16 January 2008

Week 19: Dhanmondi Lake cures stomach problems

19th-1st in Dhaka 1/9

Saw a girl take a bad step into the drain today. Bleh. Let me explain. The drainage sewers here are right on the side of the road. They are open concrete lined pits or slight indentations next to the road. They are dug for rainwater, but ultimately are for other liquids as well. Some of these liquids include urine. Men can be frequently seen peeing on the side of the street. This can be done either by squatting or by standing, but most prefer to squat. This is because most are wearing a lungi, and that is well-suited for squatting.

Anyway, with all of that entering the drainage pits, they have this solid slime layer on top, and are all are unpleasantly colored. Typically they’re covered by concrete slabs which in turn become a sidewalk of sorts. Many times there are gaps, and you have to hop over them, not very far, but you do. Well sometimes they’re not there at all. The girl who fell in today, she came off the bus and was rushing and didn’t look where she was going, and she took a wrong step into a ditch full of sludge at least 10 inches deep. It was very gross. I couldn’t imagine what she was feeling after. I’m hope she went home and bathed for hours.(pics: drainage sewer covered by concrete slabs with breaks in between slabs which one could trip through, drainage sewer on side of road with some garbage in it, open sewer holes are not a rare site so watch your step!, drainage sewer with layer of slime on top)

Went to Agora to buy some food products such as milk, muesli, and peanut butter. Agora, like Lavender and Pick ‘n Pay are the nicer grocery stores here with lots of items you can’t find elsewhere. This includes peanut butter which has no found a place in the diet of most Bangladeshis. Cheese as well is there, which is hard to find beyond ponir, Bangladeshi cheese, a harder version of paneer. Agora is a good place for foreigners to shop because of the fixed prices. Elsewhere you may get ripped off be, but here you’re guaranteed to get the proper price each time, even if it’s a bit higher. This time I just wanted those three thigns. Couldn’t find muesli, but bought cereal instead, Kellogg’s mango corn flakes. Hopefully good.

Feeling sick in the morning. Feeling sick in the afternoon, and it started to clear up around 2. But later it started hurting again. I don’t know why. Went to Dominou’s pizza for dinner. Ordered some soup and a hot sub sandwich. Ate half the soup and wrapped the sandwich to bring home.

Came home. Moaned. My stomach hurt horribly.

19th-2nd in Dhaka 1/10

Today was spent at home. Sick. Taking ORSaline to replenish all fluids and electrolytes. Watched movies, played on internet, posted blog. Went out and collected some stock photos for the blog. Bought some crackers and peanuts to eat since they are simple foods I could digest.

With nothing else to say, I’ll include something from the list of stuff I have called “Things to write about in blog.” Today: police handling traffic. Since traffic lights aren’t really followed, human traffic enforcement is needed. Yes there are signals, but rarely are they obeyed. Running a red light isn’t even a second thought. So to keep the order at intersections cops are out there. They wear green shirts with white sleeves and blue pants. They carry sticks and they use these sticks to point in directions for traffic, but also to hit vehicles which are misbehaving, especially rickshaws. A rickshaw which is not listening to them they will wack with the stick against the rickshaw hard. They do their job as best as they can. It’s tough to handle the traffic and they do their best to control the busy intersections as a team. They also frequently wear masks since they are around the vehicles’ exhaust all day.(pic: police officer managing the intersection with stick in hand and mask covering his nose and mouth)

19th-3rd in Dhaka 1/11

Again not much today. Enjoyed some cereal in the morning for breakfast. Was honestly very delicious to have cereal for the first time in a long time.

For lunch made PB&J after going to Almas Super Shop to buy some good jam. Also bought some muesli and enjoyed that as well.

In the afternoon I went on a walk around Dhanmondi lake. Was feeling a bit better and bit more energized with actual food in my stomach. The lake is really long all the way around since arms of it stretch in every direction. The walking path is very nice, and I want to start running on it when I start feeling better. The bridges that cross the lake are neat, and I love to just meander in all the directions. There are people everywhere. The paths are very near clogged, but I think it’s nice, so many people enjoying themselves. Mostly men though, as that’s who’s always out and about in Bangladesh. There was some concert going on alongside the lake at the outdoor theater, and it was being sponsored by some banana chip company. They were blasting their minute long advertising jingle over and over. I can’t believe people didn’t leave, because it would easily drive me nuts. I sat and read the NCSU newsletter my parents sent me, and just enjoyed being outside. Haven’t been outside much while sick.

