Some censuring Readers will scornfully say, why hath this Lady writ her own life? Since none cares to know whose daughter she was or whose wife she is, or how she was bred, or what fortunes she had, or how she lived, or what humor or disposition she was of? I answer that is true, that 'tis to no purpose to the Readers, but it is to the Authoress, because I write it for my own sake, not theirs. ~Margaret Cavendish in 1655

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

between holidays

Christmas is finished and New Years is on the way. It's hard to believe how much has happened in the last year! I left Peace Corps, came home for a month, went back to Bangladesh, stayed for 6 months and now I'm home for quite some time.

Christmas is lovely to experience in a Christian country. I was overwhelmed at the amount of stuff given and received (the malls were frightening), but I'm not sure if I want to become habituated to it. Talk about alot of rampant materialism! And everyone has so much stuff! It makes me want to weed out my stuff (that's my heart speaking and not my lazy butt!).

Well, I hope that everyone had a good holiday and I hope to see all my American friends soon.

Take care!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

the day that wouldn't end

I'm home! I left Dhaka, flew to London, flew to Chicago and finally landed in Columbus all in one day. That's right... over 30 hours of travel and I arrived the same day I left. International time zones and constant travel can really screw up your head. I'm very excited now that it is actually Sunday.

So, I'll catch up with everyone soon... once I've caught up on my sleep. Take care.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

and the beat goes on

I've been sick for the past couple of days and it reminded me of what will and won't happen in the States. Here is a small list of stuff that I've been thinking about in the last week.

I probably won't contract a parasite. (I'm currently infested with pin worms! GROSS!)
I won't have black snot from the pollution and dust.
I will be able to eat pork and cheese.
I won't be able to wear extremely funky clothes.
I will freeze my butt off.
My work week won't start on Sunday, but on Monday. Therefore, I can say "Thank Goodness for Friday," instead of "Thank Goodness for Thursday," which doesn't have the same ring.
I'll be home for Christmas just like the song says.

There is probably more, but I can't think of it now...

Take care and I'll be seeing you soon.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


So, a few more bombs are going off in Bangladesh this past week. This morning ('Deshi time) another one went off and possible one went off last night in a tiny village up near where my PC friend Peter and Helyn live in Naogoan. So, they got off the plane after a vacation in Thailand today and they are consolidated in Dhaka. This is just a regional consolidation, so not all the PCVs will be brought into Dhaka. For of those not habituated in PC talk, consolidation is taking where you take all the volunteers and make them stay together, so if you must evacuate, then they are easier to reach. What is really translates to, Helyn, Peter and their sitemate Mr. Bill-O get a free trip into Dhaka and I'll be seeing them this evening at Happy Hour in the American Club.

Please note, I was very calm when I wrote this and please don't worry about the bombs. It's ok, no one panic. All the exits are clearly marked....

As for my own leaving plans, the plane leaves on the 17th and arrives 30 hours later on the 17th. Confusing? Slightly. Will I be mildly insane from the travel? Definately. Since I'm arrive at 9 pm, Mom asked if I wanted to stop at Schmidt's for a bratwurst on the way home. We'll see... We'll see... A nice brat with a cold beer will be heaven on earth. Mmmmm... pork and cheese. Will this make up for the cold? Hmmm.... I'll think about it....

For this evening however, it is a post-GRE/good-bye Happy Hour for fellow B-5 Wendy. She is has finished her 6 month contract and will be leaving the 'Desh for good in the next day or two. First, she's going to travel around India and also other parts of South Asia before going home to Arizona. Sounds like a ton of fun! Good luck to her!

Thursday, December 01, 2005


I've seen my own personal version of purgatory. While it wasn't hell, I sure could see it from where I was seated. This morning, Danielle and I met in Gulshan-1 circle and caught a CNG (baby taxi) down to Dhaka University area to an auditorium for the World AIDS Day program. We had to get down about two blocks from the auditorium for security reasons, so we had a lovely walk down there. We come across one of our colleagues also walking to the program and follow him in. We are shown where every NGO that has something to do with HIV/AIDS has information booths and look around. We are then informed the starting program (to officially start the whole kit and caboodle - we were officially not started before, I guess) is starting and we should really watch it. So off we go. We find seats in the lower section, in the back row and on the end. This was a little after 10. We didn't get up until after 1. We were supposed to leave at 12. They were on Bangladeshi time and we believe that they were on American time. Silly us. The thing that got me was the fact that everyone was 'rude' in an American sense, but it didn't faze a single person there. A huge group of people got up to leave in the middle of a speech and the guy in charge of my office had to go and convince them to sit down. He did this multiple times! Finally, the talking heads have finished talking about the same crap that the fella in front of him said and then the cultural program started. The first group was about 7 young adults who were singing songs about AIDS in a traditional form, with a haromium, tabula and small cymbals for background music. It was so loud that I couldn't focus on what was being said. Luckily, they only sang one song. Then came on another group of traditional singer and they sang two songs about AIDS and were more entertaining overall. They didn't give me a bigger headache, in other words. Then! A minister stood up and started to talk more!!! I finally translated that he was opening the main programs and then finally.... our suffering was over! We hurried out and said our good-byes and fled.

Outside the auditorium, we walked back the two blocks to a larger road and tried to get a rickshaw. A group of well-dressed men came over to us and asked what we are doing there. We said that we had gone to the AIDS program and were going home (all this in English) He told us that it was a hartal and that we would have to take a rickshaw all the way to Banani. I whipped out my Bangla, informed him that we know about that hartal and that didn't stop us getting there that morning. He then told us that he would manage a rickshaw for us. He called one over to us and I asked the wala if he was going and the jerk shushed me and told the rickshaw wala that we would give taka 100 to go to Banani. I said that I was a cheap bhabhi and that I would not give 100 taka when the meter for a CNG was 60 taka (thus making the rickshaw price 40-50 taka for the same distance). I thanked him and asked which direction was Banani. At the next road was a ton of CNGs and rickshaws and I paid 80 taka to go where I wanted to (hartals equal baksheesh). I hate it when men tell me that they will 'manage' stuff for me that I can do perfectly fine for myself. However, since he was probably in charge and could hire local ruffians to break my knees, I decided that silence was the better part of valor and kept my mouth shut. But, I'd pay good money to give him what for.

