These past four days, I have been conducting my very first interviews on Bangladeshi perceptions of madness and mental health - I jumped in feet first with some of (what I consider) my most challenging interviews with people in Bahadurpur, a rural village in Kushtia, Bangladesh. These villagers spoke no English and often had troubles understanding the questions we had set up, even through the translator. Background noises of screaming babies and goats abounded and there was even a brief rainstorm (as it is the beginning of monsoon season) that interrupted one of our interviews with persistent rainfall on a tin roof.
Aside from the interviews themselves, the location was hot and the power often went out, making even the available fans shut off. Bugs, lizards, frogs, you-name-it got into our sleeping quarters (and onto my toothbrush, ick!). But we made it out alive - despite a very real scare that we would be hit by a bus on the drive back to Dhaka - and with some very good material to be translated.
Also, in spite of my complaints above and the other zillion small challenges of being in the village, rural life can also be astonishingly beautiful. When not working on research, I got to watch some of the clearest lightning storms of my life and see the bright stars at night, walk through groves of all types of fruit-bearing trees and play with docile goats (who act a lot like cats, believe it or not). I'll describe all this in more florid language to come in my Friday fiction (ooh, spoilers!), but all in all, the trip was a tiring, mildly stressful, but ultimately rewarding excursion.
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