25 October 2007

Week 7: Durga Puja and the buying of a jump rope

7th-1st in Dhaka 10/17

Was planning on going to a concert today, but Nafisa and Rizwan backed out. She because of work, and he because he thought the show wouldn’t be too good.

Spent most of the day in Café Mango, just to be out of the house and in a new environment. Typed up journal there. Got a coffee drink. Planned to do some homework, but didn’t get far, not really feeling like it. Compiled my blog entry. No internet here, so I just have it ready to go when I get some.

And the street fight tally is now at six…saw two more last week.

7th-2nd in Dhaka 10/18

Today I walked to Banani and back. Goal was to find a dry cleaner, and maybe some more Bangladeshi clothing, probably a fotua. Didn’t find any in my price range. Also shopped around for a flash drive and computer speakers. Still pricing around. Want to buy a 4GB one to backup all my pictures here.
Ended up buying two more pairs of pants since I like the ones I have so much, and they’re so cheap.

Went to Nafisa’s aunt’s house tonight. It was an Eid party. Hung out with her cousins, Nafisa, and relatives. Dinner was incredibly good, her Aunt is a great cook. I think I’ll go by this week for dinner, she keeps inviting me.

7th-3rd in Dhaka 10/19

Finding out more about my cook slowly. He has a son. He spent three years of his life in Kuwait, which he did not like. He went for work. I always have a hard time understanding him, but I think he said he cooked for a real rich household. He was upset that they would throw out their leftover food instead of reusing it. He also can speak at least five languages: Bengali, Hindi, Urdu, Arabic, and English.

Today took bus down to Dhanmondi to visit Farhanaz and her family. After getting to Dhanmondi, I found my way to Farhanaz’s house after only three wrong turns!
Her sister met me downstairs. Talked with her sister and Farhanaz before lunch. Her husband and father went to Friday prayer during this time. Her sister has very similar interests to me. She admits she and Farhanaz are exact opposites, and I have to agree. How she compared the two of them made me laugh. She’s in her last year of high school but has been reporting for the Daily Star, a big English newspaper here, on underground music for the last 2 years! Right now she’s grounded and can’t go to shows, but after January she’ll be able to go with me. She told me of all the bands I HAVE to listen to.
Farhanaz and I just talked about NCSU, things here, language. It’s so great seeing her again. I’m very happy for her that she’s having a baby. Her father and mother came in before lunch and talked to them as well in Bengali.
Lunch was deliciously prepared, Farhanaz kept saying how bad her cooking is compared to what her mom does. I thought they both are excellent cooks, but she didn’t want to hear it, very modest.
After lunch we sat in the living room and just talked. Mostly in Bengali, which is still a big deal for me. She was very happy to hear me talk though. She really is a reference point. She knows where I was at in May, and is so impressed at how far I’ve come since then. It’s almost like instant improvement for her. She was beaming. I conversed with her dad, her, her cousin, her husband, and mom. Couldn’t resist teasing her a bit, about things she said or did back in the US…they laughed…she blushed. (pic: Farhanaz/me/Diya, her younger sis)

Then got ready for wedding. Went later than expected. Jayita was running late. Finally got the call to leave. It was at the Shooting Complex south of Gulshan 1, a Tk30 rickshaw ride. The downstairs room was set up with tons of chairs facing a stage with an awning. Under the awning sat the bride, beautifully dressed, and with lots of jewelery. Jayita said this is a relatively quieter night, where both sides of the families get to meet the bride and groom, since the past few nights have restricted attendees, and the bride and groom don’t attend the other side’s holud. The upstairs is where we ate. The majority of people ate a first sitting. Then, a few of us ate after, and at the head table. I was there along with Jayita, her uncle Ayon and his friends, the bride and groom. It’s a head table, but at the same time it’s not. Not many people were left upstairs by the time we all ate. So, at that point, weren't really "head" of anything. (pics: bride and a collection of female family members, myself with Ayon and friends, dinner floor, Jayita's cousin Sreyoshi/me, at head table for dinner, bride and groom under awning)

7th-4th in Dhaka 10/20

Today Erin, Megan, and our teacher Farah left in the morning to head to two Durga Puja celebrations.
It was neat to see the sculptures of Durga destroying the demon Mahishasur, and her children on her sides. The sculptures are made every year brand new because on the third day of the festival they are thrown into the river/lake. Durga is the most important goddess to the Bengali Hindus, and thus this is their biggest holiday, a 3 day event where going to the shrine to pray in front of Durga is very important.

The first shrine we went to was in one of the city’s parks. They had a huge tent covering the permanent shrine and the Puja shrine. About fifty people were there praying, listening to a man in front of the shrine reciting from a text. One younger guy there came up to me and talked to us about what was happening. (pics: tent at park for Durga Puja, Durga Puja shrine)

We went Dhakeshwari temple after. This is the temple I went to earlier in my stay, and it was relatively empty then. Now it was packed. The sculptures we saw them working on last time were now complete and on the shrine. There were tons of food vendors, and people selling Hinduism related items. Various trinkets, bindis, jewelery, and incense. We watched people give flowers to the Puja shrine which was outside the main temple complex. Then into the main temple we went. Men and women were separated, so I was now alone. But both got to up to the shrine, just men on the left, women on the right. Offerings were being made to the main Dhakeshwari shrine. People were everywhere. Drums were played inside this temple. Lots of incense was burning. People were getting cream colored bindis drawn on their forehead. (pics: Durga Puja shrine at Dhakeshwari temple, vendors with items for Durga Puja, Dhakeshwari temple filled with celebrators, myself there.)