As a treat to ourselves for sitting through multiple talking heads, we ate lunch at Pizza Hut. The week is done and yeah for the weekend!

On the 'Don't worry front': There was a bombing in Gazipur today and some people were killed, but they are still targetting the courts and justice system, so good for my foreign self.

Take care!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

a little too calloused

I think that I have been here a little too long, when 2 bombings killing 9 people doesn't even faze me any longer. Albeit, it was in Gazipur and Chittagong (not too close) was where it happened. All I asked was, 'Where did it happen? Will there be a hartal?' So, there will be a hartal tomorrow. Again. The extremists are targetting judges and the court-system, since they want Sharia law to be the law-system of the country, rather than the British non-secular law that is currently in place.

So, with that said, I still have to come to work tomorrow and look cute in a sari. No rest for the weary or the wicked. Tomorrow is World AIDS Day and there is a big program (that is going to be cut shorted, due to hartal) and I gotta go, sit and look pretty. Ugh. All it's going to be is bigwigs saying the same stuff they say all the time. Maybe they'll have a good tea and snacks to offer.... hmmm... maybe I should take a big purse.... hmmm.... Hopefully, fellow intern Danielle will come with me and we can keep each other amused. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

turkey day bonanza

Turkey Day was bideshi filled and the amount of food was obscene!!! There was so many turkeys for the party of 30+ people that one entire bird was not even cut into. This translates into 'someone will have a crapload of turkey sandwiches for the ensuing year'! The party took place at Roomie Carrie's boss' house, so alot of USAID people came to celebrate. Carrie and I really took to two of the girls and thus planned a lovely shopping trip on Saturday with them.

Friday was a jammie/recovery day from the Turkey indulgences and then Saturday, we shopped. First was Sally Ann's Salvation Army for waffles and tea. That's right, I eat waffles at the Salvation Army. And go shopping there. I spent an large amount of money on stuff that I always wanted and now will ship home. Then we met up with Angela and Brandy for shopping after lunch at the American Club. We hit Aarong and I really went a little nuts at the jewelry counter. 3 nose rings and 4 earrings later (with one of them for Mom) and a cup of tea later, we went to Bata (shoes). I came home with two pairs of shoes that actually fit (ok, one pair better than the other, but they were really cute!) and then we went plant shopping. I didn't come back with anything (which is considerate of me considering my black thumb) and then Brandy had to go home. However, Carrie and Angela were up for more shopping (I was drooping, but hung in there). So off we trotted to Melange for comforters and pillows for Carrie. By then it was 8 o'clock and no dinner. Angela and Carrie took pity on my drooping self and fed me Japanese for dinner. Yeah! Rolls rock! Then off to home to look at our loot and go to bed to actually make it up the next morning. Ugh.. I'm still tired from that shopping!

Ok, here is the deal... I'm coming home for Christmas. I think that I will be living with Mom and Dad between Christmas and grad school starting, but a job would be a good thing. I'm hazy on the details, so I'll keep you posted as soon as I have a clue.

Take care and be safe in this holiday season.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

hartal season has begun

Hartals are general strikes that are usually called by the political party not in power. The US equiv. would be if the Dems really wanted to stick it to the Reps, so they call a country-wide strike. The only people they would hurt would be the average Joe, but who really cares? The joys of 3rd world politics.

What this means for me.... I might not be in the office until Saturday, unless I can bribe a rickshaw wala to haul my butt to the office. Then, it will be peaceful, quiet and I can play music at any level I want. Oh! Don't forget the long lunch at the American Club, since there will be no cafeteria service here in the office and the AC is not known for their swiftness.

So, thanks for the notes of condolence on a lost love. I appreciate it greatly. I might be here tomorrow or not... Inshallah.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

at least it's not dengue

Dengue is out and about in fine form this year! I've heard of several people coming down with it. Dengue, for those not in the know, is commonly known as 'break-bone fever'. It is a mosquito-born disease that causes a fever, soar joints (thus the break-bone part) and general unpleasantness. There is no cure and no preventative meds for it. The only treatment is Tylenol and rest. Hemorrhagic dengue is the worst case scenerio and can kill you fairly quickly unless you receive treatment. So with all this worst case scenerio before you, my unhappy tummy is nothing in comparison. I can't complain, since it could easily be worse.

This weekend I was a social butterfly. I was supposed to go to the German Club, but cancelled out at the last minute with fatigue! I was so stinkin' tired of a whole week of work, that a snack at the American Club did me in. The next day I went shopping with Helyn and bought some beautiful cloth to make into western clothes. Then I ate the roll that did me in the next day. That evening, I made my way to fellow bideshis Eric and Danielle's house for Eric's 30th birthday party. Carrie and I made it home about midnight and that night, I was up a few times. Then the next day, I competely crashed and stayed in my jammies all day.

On a more personal note, Rana and I have broken up. This means that I have no current plans after my contract with Save ends in December. I'm thinking about grad school in the fall, but there is alot of time between now and then. I would really like to get more experience in development, since I would really like to be employed once I leave grad school and most jobs require experience. Catch-22 on that one. So, if you have any ideas about my future, please feel free to write, but keep in mind that I won't necessarily follow any/all advice.

Take care.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

eid-ul-fitre is over!

Thank goodness for small favors! Eid is over and things are slowly going back to normal. Dhaka was dead for Eid Day and the following two to three days following it. There are stores that are still closed from the holiday! Everyone and their brother went to their 'country home' for the holiday.

Carrie and I stayed in Dhaka for the entire holiday and for about 2 days didn't get out of our jammies. We both read, watched movies and worked on "The Good Girls' Guide to Dressing in the 'Desh". This was a ton of fun when we made our pictorial debut on "How to Wrap a Sari". My bright pink sari with the funky purple and yellow paisly print was decided upon as a 'photo-friendly' sari and the snapping took most of the day. I think that we are going to give this to Peace Corps Bangladesh and maybe offer it various Embassies and High Commissions for their welcome kits. Who knows what'll happen?