Actually ate the dinner the boua made and talked to her today, asking her name and if she could cook some of my favorite Bangladeshi foods.

Bunch of the CCR16 group came over. CCR16 is the group of people who graduated from Cadet College Rangpur Batch #16. This includes Saifullah, Mohan, Moin, Bapi, Shibli, and many others. They all are great friends even 12 years after Cadet College ended. Four of them came over to Mohan’s and my place. Ate some dinner and we played card games. Learned 29, a real good strategy game that lasts for a long time. Must be great for long trips. Glad I picked this one up.

19th-4th in Dhaka 1/12

Another day where I pretty much stayed at home. Eating simple foods still. PB&J. Bananas. Cereal. Muesli.

Went and got a haircut. They cut it a bit too close! Uh oh! Now I think I look like a professional soccer player, where they only keep a little bit of hair because of all the ball heading. Oh well, it’ll grow. This time I went to a nicer saloon because it was a fixed price, and they have clippers, not just scissors. But they don’t restrain themselves with such powerful tools. Next time I’ll go back to streetside saloon. I might gone today, but all were crowded since it was a weekend.

Started looking at grad schools and fellowships, such as the NSF. Realized I need to start considering this stuff. I know it’s early, but it’s never too early. I’m nervous. Thinking about the whole application process. Thinking about all I’ll have to propose. Thinking of recommendation letters. It’s all so much.

Megan and Aaron came to Dhanmondi. They were going to a couchsurfing “convention” aka a meeting at café mango for couchsurfers and those hosting in Bangladesh. If you don’t know what couchsurfing is, it’s this phenomenon where people post that they have couches for people to sleep on, and when traveling, you can crash at their place. I was first told about it by Spencer Sawyer, a guy on the rowing team. Sawyer is like 6’4” and 200 pounds, so my friend Danny Heater joked that maybe we all would feel comfortable crashing at a stranger’s home if we were Sawyer’s size too. That thought in mind, I didn’t sign up then. Well after tonight, I decided to give it a shot. I may couchsurf someday, but I’d like to host for now if possible.

Anyway, we met at café mango, and I got some soup because I was real hungry and but couldn’t still eat too much because my stomach is still readjusting. Some people were couchsurfers, some were hosts. But mostly chatted with Aaron and Megan because I hadn’t seen them in awhile, and didn’t have any couchsurfing stories to tell.

Took a rickshaw back to my place. I showed them my apartment. Was happy to show. Mohan and Bapi were also there and they talked to Megan and Aaron.

Bapi told me something really neat after Megan and Aaron left. He said he feels that it is his responsibility, as well as all Bangladeshis, to make foreigners who come to aid his country feel especially welcome, and invite them to his home to feed them. It’s them, he said, who’ve come all around the world, to work for near nothing, but to help his country and its people. Thus he feels because of this, the least he can offer is to welcome them to his home and feed them With this thought in mind, I understand more the reasoning behind why I’m always getting invitations to people’s places to eat.

19th-5th in Dhaka 1/13

In the mid-morning I took a walk around Dhanmondi Lake. A nice walk, just to celebrate internally feeling healthier. I really enjoy the scenery and people watching. Glad to take the morning to do this. Made me feel refreshed and prepared for the day.

Also talked to Diya online how I wanted to play badminton, and she told me her friend and neighbor Oyon plays. So she gave me his cell and I got in contact with him. Made plans to come over this night to play. They play on his roof on a court he puts together (by that I mean puts up the lights and the net.)

BUET ended up being successful today. Arrived just after eating my lunch at home. Waited around the ARC for Sohel. Asked him about the library and tips on how I can find what I want. He told me to ask the librarians for the catalog. Also told me to find a man named Rofiq who could help me locate things in the traffic lab. While there I also asked for permission from Dr. Haque if I could make a copy of one of his papers in his private collection, and he agreed and got the copy made for me.

