Forth diary entry for the Disability Awareness Documentary Project in Bangladesh

We awoke to a bright sunny day, blue sky and dry paths. But the idea that this might mean lower humidity was a delusion. The day proved hot and sweaty and exhausting – but not without rewards.
There has been a lot of trouble about the Eid hokidays. Since Elspeth and I have to complete our brief in three weeks to have a large part of the middle one gobbled up by holiday is disappointing. Elspeth and the film group, Ahad and others have had much discussion which seems to have lead to an amicable arrangement today. The dynamics have been complicated but the ‘students’ will get Eid and a day or two more on condition that they return with completed story boards and that they locate and study the manual their previous teacher, Loz, so beautifully prepared for them. And where their days don’t overlap the students who are here will get extra teaching and practice.

Ruma, Sobiha and Minu areready and waiting at 9.30 (office hours are from 8.00 am) which is a pleasure and relief since so many things don’t work out as one expects. The day went well, marked by good humour and hard work, as they set up and filmed short clips around the hospital and grounds. There is a great scope as anyone who has been here will know – trees, ponds, buildings, flowers, wide open concrete spaces, small intimate ones …….but perhaps that’s jumping the gun.

But I do love this place (CRP and the bazaar just outside). It is a community in a sense that has largely been lost in the UK. Everyone knows everyone and even in the shops of the bazaar I am making friends with the man who has an international phone facility; with the shopkeeper who sells toilet rolls and honey and note-books; with the vegetable seller and the tailor and the many children who ask as often as they see you ‘What is your name’ and then, ‘What is your country’. There is one special child who asks, ‘Hullo, what is my name’, and I really haven’t thought of a good answer.

Today I have sent my first email but only because Rafad took pity and helped me. Why is technology so difficult? Or why am I so inept? Perhaps part of the answer is that I really don’t mind being off the radar for three weeks. In the past holidays took one away from all the regular hassles (and pleasures), now nothing is further away than a text or an email. It’s a bit like having daffodils at Christmas and brussel sprouts all the year round! The effect is to diminish them. Here endeth ……

Another first today was to try the staff canteen. It was good food but not many people. You pay ‘up front’ so what your receipt says is what the server gives you.I didn’t understand the system so I ended up with a feast of rice, egg, fish, vegetable curry and dhal for 27taka(20p). Tomorrow my dinner will cost about 12p!

Before bed I watched a bit of a weepy film with poppy (Hugh Grant). She must be tough. No tears from her. I should have got some tissues but my una sufficed.

Tuesday morning and I woke up groggy from having taken half a sleeping tablet and felt a bit odd all day.

I met with the drama group at 8.00 am. The plan is that they practice each day from 8.00 to 9.30 on their own but today is the first day so an exception. They were working on sharpening their skills esp. focus and framing by using short dramas. We started on the basket ball court but it was like an oven by 8.30 so they moved under the trees. Elspeth and I figured rather large in these clips to neither of our advantage!

Elspeth has been busy with the great and the good and has found some possible candidates for the film, which is a relief. I did a bit of my blog in the office after lunch but by 3.15 I was completely exhausted (I’m afraid I keep complaining of tiredness) and came back to the flat. I have started to avoid the dogs – Poppies’ pets, who spend most of their days tied up on the front of the house. They don’t look terribly well, Holly looks positively ill and I’m sure they must have fleas. So with my bad experience of fleas I’m making a very wide berth.

I went to the guest house at 4.30 to give Loki my fabric for a salwar Kameez . Am very glad I didn’t just leave it, since she said it was too thin and would be see- through. Not, I think, a great idea for either CRP or Savar bazaar. Shame as it was a lovely colour and design. Anyway she came with me to the fabric shop and we changed it for something a bit more modest. I also got some pink fabric to make a top to go with my white trousers. Won’t I be smart? Well, I certainly won’t be as smart as the beautiful Bangladeshi girls walking around the campus. They look just lovely.

Went to the canteen again for supper and have more or less cracked the system.Rice is 3 taka, dhal is free, Vegetable curry is 5 taka, egg is 6 and fish 9. Its fantastic value, but there is a certain ‘sameness’ about it. One secretly longs for a bit of cheese or chocolate or perhaps even a glass of sherry!

We watched the news on BBC World News and wondered what was happening to our savings. And so to bed.

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