As for now, I'm looking for a job. Any job that will pay in US dollars. My internship/consultancy is ending in 5 weeks, so unemployment is lurking not too far away. Ugh.

OK for now... I'll try to remember to bring my camera to work and post some pics. Take care all!

Monday, October 31, 2005

happy halloween and eid muburak

This past week saw very little action, except work and home. Yesterday was exciting because 58 new Peace Corps Volunteers were sworn in at the American Embassy. I put on my Eid sari (Carrie called it Prissy Barbie Sari) and went over there and saw for myself how boring speeches are given! Those poor campers! Not a single exciting speech in the lot and there were plenty to choose from. Afterwards, at a party given at a former Volunteer's house, it was a good time had by all. It was supposed to be a potlock and Carrie and I contributed some street iftar food~ I'm sure if the other ex-pats had known, I don't think they would have risked eating it (fear of stomach problems being the deterent)! However, as it was, we went home with just a small smattering of leftovers. Yeah!

This evening should be fun! PCVs Molly and Scott have Friend Micah here from America (land of pork and cheese) and they will be staying the night at our house. Tomorrow they will be going to Srimongal to see the tea gardens. How lovely is that?

And the highlight of this blog? I will have the next week off for Eid holiday (actually a combo of Shob-E-Quadar, Eid-ul-Fitre, a weekend, and National Solidarity Day) I will be staying home, cleaning, reading, maybe cooking and writing. Everything will be closed down, so that will put the kibash on shopping and other good stuff like that. That reminds me... need to hit the grocery store on the way home. Take care, have some fun and see you campers next week!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

rain, rain go away!

The rain has been coming down for the last few days and all the roads are waterlogged in Dhaka and most of Bangladesh. It's been perfect weather for staying at home and reading a good book or eating some kitchori. I rode to work in a rickshaw all the way today, since I didn't have a hope of getting a CNG. The rain is supposed to be letting up tomorrow - yeah for Bangladesh. There are even rumors of sunshine, a rare commodity recently. Roomie Carrie and I plan to take cushions and mattresses and place them in the sun to get rid of the mildew smell that is pervasive in our house.

On the family front - no one is in the hospital! Grandma D went in after coming down with a nasty virus that freaked everyone out. She made it home after a few days and so did Grandma F, after her bout with a nasty bacteria.

That's all that's newsworthy in the 'Desh.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

back from rajshahi

Well, my trip to Rajshahi was a success! I saw several people, ate excellent iftars, did a little shopping and passed out some Eid gifts. I stayed with Molly and Scott (my former sitemates) and they are the hosts with the mosts!!! Molly even makes homemade bread in her teeny, tiny oven. I was also on the receiving end of the Eid gifts - I came home with 3 shalwar kameezes!

Roomie Carrie is again back in the 'Desh and hopefully surviving her first day back at work. Troy and Miranda are getting settled into their new digs next door and making it a home.

On the home front, Baby Jilli is home from the hospital and cute as can be (proof is in the pic)! Grandma F should be home soon to a very clean house. Mom, Dad, Cousin Adam and his son Brice went to her house and attacted one evening, so now Grandma can't get re-infected.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

busy, busy, busy

It didn't seem like it at the time, but life has been busy since last I wrote. Since then, my Rana has come for a visit, my cousin Jamie has become a mommy again and I'm planning for a trip to Rajshahi this coming weekend. Here is a picture of the happy family. Baby's name is Jillian Faith and she was 7 pounds, 10 ounces and 20 inches long. For a baby-alone photo, check out St. Rita's Baby Connection website.

As for Rana, we had a pleasant time while he was in Dhaka. I made some kitchori (a rice and lentil dish) and almost had the spices right. I didn't make any if-tar stuff, but we picked some up at a nearby roadside stand before it was time. Tasty, but not homemade by a long shot. It was nice to just run around the town with him and just run errands.

As for my trip to Rajshahi, I found out yesterday that my office is changing the Durga Puga holiday to Thursday, so a three-day weekend is for me. So, I'm getting bus tickets and finding a place to stay while in Rajshahi. This should be fun, since this is the first time that I have been back since I was a volunteer.

Also, Roomie Carrie should be on a plane flying back to the 'Desh on Thursday (arriving here on Saturday), after a month hiatus. It'll be nice to have her back.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

ramadan is here!

The moon has spoken and Ramadan has started. What this means for me is 1) no eating in the streets/public during the day, 2) some of my favorite places will only serve if-tar and no lunch or regular dinners, 3) I can hope for invites to if-tars. This time of year is great for visiting people in their homes and enjoying each others' company. The drawback is that its easier for people to become angry and clumsy, since they are food deprived and usually sleep deprived.
This is the breakdown of Ramadan, as I have observed:
  • A person wakes up about an hour or so before the break of dawn. This is to eat breakfast and to pray. You know when this happens, due to each and every mosque either turns on a siren or employs boys to beat drums, microphone "Wake up, it's time to wake UP and eat breakfast!" around the neighborhood. Officially the fasting starts when you can tell the difference between a black thread and a white thread.
  • Then you go back to sleep until its time to really get up and get ready for work. Alot of village people work from sunrise to sunset, so they just stay up.
  • Then the waiting begins. Naps in the early afternoon are more prevelant, since that makes the time go faster and you had to get up early to make breakfast (more common for women who do all the cooking, that is).
  • The cooking for if-tar starts. If-tar is the breaking of the fast. A woman must cook without tasting her food. Or if she does taste it, she must spit it back out and rinse her mouth out - without swallowing anything. That is one reason that I don't mind going to houses early, since I can be used as a taste-tester.
  • Finally, when a person can't tell the difference between a black and a white thread, it's time to eat! Generally, people start with a glass of water or dates, since that is what the Prophet did to break his fasts. Alot of times, people will just take to the water and dates and then go pray, come back and finish their if-tar.
  • A couple of hours later, dinner is served around 11:00 at night.
  • The process begins again.

Something that is considered auspicious is to read the entire Qu'ran during this holy month. Some mosques will have it read over the loudspeaker for a couple of hours every evening, for those who are illiterate. That can be annoying for the non-Muslim living in the neighborhood, along with the siren and/or drum at 3:30 in the morning. I think that the drum about put me over the edge last year. This year, however, I didn't hear a single thing in my house. I am darn happy about that.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

just checking in...