Sohel is a good guy and I’m glad to have met him. He talked to me how he used to like to play sports, but as he got older, his observance of Islam did not allow that to coincide with his life. As a religious person, the clothing he must wear for his religion is not suited for playing sports. So although he still loves cricket, badminton, and football, he no longer plays because of Islam. It is the sacrifice you make for your lord.

Found the catalog in the library by asking the librarian. It was a book with a list of all the MS and PhD thesis papers over the years. As I paged through it, I saw it’s organized by date, and then by author and title. So by going to the year 1991 I could see the few thesis papers from that year, then get the three digit number assigned to that paper, and then look for it on the shelf. The shelf, as I saw before is not organized, but now I knew what the numbers on some of the bound papers meant (not all papers had a number.) The first paper I looked for wasn’t amongst the random papers. Searched for the next, and success, I found it! Was pretty excited to find it. Then had the confidence to ask the librarian where the paper I was looking for was. He pulled out this list of professors’ names, and next to some of the names there were papers’ numbers. Well he told me Dr. Hossain Ali had the paper I was looking for. Not sure why he’s the “caretaker”, but he is. Librarian found the office number for me. Tried to go by his office but he wasn’t in.

Dropped by traffic lab and it was open for first time ever, and I looked inside and saw a guy, and he turned out to be Rofiq Islam, the guy who runs the lab. I asked him about one of the documents I was looking for, and he told me to sit while he went to look for it. It was a big document and he came back with several volumes of books. He also showed his catalogue for the lab of the undergraduate and graduate papers they had on file. Showed me that they had also many measurement tools and devices. He’s an undergrad at another university at night but is running this lab during the day.

He and I went to the BUET canteen and had a cup of Nescafe coffee and talked about engineering. We both commented on how we wished undergraduate students in their final projects would not repeat the same projects year after year. That they would see what has come before them and build upon that.

Played badminton tonight. Went over to Oyon’s building, technically also Farhanaz’s and Diya’s building as well. Went to buy some shuttlecocks. Apparently since we play on the roof we lose a lot. We bought 6.

Badminton was fun. Will be more fun other nights. This night it was a bit too windy, the downside of playing on the roof. We lost all 6 shuttlecocks, couldn’t believe it. The guys and I are all similarly skilled. All the lights and net are Oyon’s and we set them up before we play and take them down after.

Spent some time learning about the Islamic New Year which happened apparently three days ago on January 10th. The new year isn’t really celebrated in Bangladesh as Mohan explained to me, except by extra prayer at the mosque, which unless you go regularly, you wouldn’t go to hear. Neat fact, 2008 is one of the years in which the Islamic year will fall entirely within the Gregorian calendar. This happens every 33 years. The new year is marked from the year the prophet Muhammad moved from Mecca to Medina. I did notice the new moon, and thus I knew a month was changing, but no signs that it was the new year from what I could tell. Of course I was also in the house being sick.

19th-6th in Dhaka 1/14

Spent the morning in the library reading the thesis paper on pedestrian underpasses. Kids were collecting their grades in the library, so there was a constant stream of students. Faisal came by, a friend I met on New Years, and we exchanged hellos after he got his grades. The report was less focused on the pedestrians and more on the traffic. Instead of a safety study, it was more of an flow study and the pedestrians were causing a delay.

Met up with Ayon and his friends from DU for lunch. They took me to this place called Mama, which is on top of Nilkhet Market, literally. It’s on the roof. You climb onto the roof via some back stairs, and way on the other side are three eateries, and one is Mama. First time eating out like this since being sick. They said it has been a popular place among DU and BUET students for a long time.

Went back to BUET. Spent afternoon researching bus delay caused by overcrowding. Not much that I’m finding, really need to find where they are hiding.

Found the bus that can take me from Jigatola to BUET and back. Local bus #13. From the bus stops it’s a short walk on either end. And it’s more comfortable, cheaper, safer, and quicker than a rickshaw. Comfortable in that the bus has nicer seats and the ride is less bumpy. Cheaper in that a rickshaw costs Tk25-30 each way, this cost Tk2….7% at best! Safer because it is less likely to be mugged, and less likely to get in a serious accident. Rickshaw riding can sometimes be very scary. And lastly, it’s quicker because a bus not only goes faster, but can take the main roads.

