Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Getting bumpers installed on the car.

Given that the traffic here is pretty bad and many cycle rickshaws will use your car bumper as a way to stop, we decided to get bumpers installed on the car today.  These will hopefully protect the car from getting really scratched up, although I am doubtful given the way people drive here.

First I had to pick which bumpers I wanted.  This involved going to the shop and having a variety of different bumpers held up to the car while I decided.  Then I was given a price.  It seemed a bit high, so there was some arguing back and forth and I managed to get the price down to something which sounded more reasonable.  Then my driver told them that they should give me a further discount because I was from the Canadian High Commission.  This reduced the price slightly more.

The deal was struck and they said that the bumpers could be installed right away.  Great.

The bumpers were given to a 15 y.o. shop boy who took them in a cycle rickshaw and told us to follow him in the car.   We followed him off the main road, but into the slum behind.  To this little shop, where apparently the welding would be done. 

Welding took over an hour while I waited in the blazing heat.  Finally it was finished and the welder even jumped on the back bumper to demonstrate how well it was attached to the car.  

We needed to go back to the first shop to pay.  To save time and avoid traffic, we drove up the wrong side of the road to get back to the shop!  The driver waving the rickshaw drivers out of his way as we drove!
The local bumper welding shop.  
I was invited to sit of this chair to wait.  The photos do not capture how hot it was...35 degrees.

Waiting for the car to be done in the shade of the local tea stand.  Current number of people working on the car: 1, number of people watching: 5 
The tea stand owner shows up and opens up shop.  He sells tea, pastries, bananas, and cigarettes. Local gossip is free.
My driver (Michael) is in the background keeping an eye on the welding.

This is what happens when there is no standardization of the electrical plugs....choose your shape.

This sign was to remind you to pay your taxes.  This week was tax paying week, although the exact details were not clear to me.

Working at BSMMU on the oncology ward, doing rounds with the medical team.  

Today I visited the International Diarrheal Diseases Research Centre, Bangladesh (icddr,b).  This is a hospital and research complex which sees mainly patients with diarrhea.  It is world famous for developing very inexpensive and extremely effective protocols for treating diarrhea.  Currently there are about 500 people/day presenting to their emergency room. This hospital is funded by the Canadian Government as well as other foreign aid agencies.

Friday, September 13, 2013

A week flown by!

Doctor's examination room at Traveller's Clinic. 

Travellers' Clinic, I'm working here on Sunday and Monday

Local Paracetemol (Tylenol)

My first day at BSM Medical University Hospital on the heme-oncology ward.    Giving out toys donated by World Child Cancer.  I had nothing to do with the donation of these toys, but I was given the honour of distributing them to the children admitted to the ward!

Children and their parents waiting for their toys!  

At the entrance to the heme-oncology ward at BSMMU a poster advertising last year's workshop.  I will be involved in this December's upcoming workshop to speak about Palliative Care.

Orchid in the wild!

At the tailor, picking fabric for Dan's shirts.  

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The neighbourhood

Lift made out of bamboo at construction site near our place-manpowered. 
Garden at the Canadian Club

Tennis Lessons at the Canadian Club

Looking at the Canadian High Commission from across the street.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Well, a week has already gone by.  It has been busy, but I am definitely feeling settled in.  Our apartment feels like home already. I get more comfortable and confident navigating the craziness of Dhaka everyday.

Yesterday I visited the Travellers' Clinic in the American International School where I will be working. I am now officially on staff!  The email below was sent out this morning to the staff at most Embassies and High Commissions, so I'm sure I will be busy!  There are 600-700 children at the American School.

What's the difference between an Embassy and a High Commission?
A High Commission is diplomatic mission in a Commonwealth country (by another Commonwealth country)
An Embassy is a diplomatic mission to a non-Commonwealth country.
The same applies to ambassador vs high commissioner.

Local park, sponsored by City Bank.  A sign further down the path advertises their Hajj Savings Plan.

What better way to promote your Bank, than sponsorship of this empty fountain?
It is better than the other fountain which is full of stagnant water (and mosquito larvae carrying Dengue fever)...

Local mosque as seen from the window of our apartment.  This explains why the call to prayer is so loud at 4:15am...Although, I've already started sleeping through it.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Monday and Tuesday

Monday I went shopping with Lara again.  This time for clothes and household goods.  I bought a few salwar kameeze to wear.