Many folks say, "Laura, how great that you have tailors to make clothes for you all the time and it doesn't cost an arm and a leg!" Then I have days like today, where my clothes don't fit well and think to myself, "Boy, I wish I had ready-made clothes again." This kameez (top) I'm wearing today is going back to the tailor and have the arms enlarged, since I'm fond of having feeling in my fingers all day long. Call me picky, but short sleeves that bite into your skin is not comfy. This is not today's 3-piece, but one of my Indian buys. Friend Danielle calls it my orange sherbert 3-piece and I don't think she's too off track!

Today, one of my Bangladeshi colleagues told me that he is going to Washington, DC for a conference and I'm trying to help him get all 'Westernized'. In other words, I'm writing his resume, seeing what he's presenting and un-Bangladeshi-fy it. I'm thinking that this should eat up some time and I like trying to up the professionalism of my colleagues. I'm hoping that I can talk him out of a flower picture with "Thank you" for the last picture on the PowerPoint presentation. For some reason, that is really popular here. Since he is actually presenting something there, I'm also going to let him practice and give constructive feedback. I have found that there are very few good presenters of PowerPoint and even fewer in Bangladesh. I've been to some that had every bell and whistle present and then some. The best part - I know he will appreciate it! He already told me so. I just hope that he feels the same afterwards!!!

OK, Grandma F is in St. Rita's hospital now and is getting treatment. Keep her on the prayer lists.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

sunday at the office

Sooo, I have work to do today! In fact, two projects! Craziness all around. It's been raining like crazy since Thursday, so everything smells mildly mildew-y. Friday was dinner with my new neighbors, Troy and Miranda, and then a birthday party for Craig, fellow Saver and RPCV from my group. Saturday was waffles at Sally Ann's with RPCVs Wendy(B5) and Lela(B2) and a little shopping around Banani and pizza for lunch. What a good way to spend a rainy day. I went home afterwards and just crashed.

Ramadan should be starting soon, so my work schedule will have to change. My work week will still be Sunday thru Thursday, but the hours will be 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with lunch for only those who want/need it. Then after the Eid vacation, the hours will be extended to compensate for the month of reduced hours. I'll see how that goes. I just might keep the regular hours all the way through, since I won't be fasting. However, I'm going to be subtle and try to get if-tar (breaking of the fast) invites as much as possible. And I'm going to learn how to make boot, which is a very tasty lentil that is always served for if-tar. You mix it with puffed rice (rice krispies) and some deep-fried veggies and enjoy. Yummy!

In family news, Dad's cousin Mark's ex-wife passed away last week. I think that she was only in her 40s, so it was very unexpected. So, please keep Mark and Austin (their son) on your prayer lists. Grandma F is still in the hospital at the moment and Cousin Jamie will be induced Friday (unless baby wants to make an earlier appearance), so she'll be making her way to the hospital too.

Other than that, everything else is quiet. Take care all.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

back to normal or what passes for normal

Well, I got over the notorious 'change of season' cold that comes every two months in Bangladesh. That's what you get when you have 6 seasons. PCV Helyn has gone back to Naogoa to be at site with her hubby Peter. Danielle and Eric have decided to make a weekend trip to Naogoa to visit Helyn and Peter. This should be good, since they have a little Bangla between them and there will be very little English between here and there. Luckily for Danielle and Eric, Helyn and Peter are excellent hosts and they will get a true Bangladeshi experience that most foreigners won't ever get.

As for myself, RPCVs Wendy and Craig are having a belated birthday party for Craig on Friday. Then on Saturday, Wendy and I will be shopping for Wendy's Eid gifts and just to have some girl time. I think that we'll have a good time. Then it'll be back to the grind on Sunday.

An update at home... Grandma F. is in the hospital for dehydration. She got a nasty flu bug and lost too much fluid. Hopefully she'll get springed from the hospital soon. Keep her on your prayer lists. Take care and everyone have a good autumn weekend.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

pics and plans

So, Rana came down to Dhaka for less than 24 hours this weekend - poor guy! 5 hours each way on a busride that is like a game of Dodgeball, but using buses, cars, Tata trucks, rickshaws, motorcycles, people and animals. An adventure every time! For those of you who have never seen a picture of him, here it is:

Ta-da! He looks sweaty since it was hotter than blue-blazes and no fan when I took this picture.

As for people in my life, the new foreigners of Danielle and Eric went to a fancy, smancy party and I wrapped Danielle into a sari that was very nice and really funky. Here are the folks that I'm talking about to the side. They are really a nice couple. He is doing an internship at ICDDR,B hospital (he plays with pooh and chlorea) and she is working an internship at the same place as me... thus, how we met.

Roomie Aliza left Saturday for America bright and early, so the house is very quiet. That makes PCV Helyn's visit even more wonderful than normal! She is here is Dhaka today and a little while more. Her husband PCV Peter is still in Naogoa and the neighbors promised to feed him well. Helyn says that she generally comes home from trips to find that Peter has gained weight from going next door and eating all the time.

Today, I chatted with the head guy at our office and he gave me some infomation about universities for grad school and put the thought of Public Policy with an international slant into my head. I'm checking out some of the universities he suggested and seeing if it's something that I can get behind and do.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

molly minnis big 26

PCV Molly celebrated her birthday yesterday, along with RPCV Craig and Cousin Jamie. Unfortunately, I could only celebrate with Molly and not the others due to proximately problems. However, Molly celebrated well and may possibly have a life-hangover today to prove it. And yes, those balloons are connected to Molly's hair.

Good news! Rana is on the 1:00 bus to Dhaka, so he should show up at my house by 6:30 at the earliest. Yeah for me!!!

Take care and have fun, kids!

back to dhaka

So, I finally made it back to the 'Desh in one piece. I had fun wrapping my luggage to prevent theft. Check out this on the left! It's like Saran wrap, but for your bags. It only cost 100 Rupees per bag (1:47, USD:IRs) and then you can fly with a little more piece of mind. The wrap makes it a bit harder for theives to get at you stuff, which Dhaka Airport is infamous for. Another fun thing I saw, happened while I was on the plane. I was sitting in my seat on the plane, minding my own business. I happen to look up and I see an inch-long cockroach scurrying around the doorframe in the cabin. I pointed it out to my seatmate and we both chuckled. I think that maybe I have lived here too long when cockroaches in airplanes don't really surprise me. Just a thought...