Stayed home, read a bit of Dune. Just starting on it. My dad’s copy. I’ve heard about it over the years from many people. Especially form Saket. And since the remake of the movie is coming out, and Saket is raving about it on his blog, and even started a fan page called Sands of Arrakis. I decided it was time to pick it up. Saket warned me the first 50 pages can be tough because of all the new jargon, so with that in mind, I’m starting to plow through.

Went to play badminton. Less wind and got a bunch of games in. Glad to have found this group. A seventh guy came tonight.

19th-7th in Dhaka 1/15

Today was “go to Gulshan and get things done and meet up with friends” day. First up was to meet with Saifullah at his new office, check it out, and get my badminton racket back after a month. He has a real cool new job. He came over with his boss from Aktel, and is part of a team which will be developing a new product line for ACI, a company that specializes in dry goods. He’ll be in charge or marketing and gets develop his own team below him. Sounds like he’s going have a good time with it. He’s real excited about all the possibilities.

Next up was to go to Banani and get more packages from the American Center. Some from my parents, the rest of the holiday gifts. Unpacked them all from the boxes and put them in my bag.

Next headed down to A&W where I was meeting up with Risal for lunch since he works right nearby. We had set this up since I was coming to Gulshan and he works there, and we had wanted to meet up more often. Farabi and his cousin also came by. The four of us enjoyed lunch together. Root beer was delicious. Burger and chicken strips hit the spot as well.

After went back to Farabi’s uncle’s house with him and spent the afternoon with him. He was two years behind me in Science and Engineering Specialized Learning Center at Manalapan High School. He’s visiting for 2.5 weeks with family and such before Rutgers starts back up, first time in twelve years. I knew he’d be coming and we’d planned to meet up while he was here. Had a second lunch with his cousins, real good home cooked food. We went to Gulshan youth club, which his apartment building was right behind, and played a few games of badminton. Later we went to cofi11 for some iced mochas. His aunt served us some chingaras, but they were ponir filled (see above)! Yummm. Like mozzarella sticks.

Lastly went to KFC to meet with Ashrafi, a guy from the Bandarban trip who asked to meet with me. He just got a visa to the United States, and wanted to talk to me about it. He will be there thanks to a company which brings good candidates to the US in his IT field and sets them up with companies. If he gets a job with one of those companies, he gets to stay and then extend his visa as necessary. He’ll be sent to Jersey City, and he will be interviewing at Exchange Place, right near where my friend Chris Rappa works! I’m going to try to make sure the two of them meet up. Also since he’s going to be in New Jersey, I hope takes my offer to go to my parents’ house and meet them.

He wants to practice his English with me to get ready for the interviews, so I’m only to speak English to him! Also he was saying he needs get used to an American accent, but what’s even cooler is that I’m providing him with New Jersey accent practice! Real excited he’s going to my home state. He asked me if the people are very friendly in New Jersey. I couldn’t lie. I told him that New Jersey might be regarded as one of the rudest and least friendly states in the US by most Americans. I didn’t want to lead him astray. But I did talk about Jersey to him for the next half hour and all the great stuff about it.

When I got back, quickly changed and headed to Oyon’s house for badminton. Played a bunch of good doubles matches tonight. I get so competitive and apparently I’m never smiling when playing. Well it’s the competition what I enjoy most, and we’re all evenly matched, so it’s a lot of fun. I’m getting back to my previous form more each night, more confident in my hits. Glad to have my racket back too, feel much better playing with it.


Diya said...

Wasn't that mid-morning walk with me?

Saket said...

another great post Donny. i think after another month or so your body will be able to withstand anything you eat. :)

the observations about what Bapi and Sohel told you were very poignant.

What address do we use to send items to the American Center?

- saket

Daniel said...

Awesome about Dune, Its pretty cool someone wants to learn more of the American English instead of British, I always wished more Americans abroad taught English.