After getting some street food, we headed back home.

In the evening I hung out with Jayita for a bit. Then later hung out with Megan, getting dinner at Café Mango.

7th-5th in Dhaka 10/21

Glad to see the Wolfpack win, and sad to see the Indians lose.

Met Megan in the evening to have some tea and a snack from a small tea shack near our house. We talked on the streets. Later came over for dinner.

One thing I’ve been meaning to write about is that the trucks here all painted bright colors. I don’t know why. But bright blue, green, yellow, pink, red, orange adorn all the trucks. The 18-wheelers aren’t, but the dump trucks, tankers, and bed trucks are. (pics: examples of colorful trucks.)

7th-6th in Dhaka 10/22

Today I went to Dr. Haque’s office after class. We were meeting to go over the GPS stuff again. Took a bus to get there. Only Tk8…if I had taken a rickshaw, it would’ve been at least Tk40. I love these buses.

The rickshaw I took to go to Aarong afterwards brought me far from where I had specified. So I start walking down the road to Aarong. I stop in some sport stores along this road to see how much a rowing machine cost. Way too much. $200 at least, and I wouldn’t be keeping it…so not worth it. And not Concept2, some other lame brand…

At one of the stores though, I asked about the prices of some weights, a badminton racket, and a jump rope. Asked where I can play badminton around here. Guy told me most people will just gather into groups at parks and play. Cool. I’ll buy a racket later. But I bought the jump rope, a nice simple way to get cardio workout in my bedroom. Real cheap too!

Walked the rest of the way to Aarong. The store sells only Bangladeshi made items. It's supported by BRAC, an organization involved in sustainable human development. Thus by buying from there, you know the clothing supports Bangladesh. And its fashionable too, thus hip? I bought a panjabi and 2 fotua for less than the price than my last panjabi.

On the way there I got splashed by a bus going through a puddle. My sandals and lower part of pants got wet. But instead of being laughed at by the doorman and passengers, they said sorry. I was surprised, I would’ve laughed at myself. I didn’t mind. It happens.

Time Out for dinner, a courtyard which is surrounded by five restaurants. You can order from any of them, and the waiters bring it to you from there. Only of the restaurants is called Time Out, but people associate the complex with that one. I got some Mexican food, glad to have some. Nachos and a burrito. A South Asian version of these central American foods. Not so much cheese either. Bread more of the South Asian variety.
Megan came by later, and joined me to eat. Then Tamzid and Nashad came by. We all had dinner and had a good time chatting. Glad we were all hanging out.

A server offered us the Paan menu. Paan is a leaf from a certain tree, and you chew it, and it has a flavor, and will help your digestion. It typically comes wrapped around some sweet stuff, betel nut, and spices. You put the whole thing in your mouth, its big, and chew it. Tamzid and Megan encouraged me, and would join too. Nashad said it was gross. Well I guess I have to try it at least once. I did, and it was a bit too much for me. A lot to put in your mouth at once. Very interesting flavor. You chew it, “like a cow”, said Nashad grimacing. I did, you chew for at least 10 minutes. Swallowing slowly. Not sure if I’d do it again.

7th-7th in Dhaka 10/23

Went to Aktel to register my phone. This is necessary because apparently they will (might) deactivate your phone number if you don’t register it. It requires passport size photos, valid id (for me passport) and a copy of your passport (which I had to before getting there)

Registered, and let Shuvon (who works for Aktel) know I was downstairs from his office, hoping I could go up to see him and where he works. But he wouldn’t reply to texts. So after grabbing some ice cream and finding ways to stall, I headed to Gulshan 2…well he called back when I was almost back so I turned around.
It was good though. In his office for about an hour. Met his coworkers, and he showed me pictures from his most recent trip.

Picked up my pants from the tailor and my dry cleaning. Well actually left the pants there so they can move the button to the left pocket where I like to keep my wallet.

For dinner all the Fulbrighters currently here met at Harvey’s house, he is the one in charge of us here. It was a good dinner. Mexican fajitas and tacos…lots of cheese…no guacamole, dang… but I brought some salsa home for my morning eggs. It was fun to talk to all the different embassy folks who were very interested in us. Nafisa and I had a fun time talking. Also talked to Harvey’s wife about football (Wisconsin Badger), our states, etc.

And identified today where my Dad Vail wristband will break. There are two plastic layers on the bracelet, and the inner one, against my skin, has a crack that goes the full width. The outer side’s crack is growing, from both ends. It’s only a matter of days. I circled it, so I can watch the progression of the crack, and to say,“I called it” later on. (pic: Dad Vail wristband and where it will break.)


Ben G said...

*tear* for the DV band. Though mine broke like 4 weeks after the race.

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