As for other fun things, I went to College Road to buy some medical books for my colleague. I don't know what I was expecting, but I think that I was expecting a more western style of book store than what I found. However, the guy featured in this picture was really helpful in finding the one book I ended up buying. He gave me a little stool to sit on after I had to go on a 2-km hunt for an ATM (ok, maybe not 2K, but it was really, really hot out!). He had a guy who worked for him hoof all around to find the book from other medical book shops in the surrounding area. Very nice of him. And then, after we finished our business, he got me a taxi and a decent price back to my hotel next to New Market. What a nice guy.

As for today's agenda, there isn't too much, with the hartal and all. The Awami League and 11-party alliance are having a hartal today to protest the rising petrol prices. So this makes the office pretty much dead. I think that tomorrow will be somewhat normal. Rana is coming in on Thursday (tomorrow) and leaving again on Friday. Bummer, but it can't be helped. He thinks that he can come for a longer stay after Ramadan break starts at school. Since I'll have to feed him during his stay here while he's fasting, I'm going to learn how to make kitchuri. This is lentils, rice, spices (tons of tumeric) all cooked together. It's kinda like comfort food here ~ good for rainy days and when you're sick. I hope this works out for him. Take care and leave comments! ~Laura

Monday, September 19, 2005

the vacation that wouldn't end....

Kolkata is a lovely city, but I've had enough for now. I have bought way too many shalwar kameez and saris, though I have my Puga, Eid and Christmas bought for, it's going to be a little hard to lug home. I think that I need to purchase a lovely jute bag to carry home some of my prizes. The kicker is the books that I'll be lugging back. There aren't too many really great book shops in Dhaka, so one of my colleagues asked me to bring back 5 medical books, but I only found 1 very thick one off his list. There should be a way that up-to-date medical books be brought into Bangladesh, however, there isn't. However, I'm going to look into this problem when I get back. I don't know if I can do anything, but who knows until I try and ask.

Mom was right, it's the touts that bother the heck out of person here. Every tourist looks like a mark. This isn't meant to scare off anyone who wants to visit Kolkata, in fact the opposite! I just want people to be more aware when they travel and to do it safely. Just be aware of the touts of India - they'll try for every Rupee in your pocket.

Well, I hope to leave for the airport by 7 this evening to be ready for my 9:40 p.m. flight. Damn Biman Airways and their inability to plan! grrr.... Ok, campers, off I go to drink another lassi and maybe to have a snack. Talk to you from Dhaka!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

kolkata news

So, I have been enjoying the Kolkata (Calcutta) area for about a day and a half now. I have bought several 3-pieces (heavy modern) for myself and gifts for the upcoming Eid holiday. The newspapers have a ton of ads for Durga Puga sales starting this weekend, so I lucked out! The only annoying thing is that the locals of the area think I'm a Joe Schmoe tourist and don't know crap. I whip out the Bangla and they still bother me. Then I tell them I mind very much and finally they don't disturb me. Ugh. I need to go to a place that just kinda pleasantly ignores tourists. If I want/need something, I'll ask. Good Grief!

As for the trip over, Biman Air was completely Bangladeshi to the nth degree!!!! They didn't announce anything, they were 2 hours late and people didn't understand the meaning of a que. The airplane, I firmly believe, was older than me and decorated in that garish orange floral pattern from the 60s/70s. You know the one. I think that I prayed every second that I was in that plane. I will probably be doing the same when I get back on it to return to Dhaka. The fun and joy of 3rd world airplanes. The best part was the fact that the stewardess' opened the pilot's door whenever they wanted to during the flight. While we were landing, the door to the cockpit flew open. I guess they aren't too worried about terrorists here. As always, I had my purse ready to whap the crap out of anyone who tries to mess with me. grrr.....

I haven't done too much siteseeing, since that isn't too much fun alone. The next time I come, I plan on bringing someone with me. I don't know how Friend Ebony can just travel around by herself and have the best of times. I think that I need that other person to get me out of my shell.

Oh, well... back to shopping. I'm going to pick up some beautiful teeps (the stickers that go between your eyebrows) and see what kind of saris are out there.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

kolkutta here I come

It's official - I have my ticket to Kolkutta (Calcutta) for Friday and I'll be getting back on Monday, which is the Islamic holiday of Shob-R-Barat. I'm really looking forward to the good shopping, food and times ahead of me. I've already gotten a sari request from PCV Helyn (Eid is coming up) and I'm excited about all the heavy modern stuff that is there. I'll keep a budget for myself, but it'll be hard to deny too many shopping urges. The even better than I could imagine part of this adventure is that Durga Puga preparations are starting up there, so all the good/new/heavy modern designs will be out in the stores. Yippee! I am going to have so much fun!!! I just wish that I could sneak Rana along with me in my suitcase, but he has school and I really need to leave for my visa restrictions.

Other than that, everything is going along the same. Roommie Aliza will be leaving next week, so it'll be back to me and Carrie again. However, starting 1 October, Miranda Bhabhi and Tron Bhai (known to Americans as Miranda and Troy) will move in next door and become our neighbors. That'll be nice to have neighbors that are normal. Though, I have to say that the Afgani diplomat's family upstairs are really nice. The only weird neighbor I know is across the entryway from us and it's just the one auntie. We're thinking that she has a couple of mental issues, since she just kinda wanders in and looks through stuff and asks crazy questions and likes to touch our hair. Then her sister comes in and says, "It's time to go home now," and off they go, hand in hand. How funny!

If there are any requests for Indian stuff, just let me know! Take care and I'll let you know how the trip went later.

Monday, September 12, 2005

i'll give you a conk...