Monday afternoon I met with Dr. Islam who is the lead for the World Child Cancer project in Bangladesh.  This is the project which I am going to be volunteering with, to advise and teach them about pediatric palliative care.  I will start next week by giving bedside rounds daily with the residents on the oncology ward at the hospital where he works.

This afternoon I am meeting the teams at both the American School clinic and the British High Commission.
New blooms in the park by our house.

Looking north from the lakeside path at Gulshan Lake.

United Hospital where Dan and I are now registered.  While we were there getting our registration cards we were asked to be photographed for promotional materials for the hospital.  We politely declined....

Free medical advice in the park. Really you don't need me as long as you stick to that moderate dite!

Walking to work

On UN Road walking to work

Walking along Gulshan lake on the way to the High Commission

Lakeside path, very nice, but only open from 5am-10am and 2pm-5pm.  

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Weather

The weather doesn't seem to change much here...

The Weekend

Friday and Saturday are the weekend days here.

Friday we went on a long walk exploring our neighbourhood and Gulshan which is the area adjacent to  us.  Things were very quiet and not all the shops were open because Friday is the day of prayers.

Saturday we went to the monthly brunch at the Canadian Club.  The club is adjacent to the Canadian High Commission and contains a tennis court, pool and gym as well as a small restaurant.  The restaurant is open to all Canadians (provided they are registered) and their guests, while the sports facilities are for staff of the embassy only.  We met a few other embassy staff and their families, including several other families who have just arrived.

Sunday it is back to work.  I will be starting work, with some meetings on Monday and Tuesday, so today is quiet for me.

The first few days

We have been in Dhaka for 5 days now.  

When we got to the airport, we were picked up by the embassy staff.  We spent Wednesday sleeping.  Thursday morning I was awoken by the dawn call to prayer from the nearby mosque at 4:45am and couldn't get back to sleep.  We were both awake by 5am, so we went outside and discovered a small park with a walking path along the lake near our house and went for an early morning stroll. 

Later in the day I went our shopping with the embassy Community Liaison Officer.  Her job is to ensure that our transition into life in Dhaka goes as smoothly as possible.  We visited a few food stores and she showed me where it was safe to buy produce, meat and bread.  Each of these items requires a trip to a different store...although all in the same neighbourhood

Veggies and fruit come from a small shop inside an apartment.  The selection is limited but they offer  home delivery.  I learned that most produce, meat and fish you buy here is shipped in formaldehyde which is a cheaper way of keeping food fresh.  Unfortunately this causes the food to be contaminated with formalin.  Even when buying from this vendor, we have to soak all produce in filtered water with bleach before eating it.

The selection of fruits and vegetables is limited.  Currently the only fruits available are bananas, pineapple and papaya.  Lara assured me that there would be a season for mangos, oranges and leechies as well.  Veggies are also limited, although to a lesser extent.

Meat can be purchased from the "German Butcher"  or "White Hen".  White Hen is owned by an Australian who is working to teach locals how to safely and hygienically prepare meats.  Bread comes from a bakery located inside a Korean Restaurant.  There have been many reports lately 

We went to the World Bank to test drive a car which we had been thinking of buying yesterday.  We are happy with it, so we are going to buy it.  It's a 2006 RAV4, it's better to be a bit higher off the ground as heavy rains can lead to several feet of water on the streets.  We should have the car by the end of the next week once all the paper work has gone through.  For now we are getting around on foot, as we can walk to the Canadian High Commission and getting rides from other people.  Now we just have to find a driver....

The Good Life
Some great things that I have discovered about Dhaka so far:
1. Home delivery.  Almost anything can be delivered to you and for cheep or free.  Plus once you have a driver, you can ask them to go pick up whatever you want.

2. Tailoring.  If you have an item of clothing that you like, you simply bring it to the tailor and they will make you an exact a copy.  This also applies to handbags and shoes.

3. Cooking/Cleaning.  Hiring someone to do this is incredibly affordable.  I'm hoping that the cook will also be able to teach me how to cook bengali cuisine.

4. People. Overall people are very friendly and helpful.  You don't get hassled much and when you say no people will leave you alone.  There are very few issues with crime.

View out the car window as we were driving to the World Bank to look at a car. The windows of the car were tinted, so the sky looks much darker than it was. 

Driving to the World Bank.  Traffic was very light because it was a weekend, so it only took 30 minutes.  

There are tons of auto rickshaws (called CNGs) here.