Homebound

I poured over all the typed up post it notes all day Friday, looking for patterns, duplications and common understandings that would produce, as if by magic, a framework – the rationale for the alignment meeting. There is something like trusting that the process would produce the desired products, even if the shape and form of the product wasn’t clear at the beginning, not in my mind and not really in the mind of the people who had hired me. All of us were engaged in a leap of faith, though their leap may have been bigger than mine – we were all trusting that something good would come out of a vision of someone long since gone from the scene, 8 months of preparations, countless hours, headaches and even more dollars.

I interrupted my writing and thinking for a massage up the street, organized by one of my local counterparts. The three of us had a massage room to ourselves and three Thai ladies working on us. It was just what my body, having been hunched over a tiny netbook, needed.  All oily and massage-brained I returned to my hotel desk and finished the thoughts that had floated through my head while being kneaded and slapped. Creative thoughts happen when you least expect them. This I learned from reading the book Imagine by Lehrer, opening me up to suggestions to interrupt work for a massage any time.

In the evening another, and last social event was planned, making this the 7th dinner engagement in 8 days. We met at a Chinese restaurant around a large lazy Susan, my local and Baltimore colleagues and the founder of a Bangladeshi firm involved in research and communication – I have now entered this new world of communication organizations – a creative bunch, more so than the management and leadership folks I am usually hanging out with – design versus control. I do like this new universe and the people who inhabit it.

Back at the hotel I packed my few possessions in my small carry-on luggage while watching a documentary on the BBC of 50 years James Bond cars, car chases, car stunts, all illustrated with car related snippets from all the Bond films. It made me want to see all the old ones again, as well as the new one which also had car chases in Istanbul. We have a family visit to Istanbul on our wish list so this will be like a hors d’oeuvre.

Saturday morning was reserved for breakfast at the American club (a bagel with lox and real coffee), next to the pool where an aquatics class was underway and a grassy field with small boy scouts building something out of bamboo poles.

With a colleague from Baltimore, new to Bangladesh and looking for giftsfor the women in her life, a visit to a pearl vendor was called for. Bangladesh appears the place to buy real pearls for very little money (something like 8 dollars for a string). But I already have two sets of pearls, one from my grandmother and the other a gift for my 18th birthday.  I never wore or wear them much; people always seem to be surprised when I wear them, as if they are out of place around my neck.   May be it is because I don’t wear a twin set over a tweed skirt – the pearl necklace uniform in my mind.

After our pearl purchases we had fifteen minutes left for a quick swing through BRAC’s Aarong store, a required visit for anyone new or old to Bangladesh. My luggage limitation allowed only a very small purchase, two soft toys for Faro – I now no longer skip the baby/small children’s section – that could be stuffed into a side pocket.

We completed our stay in Bangladesh with a visit to the local organization that emerged out of a completed USAID project ten years ago. It has since flourished and diversified its funding in a way my own organization could learn from.  We toured their brand new building, all 6 stories, including lodging for 8 people, a roof restaurant and a training room with moveable furniture and plenty of wall space. Maybe I will be back there one day. After the tour we sat around a table and learned about what everyone in the room was working on while nibbling our fried chicken sandwich from an unofficial KFC outlet, and drinking our cokes.

And now I am in Dubai waiting for leg number two (Dubai-Amsterdam) of the three leg trip home. I was able to retrieve my good seat that the Emirates airline man in Dhaka had ignored and exchanged for a lousy seat way in the back on night flight to Amsterdam.  A nice Air France lady got it back.

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