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Walking Two Blocks

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Going to work for most people is probably an exercise in boredom. Not for me. My walk through the streets of Dhaka is always an adventure.

Walking Two Blocks

My day in Dhaka begins with a slow awareness that the noise outside has sounded the alarm to awake. Banged-up autos at the intersection below my apartment blow their horns in urgent awareness that their drivers have no intention of slowing down. Most make it through without incident, leaving rickshaws, bicycles and motorbikes scattered in their tracks.

After a quick breakfast, I head out the door of my 6th-floor apartment. At ground level, a security guard will greet me. Well, most of the time. Sometimes I sneak up and amuse myself watching him deciding whether to snap to attention or trying to beat me to the gate. I return his salute, laughing at his seriousness.

Turning right at the corner, I can expect the familiar smell from a cracked concrete sewage ditch. I begin breathing again in a few paces, as I enter a safer aromatic zone.

I continue beside my apartment's iron fence, with its vicious spikes softened by the erratic placement of plants and flowers. Glancing up, I check to see if additional electric and phone lines are strung between the metal poles along the street. This morning, one new line is crossing to the other side of the street and is hanging dangerously low. It won't last past the first big truck. Ripped from its pole, it will quickly be tended to by a squad of men armed with a homemade bamboo ladder, resuming its place alongside the most horrible mess of jumbled wires you can imagine.

A few more meters and I exchange greetings with security guards to the right and left, relieving them momentarily of their long night of boredom. They return to watching two men in their lungis sweeping the leaves from the street, where a tricycle garbage truck will soon take the debris away.

I'm nearing a security checkpoint at the corner of my workplace, an American International School, where I work as a school nurse. The bright red-and-white painted metal security pole is a formidable barrier to vehicles, but no challenge to walk around. If I'm lucky, a bus or auto will arrive at the same time and I can stroll under the pole as it rises.

The checkpoint is manned by a security guard and two blue camo-attired policemen with vintage World War II rifles. I consider offering the guys donuts, but just smile and wave, unable to spread a cultural truism. Their faces break into friendly smiles that are quickly replaced by an expression of terminal boredom.

Passing one more guardhouse before my entry into work, I glance to the right at an apartment under construction. Well-toned men and women are carrying buckets of sand on their heads, an ant-like caravan that flows without incident into the work site. Marveling at what can be accomplished without power tools, I enter into the "protective bubble" that shields me from the outside world.

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2 Comment(s)

This is such a lovely piece of writing.

It brought me back to my time in India.

Your path inspires me that I am on the right track, and remain hopeful that I can bring the other complementary things I've learned and practice into this field.

I would really like to talk to you about your experiences as a PMHNP. I would be really grateful if I could hear more about how you operate in the field. My email is cait dot imagines at gmail dot com


Specializes in Psychiatric nurse practitioner. Has 11 years experience.

Hi Zenman I am a psychiatric nurse practitioner with five years of experience. I am thinking to go active duty. Do you have any recommendations or insight thank you.