Day? Who knows? – Our Goodbyes

Aaliyah

Finally, back home! After a gruelling 24 hours we have both made it home safe. The flight for me was the same as any other, torture but we made it. The last few days in Bangladesh were a whirlwind from thinking we were staying until the 7th of May to getting an email at 9pm on Tuesday night saying we had a flight the next day. This was great news as we both ready to leave but I’m a stressor so this send me into overdrive while Imogen was bothered about the last meal she would have before leaving. I guess there was no reason to worry as all went to plan other than the hour delay.

The last 2 months have been an amazing experience and I truly believe I have learnt lessons I’ll always remember and for that I’m grateful. The few entries I have done have been after strong encouragement from Imogen but I’m glad as it has given me a chance to reflect on my time at CRP. Imogen has been my partner in crime throughout this and I think we made a success out of it. I would hate to feed into your ego anymore but I’m glad that out of all the people I could have shared a room with it was you.

In the end I might have complained a lot as my food cravings grew but aside from this there was nothing to complain about. We met extraordinary people and made amazing friends meanwhile doing what we love which is physiotherapy. The sense of community and gratitude people show is so refreshing to see and I’m sad to have left as CRP became a home away from home. I’ll always remember my time there and hopefully go back sometime in the future. If you’ve read any of the previous posts you should understand why everything we have to say is so positive.

First day back home- I get the sense lockdown restrictions will be gradually lifted soon and I’m glad cause after only one day I can only imagine how bored I would become this is evident as my mum has redecorated my whole house. Today I went on a 10km walk and yes, I made sure I didn’t break any rules. I realised I am going to have to relearn what it’s like to be in a different environment as the harsh wind and woodland areas seem unfamiliar to me but are definitely welcomed.

Since I’m certain this is my last post I’ll say bye for the second time, I hope it has been worth following and does justice to the truly magnificent place we have just spent the last 2 months, Aaliyah.

Imogen

With 8 weeks of Bangladeshi culture tucked under our belts and packed into our suitcases this time we really were going home. Though we had our doubts right up until the moment we took to the sky following a two hour delay, we touched down in London Heathrow in the cold and drove home at what would be 3am for Bangladesh and some would be getting up to have their morning meal. Whereas last time I felt I was being dragged back kicking and screaming, this time I felt like I was placidly following a lead-rope. This time also seemed much better suited to the last: the covid-19 situation was finally under control and risk of catching the virus much, much lower, the chances of our favourite activity of WC basketball recommencing was slimmer than slim and the patients would also be heading on their merry way. Furthermore, I think that we were tired of card games and the ease of companionship would probably have got more difficult only making our last memories not quite at the same level of excitement as before.

What was a shame was that I was still developing other rapports on other wards, especially since I’d been told only the day before that ward 1 would be mine for the time being and I’d gone out my way to drag out all their notes and read up some more on their history. We were also starting to get the hang of the language too, although Aaliyah felt she didn’t know enough to try (even though she taught me all the new words), I ploughed through the laughter and jokes at my attempts and was even beginning to use the future tense. All I needed was a better memory for learning verbs and understanding would be in sight.

This time when we left it was a little more stressful. I spent the entire morning cooking up every item of veg or edible that was in the fridge which was no small feat considering we expected to stay until the 7th. I’d also been rationing some dates to try and reduce my kitkat intake and instead ended up eating about 100g worth in one sitting. We ate a whole loaf of toast with a veg, tomato sauce, stacked up with the remaining butter I hadn’t used to make a packed lunch for the airport. Aside from the fact the turmeric infused papaya I’d made leaked and stained the car seat yellow, it was very successful and I realised we’d also just got to grips with Bengali cooking, especially since the night previous Aaliyah had made some amazing chapatis/roti.

Following this, we’d had very little time to rush around all the wards seeking out our goodbyes and confirming friendships to at least be maintained on Facebook profiles. I left desperately hoping we wouldn’t return because I gave possibly the most awkward hugs I will ever experience but I didn’t take it personally because it was only for my benefit and I wasn’t even sure if Islam allowed single men and women such contact! At Halfway Hostel, Aaliyah, Abu, Al, Son and I all played two final games of Corbridge and after Aaliyah and I also passed away the time at the airport with Banana (which attracted quite a crowd) and dominos, the Bangladeshi games ceased.

This has been an experience to last a lifetime and has given greater clarity to my goals and personal expectations of myself and my abilities. Working as a physiotherapist abroad as given me a broader view on our own system in the UK and has shed some light in corners of healthcare practice perhaps overlooked. It’s helped me to strive to achieve my best in order to bring out the best in other people during their rehabilitation and a time in their lives they perhaps feel cannot contain any good. It’s also provided me with the motivation I perhaps felt I needed to take my practice further in order to contribute to developing countries like Bangladesh. Maybe I will return (and Aaliyah, hopefully) to Bangladesh as a qualified PT to give more advice and contributions to avoid the earlier frustrations and barriers we’ve encountered.

Had there been no lockdown or covid-19, how much difference would it have made? We had 3 weeks remaining and we would also have completed our second placement. Perhaps the cultural side would feel more fulfilled as we still needed to explore Cox’s Bazar, Chittagong and Sehylt. So, I guess that settles it, we’ll have to return.

Until next time, Bangladesh and thank you.

Our final photo in Bangladesh
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