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

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!

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