So, I survived the weekend and got a little adventure out of it to boot. Roomie Carrie, PCV Helyn, newbie Bideshis Eric and Danielle and my own lonesome took a taxi to an old part of Dhaka, hopped onto rickshaws to go to an older part of Dhaka to a particular Hindu conk shell seller (dokaner) and proceeded to drop quite a bit a Taka on conk shell bracelets that Hindu wives wear to show they are married (the Christian equivilant is the wedding ring). They are so beautiful and artisic, its unbelievable that they can make such things. The shopowner gave us lovely conk shells (whole) that are carved. Hindus blow on the conks every evening at sunset and light incense to pray to the various Gods and Goddesses. Its so nice to have Hindu neighbors and to be able to listen and smell their traditions every evening. It was also nice to go into this minority neighborhood and enjoy the differentness that Hindus have from Muslims. It can show a person the differences that religion influnces or changes a culture. I think that I will make my way back there again with a bit more Taka in my pocket.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

to the sticks and back

Well, I survived my trip to the field and can tell the tale about it. Nasirnagar is a small village in the middle of floodplain, which stays flooded longer than any part of Bangladesh. From my home to the resthouse (where we stayed, since there are no hotels nearby) it took 6 hours of travel, with half of it being by boat. We drove the office car until the road literally ended in the middle of a big lake, which won't be a lake by January, and then got onto a speed boat. The speed boat didn't quite meet up with my expectations, but it was faster than paddling and it had a motor. Gift Horse. We took the boat and meandered through channels between another road they are building and paddy fields. Then we came into another big lake (which will be dry land by January), crossed it and pulled up to what looked like ghats/stairs just going into the water. We hopped off and grabbed a couple of rickshaws and 5 taka later were at the resthouse. It was so quiet and peaceful, especially after the hustle and bustle of Dhaka. The staff members/caretakers were very nice and the in-house cook had a good hand with the spices. Very tasty eating was done the entire time I was there.

The next day, we met with all of the field people working with the community. They were very nice and there was even a guy from Rajshahi! He grew up next to the Collegiate School where I was posted while a PCV. Small world. I got some paperwork done and just enjoyed the scenery. Same thing happened the next day, but with dinner being had at a colleague's house. His wife went nuts that day and cooked beyond belief! She made 2 chicken, 1 veggie, 1 goat, 1 egg, 1 chop (kinda like a fried meat pattie) and 1 fish dish with pullou rice(really expensive rice with spices and raisins in it). Then she made a pudding for dessert. She won't have to cook for the next two days with all of the leftovers!!!

The next day we left at about 4:30 and I made it home by 11:00. I stayed up and chatted with Carrie and finally had to call it a night at midnight. It's so sad when a grown woman has to have a bedtime and can't stay up late without consequences. Oh, well, what can I do?

I will try to finish my roll of film and get the pictures posted. Cross your fingers on that one. Maybe a digital camera wouldn't be a bad thing.... Food for thought.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

when it rains, it pours....

I'm reading about the great floodings happening in New Orleans and the Gulf States. I think I've lived here too long when news of flooding hardly gets a blink from me. I remember that there were Bangladeshi families living on the rooves last year and cooking on their little tin shacks that they used to call home. It might not have done millions or billions dollars worth of damage, but it took the livihood from entire communities and left families destitute, just like in the States. Hopefully, things will come around people are able to piece their lives together again, but it's going to take alot.

Things have been piling up around the office. I've got marching orders to visit a project out in the field and I'll be leaving Saturday around noon and I'll be getting back Monday evening. This project site is in the 'haor' which is a swamp/marsh area of the country. We'll take a car for a couple of hours and then take a boat to get to the town. The lady in charge asked me if I could swim.... so I'll be packing everything in Ziploc baggies before I put them in my backpack. Then, I'll be writing various reports on subjects I have very little knowledge about, so let the fun begin!

The only other minor buggaboo is the lack of a good tailor. I have some lovely clothe that I'm scared to give to a tailor, since I'm thinking he'll butcher it. It won't fit, is my main concern. Or they'll murder it somehow. Ugh. Tailors aren't known for their good work here and I left a perfectly wonderful tailor in Rajshahi. He was my second best male relationship in Bangladesh (my Honey Rana rated #1). I miss him so much. I'm thinking of mailing my clothe to him, but I just need to bite the bullet and go to a tailor here in Dhaka. Its so frustrating! Its almost as bad as buying ready-made clothes in the States, with the dressing-room blues and the horrible florescent lighting.

Well, I'll fill you in on the field trip later! Take care.

Sunday, August 28, 2005


This is just a blah sort of day in the 'Desh. My honey Rana came down for the weekend and we talked alot about the future, marriage and the whole kit and caboodle. He is going to talk again to his parents about our marriage. I've found out that they are ok with me, just they don't like my religion. They'd be happy as a lark if I converted to Islam, but since that's not going to happen, I vote they deal with it. Too bad there is no voting on this. Unfortunately, this is really upsetting my honey and he pretty much has to deal with it alone. I hate that he has this burden, but since my family is really accepting of his religion, background and etc., I don't have to deal with half of the crap that he's going through. Hopefully, everyone will come around on this. We'll see.

Work is going on ok. I have a 128-page report to edit for gross errors, but I'm actually enjoying the task. The funding request, that made last week such a beast, has been couriered off to Global Fund and peace again reigns on my floor. Yeah for that.

OH!!! I met little Nosim Sama (Rana's middle sister Lata's baby girl) and she has the sweetest face! She has really deformed hands and feet and legs curl up way more than a baby's should (from the spina bifida), but she's still a cutie. I took some pictures, so when I actually finish the roll, I'll try to get it on here. Cross your fingers!

Well, I have to plan for a mini-vacation for the middle of September, to keep my visa valid. I'm thinking a quick plane trip to Calcutta for a long weekend of good eating and shopping. I can buy my Eid gifts there and maybe a little something for myself. :) There are so many cute clothes in India - it's rather disgusting! Let me know if anyone has a suggestion about the vacation. I'm up for a little spoiling. Or just something beautiful to see and experience.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

back to everyday life

Well, things are back to normal around here. The hartal finished off with a whimper (for now) and everyone has settled into their everyday routines. I was requested to work all weekend, so cancelled meeting with Rana this weekend. I came into the office and they didn't have anything for me to do, so wasted time was abundant. I don't know when I'll go home today, since everything that 6 colleagues write has to go through me first. That is not going to be fun! I hope that they don't expect me to pull an all-nighter, since I couldn't even do that in university! However, Rana will be coming next Thursday for the weekend and that makes me very, very happy. I haven't seen him in a month. It's so hard to be without him as daily influence. He adds a good balance in my life.

