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I'm home

Written by Antje on October 27th 2012 20:55

I’ve now been in my new home at the LAMB hospital since last Wednesday. Wednesday itself was a public holiday because of both a Hindu festival and also the yearly Muslim day of sacrifice (27th October), so a large number of inhabitants took the opportunity to travel to their family. I too had chosen to travel on that day since the language school closed for the week and I could make myself useful at the hospital here.

Starting with Wednesday: all in all, considering that it was a very long journey, it went OK. We had tickets with reserved seats and it was a deluxe bus, and so there had been only five more tickets than seats available sold. The five men sat near the driver on the bonnet. So we really had our 2 seats to ourselves, and no chickens pecking our necks or other passengers on our laps.

But actually getting to that bus in the first place, however, is quite another story. I had actually never travelled there by bus before so I didn’t actually know from where the bus would set off in the first place. Our own driver from the Dhaka office was on holiday so we had organised another car with a driver through someone who knew someone who would be willing to take us. The bus station was on the west side of the city and we had been staying over on the east side. The roads were pretty clear, so we got off to a good start. It started to go awry when Ria, the Bengalese teenager who I was travelling with, saw a sign of the bus company we were going to travel with. She’d gone herself with the bus quite often but obviously had never taken much notice. By the time she’d seen the sign we’d already passed it, so we had to turn back (dual carriage way with a concrete central reservation, so we had to make a detour to try again). The second time past she didn’t see the signpost but the third time we managed to stop in time. With profuse thanks we got out of the car. The driver was a little irked and drove off immediately. When we asked at the office it turned out that in fact we weren’t actually at the right place at all. The building we wanted was a few kilometres further down the road. This explained why Ria hadn’t really recognised the office in the first place. I’ve now learned that you need to ask the driver to wait until you are really sure that you have arrived at the right location. Time was by now getting on and we were right close by to the place from where everyone was going to depart. The road was by now incredibly busy. But finally we managed to find an empty taxi with a very amicable driver who dropped us off at the right place and checked himself that it was so. 

Eventually the bus left at 10am but it went so incredibly slowly. We were stuck in a traffic jam of mostly buses and it became obvious that although cars are very popular in the city, outside the centre of Dhaka people mostly take the bus. Over in the other lane there was also a jam of mostly trucks full of cattle. For the day of sacrifice on Saturday people in Bangladesh really do buy a cow or a goat which is slaughtered during the festival. 16 Million people live in Dhaka, of whom 80% are Muslim, so that means an incredible number of cows. We finally arrived at LAMB at 11pm (another advantage of taking this bus it that it stops right outside the entrance). A journey that had taken about five hours longer than the usual eight hours.

I’m now occupied with settling into my new home. During the festival days I’ll also work a couple of gynaecology shifts. Next week I’ll start surgical work. I’ll keep you up to date.

Traffic jam going in the opposite direction at the place where we got on the buss.

 Ik ben thuis_100_0680.jpg
If the bus is really crowded, you can still buy a roof-space .....

Ik ben thuis_100_0684.jpg
Roadside maintenance on a cattle truck. I saw hundreds going towards Dhaka. The reason the photo is so sharply in focus is that we were also not moving.....