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

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.