chuckles along the way!

Yesterday the engineers and architects were asking did we want flash commodes or floor commodes? I kept asking, “flash??”, and they would repeat “yes flash or flush”–finally with a photo we were able to discern that flash was flush (no one uses that nasal “a” like us midwesterners”, so we had a good laugh over that!

Later we were talking about recruiting for staff, and where we might do that. Had a lead on a trade school but turned out to be more for very limited people from the tribal Hill Tracts to learn a trade. We also talked about potential nursing students from the Hill Tracts, and they were being referred to as what sounded like”travel girls” to me. Of course I’m thinking traveling nurses, does that exist here –doubtful since there is a profound shortage of nurses, and finally I figured out it was “tribal girls”–another good laugh.

Published in: on March 11, 2011 at 2:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Dhaka is ready for the Cricket World Cup!

Once we arrived at Dhaka airport, even before the visa problem was resolved I noticed how beautified the airport was–and as it turns out–the city–all for the Cricket World Cup which is being hosted by Bangladesh. HOpe to get some jerseys to bring home! Beautiful welcoming signage (I put one photo of sign on FB ), blue and green hanging lights at night.

We stayed at the Quality Inn in Dhaka, where we finally could get some internet access. Food very good there, they fixed a special dinner just for us, because usually they do breakfast only. At breakfast I talked with an Aussie who bred and raised and showed dogs, and he enjoyed seeing photos of Mr. Cooper. He has a goldendoodle now and he too can’t believe he succumbed to a designer mutt mix–and paid for it!! BUt they love their dog.

In Dhaka we visited 3 hospitals, reputed to be western standards, and they were very helpful to see and learn about. Came away much more confident about what we will be recommending and how it might work. Everyone we met with was extremely generous with their time with us. Met a delightful pathologist at one hospital who is US trained, and he had very impressive laboratory services and Blood Bank. THere is not a centralized Blood Bank in Bangladesh that we can find, so each hospital does their own donor blood draws and most are directed donations. Altho, the physician in Dhaka that we talked to knows every employees blood type and he twists arms for donations! When we asked how he went about establishing and maintaining high standards he said: Praise, Punishment and lots of repeating and repeating!

We had dinner at a very nice Indian restaurant (other than the mosquitos which were many), and had our first exposure to Paan, from the word pān (Hindi: पान, Urdu: پان) is an Indian/Pakistani and South East Asian tradition of chewing betel leaf (Piper betle) with areca nut and slaked lime paste. Most paan contains areca nuts as a filling. Other types include what is called sweet paan, where sugar, candied fruit and multi-colored, sweetened, candy-like fennel seeds are used. These we also had after dinner at a restaurant in Chittagong and I posted a photo of me trying this on FB. Once was enough.

We had a 6 pm flight to Chittagong, which is only about 45 minutes, and I slept!! Arrived in Chittagong to also see beautified airport! Got our luggage–huge amount for 5 people, and went outside to the car, only to see hundreds of military folks everywhere, standing at attention. We were pretty sure it wasn’t a greeting party for us, and in fact, it was a because the British and Bangladesh cricket teams were arriving!

The drive from the CTG airport to where we stay is always an experience! So many people, just ending work, stuffed (literally) into small buses and many people walking–amidst the chaotic traffic with tuk-tuks, rickshaws, trucks and cars. It actually is not as chaotic as it feels to us western folks. These people are picking up food after work for their dinner, getting their haircut, selling their wares, visiting with friends, etc. It is a tropical country so it is all outdoors and remains pretty active until about midnight I think.

Arrived at the Chittagong Eye Institute and Training Center (CEITC) safe and sound and glad to be “home”. It was great to see the staff, most of whom were here for my May 2010 trip. Shipon, the wonderful cook, told me about wearing his Red Wings shirt!!

We settled into our rooms, I am room 7, we are on a different wing, same floor, from the May visit. It is so darn grueling getting here, but the people are so kind and caring and generous with their time and attention and love for their country, that it feels so humbling to be offer some assistance for them. It can be very overwhelming, the need vs. the ability to make a difference but just thinking about what Professor Husain has done to eradicate preventable blindness in the country gives us hope and inspiration that we can indeed help them commission a western standard hospital.

Published in: on March 11, 2011 at 1:57 am  Leave a Comment  

A photoless blog…how boring!

But I think I must give up on the photos. Now the IT people at the hospital and have worked on it and installed some ACDSee software that has not seemed to make a difference. Sigh. Big Sigh.

So…back to Bangkok. We stayed at the Indra hotel two nights where I sat on the edge of a ledge of a lily pond and got my tush quite wet! (think photo of Chris with the wet bottom here). It did help me stay cool, tho and it was hot and steamy in Bangkok. THe beginning of the hideous hair look! Waaaay beyond bad hair day!

There was a lovely breakfast buffet on the garden level with traditional and western choices. The fruit was great. (think photo of garden terrace with view of the pool)

We visited Bumrungrad Hospital, which is a JCI accredited hospital, and it is indeed very western. Quite fancy and had a McDonalds and a AU BOn Pain–we did not indulge! Before and after the hospital visit we visited street markets–did not find a lot to buy, but amazing sights and sounds and smells. Great having a 15 y.po. with us, because his memory is so good, and he never got lost or turned around!

We also visited Watpho, which is the temple of the Reclining Buddha. (Think many photos here, and I put one on FB). There was a log row of pots, and you put special coins, one in each for luck, and you can be sure I did that. There must have been 30+ bowls. We had an adventurous boat ride on the Chao Phraya River to the temple. There was lots of water spray, and getting on and off the boat was tricky–often the water level several feet below the dock, and sometimes the dock was a floating (make that bobbing up and down) dock just to make it harder!

Hot and tired we returned to hotel and ate dinner there where I had Pad Thai and Tom Yum soup, and they were excellent (think pad thai photo here) and JUST like Tuptim restaurant in Ann Arbor.

No internet at the hotel, so feeling a little isolated from home at this point. There was a business office with computers and exorbitant prices to use them and it kept kicking me off, so not much done there.

Flight to Dhaka on Thai Air very nice. FLight attendants in traditional dress and food was hot and pretty good. I still didn’t eat much of it, but presentation was very nice, and just before landing, all the women got an orchid to wear. Nice touch.

I posted earlier re: airport adventures. I am thankful everyday that it got resolved–that was a little too dicey for all of us! We all keep each others spirits up when the frustrations mount.

Published in: on March 11, 2011 at 1:27 am  Leave a Comment