As for the family, everything on that front seems to be forming a new normal. Mom's Cousin Lee Ann just got back from a lovely trip to Alaska and has only lovely things to say about it. I think I'll be smart like her, and only visit in the summer! I really hate the cold, so its someplace I will never in my right mind move to. Visit, yes; live, no.

More family news: Grandma F. is on the recovery list and seems to be in good spirits. Aunt Lisa seems to be coming 'round. Cousin Jamie is moving soon to the farm and kudos for her... moving 2 kids, herself, a small menagery of animals (I couldn't keep track if I tried), her man, keeping sane and being pregnant to boot. She amazes me on a regular basis. Mom and Dad are being good Aunt and Uncle and helping out. And everyone else seems to be working at something or another. Yeah for the family!!!

And on the friend front: Princess Megan is getting back to her new normal also. She doing great in her treatments, but if you don't believe me, just click on her page under Links. Sweetie is going through a rough patch. Boy trouble is never a good thing. I wish I was home to order in pizza and Ben & Jerry's with him and just veg. Lay like broccoli. Also, a belated BD shout out to Friend Alison. She is once again 25. You go for the gold, honey!

Take care folks!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

don't panic

There was multiple bombings here in Bangladesh. Two people have been reported killed and 150+ injured. I was working in my cube and the power went out for about 10-15 minutes. I didn't hear anything or feel anything shake, so it wasn't a very powerful bomb. The only thing that is really disturbing my everyday existence is the lack of public transport this morning. The roads were really empty and I had to pay extra for my ride into work (but I have to take into account that it was raining, which always means you have to pay more). I don't know if there will be hartals (general strikes), since a radical Islamic group might be behind it and not the political opposition. We'll see. But that won't stop me from coming to work all weekend! No fun for me this weekend and 10 hour work days. Let it begin!

Take care!

Sunday, August 14, 2005

good news finally!!!

OK, campers, we have some good news! Grandma F. made it through surgery ok and has a new hip to prove it. Yeah for her! Also, my Honey Rana is coming this Thursday for a much-needed visit. His sister Lata is coming with an entourage on Wednesday (with siblings Diba and Raja and Baby Sama), so I'll finally get to meet Baby Sama. It'll be nice to visit with normal folks here in Dhaka. I plan on going over for tea on a regular basis, so it'll just be like living in Rajshahi again.

Other good news is that Friend Allison got a new job and moved to new digs! Good for her!!! Check out her good news by clicking on her link on the left side of the screen.

Well, today is a half-day hartal (strike), but Roomie Aliza and I both came into work. I forget what the hartal is about, but that's normal for me. It might be over the mobile court that is going around and looking into all the food factories and resturants and closing them down if they are unhygenic or putting crap in the food to make cheaper to produce or something to that affect. The factory owners and restauranteers are protesting it, even though the mobile court has found really disgusting stuff, like fertilizer in cookies and spoiled food being mixed with good food to disguise the fact that it's gone off. This means I'm only buying foreign cookies from now on!

Take care and enjoy sanitary restaurants!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

the cookie is a crumblin'

Well, more bad news fly my way this morning. Grandma F. fell at the office and broke her right hip. She's in St. Rita's in Lima, OH and the surgery should be Thursday. I'm not sure what the doctor is going to do, but I'm hoping for the best. I don't know where she is going to convalesce, but I don't think it'll be at home. Keep her in your prayers, everyone. This is the same grandma that just lost her son last week, so she's not doing the best this month.

I think that my cookie consumption is never going to level out at this rate, let alone go back down. Ugh.

On a happier note, so that you might actually want to visit here again, 58 fresh-faced Peace Corps Trainees flew into Dhaka yesterday. There was a meet and greet at the office last evening and I caught up with older Volunteers and met the newbies. They are so young! And not jaded in the least. Give them time and experience and they will be!

Take care folks and send some good news if you got some to spare!!!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Rain drops are falling on my head....

So, it's raining here without a hint that its going to stop in the near future. I think that the rainy season is going out like a lion this year, so I'm prepping for flooding. Extra food stocked up with water bottles full to the brim and waiting for days that we won't go outside at all. It isn't helping the mildew problem, but I know that the sun will come out to play one day in the near future. Or at least I hope it does.

New Roomie Aliza is dealing well with the rain, so that is a good thing. I think that she is getting bored, but that is just part of living in the 'Desh during the rainy season or really any season for that matter. As an only child, I can pretty much entertain myself to a large extent. Only after living here can I honestly say that I have felt boredom. This only happens when your house is clean (or as clean as your going to get it), the laundry is done, there is nothing to cook and you've read every single book in the house, including the Bible and dictionary, you have nothing to write in your diary and you're not tired enough to take a nap again.

OK, campers, enjoy being hot and dry and entertained. Take care.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

life and going to hell in the handbasket

You know... some days its really not worth getting out of bed. It's been like that for a week or actually closer to a month. It's really upped my cookie consumption.

*Found out that Friend Princess Megan has Hodgkins a week before her wedding. She's doing good and really positive, so a big yeah for her! She's made promises of pics of the new pre-chemo hair-do, so I'm looking forward to this. This, of course, will go next to her wedding pics that shows the world that she is super-shundor (beautiful).

*On the 22nd of July, my Honey Rana's middle sister Lata had an emergency C-section and gave birth to Nosim Sama who has spina bifida (of the two forms, the bad one). It's questionable if she will survive. This is what you get in the thirld world... prenatal care that sucks if you can even get any. And if she does survive to adulthood, she'll have survived not only her disability, but also a culture that is not open to such things (most people who have any physical/mental disabilities are either locked away or are beggars).

*Then on the 2nd of August, my dad's younger brother, Uncle Fred, had a heart attack and died about 12 hours later. He was 8 days short of his 54th birthday. I can't hardly imagine what the rest of my family is going through. Today is the viewing and tomorrow is the funeral. Please keep his wife, kids, grandkids, mom and other assorted family members in your thoughts and prayers.

