Nearly there

More pouring rain today which means the traffic crawls at an even slower pace. We made our way to two more of the three communication units that are key to the planning and implementation of health, population and nutrition communication strategies in this country.  It was a day of courtesy visits and final preparations, logistical and other pre-occupations with protocol.

Protocol here is a very serious affair with lots of prescriptions of what is requirement and acceptable. We foreigners are leaving it entirely to our Bangladeshi colleagues.

Just when we thought we had dotted all the I’s and crossed all t’s the conference manager asked us to move our last day to Friday (a holiday here) to accommodate the arrival of the prime minister at another hall in the conference complex on Thursday. A very assertive local colleague made it clear that the dates were not negotiable anymore, too late. And so the crisis was averted, and we wiped the sweat off our brows. We do have restricted movement that morning, no loitering in the enormous hallways, and arriving early. I think it will cramp our style a little bit but it is too late to worry now.

For dinner I was joined by my friend Fatima who is a student here. She brought along a friend of hers and an advocate of midwives, especially in this part of the world – we are connected through our inspiration by the Afghan midwives who hold the key to women’s empowerment and health in this unfortunate country. We had met at the annual Afghan midwives congress two years ago in Kabul and now we had a chance for a more leisurely introduction.

I watched the final frenzied campaigning from a distance while Axel watched it up close, seeing both Obama and Clinton in New Hampshire.  Everyone here is clear about who should win. But some of my American colleagues didn’t get their absentee ballot organized which is serious, especially because a few are from swing states.

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