West of Ireland, 2001

Leaning on my trolley, trying to look blasé whilst scanning the crowd and waiting to be found—in this crowd, a pale-faced, blonde-haired Westerner is a beacon—a frowning policeman accosts me.
“Bangla, na,” I apologise, bemoaning my half-hearted efforts with Bengali tapes and a phrasebook. We attempt to communicate in sign language since the only English phrase the policeman can repeat frequently and with a serious smile is unconstructive in the circumstances:
“I love you,” he announces, arms akimbo. “I love you.”
“Thank you,” I say. “But do you love me enough to take me home with you? You see, I don’t know where I’m going, where I am staying, who is going to meet me, what I will be doing, or indeed, with whom I will be doing it.”
Gently, he moves me to a quieter spot where more people can easily watch me. Minutes grind past. Then. . .

(ABBW Ch1)

After years of working in Child Protection services and with a MSc in Epidemiology languishing somewhere in a drawer, I was hunting for a new challenge. Seeing a tiny advert for Voluntary Service International (VSI) made me apply to volunteer in Asia/Africa/Latin America and soon I was looking for this country called Bangladesh (in)famous for poverty, floods and devastation.

Ashamed at my ignorance about a country of 140 million people, I found it hidden at the bottom of India, poking into the Bay of Bengal even though it used to be East Pakistan. I learned the capital was Dhaka, the currency was taka, language Bengali and the population mostly Muslim. I hunted for a guidebook, packed a rucksack and on a snowy, frosty New Years Eve headed into Dublin airport and right out of my comfort zone.

West of Ireland, 2001
The Modern Reader - Interview


No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Already Registered? Login Here
Thursday, 25 July 2024

Blog Archive

Popular Blog Posts

30 April 2019
29 August 2019
30 November 2016

Tag Cloud

No tags has been created yet.