*On top of all this, I really don't like my job currently. Small potatoes in the great scheme of things, I know, but I spend 40+ hours a week doing it, so that's a chunck of time I'm doing something I don't like. Not cool, so I'm going to do something about it. As soon as I have a plan. Glitch. (Shhh... don't tell Mom, she gets upset when she thinks that I might, potentially, be unemployed!)

So, campers, count your blessings one by one. Until I can see through the fog, it's cookie time for me. Ugh... my ass is going to be so huge, it's not going to be funny.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

where in the world?

Aloha friends and family. I've been not busy at work or play, so not alot to report on as of late. For those concerned, I'm not near the flooding in South Asia. Its happening in Mumbai (Bombay) and that's around 1,000 KM away from me the other side of India. As you can see, I'm neighbors with Myanmar (Burma), Bhutan and Nepal and surrounded almost completely by India. To the north of Bangladesh is the Indian states of Assam and Darjeeling, where the most expensive tea in the world is grown. Bangladesh also grows a medium grade tea in Sylhet, but it's not at a high enough altitude to grow the really good stuff. However, Rajshahi (where I was posted as a PCV) grows some of the best mangoes in the world. That also goes across the border into India and the Malta Mango.
Well, folks, that's your geography lesson for today. Hope this clears up where in the world I am. And for the pre-'71 grads, Bangladesh was East Pakistan from '48-'71 and India's state of East Bengal pre-'48. That is why Kolkutta (Calcutta) is in the state of West Bengal and it has no East counterpart. Confusing? You bet. But if you're in the neighborhood, just swing on by! Houseguests are considered a gift from Allah in Muslim households, so that means you always can get a snack and tea at least 85% of the time here. Thank goodness for that or I would have starved in Rajshahi!!!

Sunday, July 24, 2005

birthday girl

Yeah for me. I'm officially 28 and it was a good birthday. After work, I met up with Roommie Carrie and New Roommie Aliza and went to the American Club for dinner. We met up TronBhai and his Bo Miranda and Walzak. Yep, you guessed it... former PC meeting for a drink at the pub. Carrie brought a chocolate cake and my cake was aflame with all 28 candles! My Honey Rana couldn't be here for the day, but that couldn't be helped, so it wasn't perfect. Otherwise, it was a good day. The folks even called from America on my mobile, so I got a parental blessing on the day, to boot.

wedding sari picture

So this is the promised sari picture, courtesy of Roomie Carrie. As you can tell, it is heavy gorgeous and just plain HEAVY!!! The sucker must of weighed 20 pounds. I needed help to get into a standing position. Somehow, I just don't think this 63, 000 taka (1,000 USD) sari will be bought by me anytime in the future. But it's fun to look! I still need to go to Mirpur 11 and look at the wide variety of wedding sari shops that the neighborhood is renown for. I'll keep you all in the loop when that happens. Have fun! ~Laura

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


Harry has been read. I won't ruin the end for others, but it is a sadder ending than I anticipated. It was a very tall book, but a quick read. That's the bonus of reading a kids book. However, onward... Roomie Carrie and I are going pearl shopping for Cousin Danielle this evening. Cousin Danielle is getting married Sept. 2006, but she likes planning ahead. So, we're off to buy 14 sets of necklace/earring sets. I just hope that she likes them all. Fingers crossed. Luckily for me, pearls are cheap here and are a continuous fav at home. yeah for me! If there are any 'orders' for pearls from family and friends, just email me and for a small, nominal fee, a lovely set of pearls can be yours.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

my inner child is at the bookstore...

Aloha All! Life is very calm as of late and I'm enjoying the leisure time to pursue reading. I'm darn happy that the newest Harry Potter came out and to celebrate, I bought a copy yesterday (I let the kids have the first day) and have knocked down a few chapters already. The only glitch is that I'm having a hard time remembering the last book in detail. It's hard getting older - the memory isn't the same. My mom recently told me, "Laura, don't grow old. It's a b*tch.". Shock me to no end to hear that flying out of her mouth, but I'm sure she meant it in the best possible way.... :D So, if you don't hear from me in the near future, please know it's not from lack of love, but I've got a few hundred pages to go and so little time...

Sunday, July 10, 2005

wedding sari shopping

Wedding sari shopping is really a different experience! As normal, I looked at a bajillion saris and didn't pick one. However, not like normal, I about had a canary when I heard the price. Between 60 to 63 THOUSAND taka for 1 sari. In US dollars, that's about a thousand bucks. While some would consider that a bargain price for a heavily beaded sari with satin petticoat and a large dupatta (scarf-like thing), I think that I will keep looking. My roommate Carrie went along with me on this adventure. I'll try to get a photo of me in this get-up. It took two guys to rig it and the one guy 'stylized' me. He had me looking down, like a shy, sweet, young 'Deshi bride. Too bad that isn't going to happen in real life!

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July! While it's not quite the same being abroad during national holidays, I still enjoy thinking back to when I was younger and being on a boat out on the water during the fireworks. You don't know where to look ~ in the sky or the reflection on the water. Enjoy the holiday fully and take care getting home. ~Laura

Saturday, July 02, 2005

The rainy season is here!

Yeah! I am so happy that the monsoon has burst into action and there is rain and more rain in the foreseeable future! Yes, I had to wade through water this morning to get to a CNG on my way to work, but it's cool out! Yeah!!!! It great weather to stay in bed and read fluffer novels. Or even, non-fluffers. Just to lay about and read. Also, all of the 'Deshi ladies are cooking kitchori, which is my favorite! It's rice and dhal cooked together with spices and tons of tumeric, so your hand is yellow after eating. With a nice hard-boiled egg that's been fried in coconut milk, is really the best. Yummmm! Just make sure that everything is aired out and if it's cotton, then send it to the ironing shop to be pressed. Enjoy this late start to the monsoon. ~Laura

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


Aloha! This is a new cyber-adventure and we'll just see how it goes! Please be patient and I promise to add stuff, as soon as I have stuff to add! And figure how to put said stuff on the web. Glitch. Onward. So, be patient. ~Laura, your fav Bideshi Bhabhi-wanna-be