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, 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.