19 June 2008

Week 41: Second cricket loss, first time trapped in an elevator, several disruptive power outages

41st-1st in Dhaka 6/11

I’ve noticed that the midday highs and the nightly lows are now only separated by three to five degrees in the weather forecasts. It seems like the heat is trapped, and nights don’t really cool down anymore.

Took Ben to lunch to try some foods that, honestly, I don’t eat anymore here. At least one I used to love, biryani. The other, borhani, I’ve never liked the few times I’ve tried it.

After spending the morning at home, we went to New Market to pick up our clothing from the tailor. Everything fit very well, and we were happy with our results. Ben now has the task of bringing his stuff around the world. We also ordered some beach-like shirts, one for each of us, and went to a button store to choose what buttons we’d like. We walked around the market for awhile after looking for some items of interest.

We then headed to Gulshan for Aaron’s goodbye party. He leaves tomorrow morning. I’d never really been to any of the foreign clubs in Dhaka, and was amazed to see the luxury some people choose to enjoy. Tonight was their weekly cookout, with a variety of meats, including pig, which you never see in Bangladesh. I got chicken skewers, Ben got shrimp skewers. Lots of people came to bid their goodbyes to Aaron. The system they work on here for payment is through a complex booklet you have to buy of a set cost. As a result, Ben and I were left with $8.50 (yes dollars) of credit, so we bought a double cappuccino, a latte, and a slice of cheesecake.

41st-2nd in Dhaka 6/12

Today is Ben’s last full day in Bangladesh. We were at home in the morning, Ben had to plan out a lot of things for his trip to India, and my slow internet makes that a long process. I went out and made some copies of things for him: maps, plane tickets, etc.

The day was centered around an international cricket match between Bangladesh and India at Mirpur Stadium. The game is the third One Day International match between the three nations in the Tri Nations Series: India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Bangladesh had already lost to Pakistan, and India had beaten Pakistan, so things were not looking up for Bangladesh’s match versus India (well, honestly that is known weeks beforehand.)

I had to pick up tickets for Luke and his friend Stephanie who were coming later, so I told Ben and Ayon to go inside and I’d meet them there. The ticket counter had three windows, two for the cheap Gallery seats, and one for the Reserved and VVIP seats. Well despite the prices attached to those latter tickets, that particular line was the only one that went through a giant mud puddle. You had to walk along the bamboo handrails separating the lines to stay out of the puddle. There are always penalties for sitting in the better seats.

I met up with everyone inside, already there along with Ben and Ayon were Hridoy (Ayon and Jayita’s cousin), Jayita, and her fiancée Apurba. Later Opu would arrive, and then finally Luke and Stephanie later on. (pic: Hridoy/Opu/Ayon/Ben at the match having a serious discussion on the state of Bangladeshi cricket)

Bangladesh had chosen to bat first, and the inning went well, they scored 222 runs and lost their last wicket in the final over. It looked like Bangladesh could have a fighting chance if they played well defensively in the second inning. The game was quite warm, and the sun blared on us for about an hour, causing people around to shield themselves with whatever they had around (flags, hats, bookbags.) We had several bottles of cold beverages and two ice creams to keep cool. (pics: India bowls to Bangladesh in the Tri-Nations Series, Ben/Opu/Hridoy/Jayita watch the match, Bangladeshi cricket supporters waving the national flag, blocking out the sun by whatever way possible)

During the innings break, a friend of Jayita’s found us. He works for the Bangladesh Cricket Board, and insisted that he bring us to the VVIP section to sit. He didn’t need to twist our arms. We arrived at this section by actually leaving the stadium and then coming back in through several security checks. But once inside, we had incredible field-side seats.

From our excellent seating position, however, we watched as Bangladesh got dismantled by India. India scored runs at a run rate of over 7.0, a high pace. The game felt a bit slower as we watched Bangladesh lose. At one point Ben and I found some excellent game food beyond the ice cream, samosas, chingaras, soda, and chips that were being sold in the stands. A meal of a chicken cutlet, two spring rolls, and an excellent bread roll. Our friends left slowly, Jayita and Apurba first, Luke and Stephanie next. At the end of the match, only Ayon, Opu, Hridoy, Ben and I were left to cheer on two end-game wickets collected by Bangladesh. (pics: Ben/myself in our new seats, field view from the new seats)

Upon coming home, Ben wanted to update his blog one last time, and get packed. Meanwhile we also watched the movie Darjeeling Limited. A perfect fit since Ben is about to go across India.

41st-3rd in Dhaka 6/13

Got up very early and brought Ben to the bus counter to leave for Kolkata. No issues, he boarded, and is now on his next leg of his world tour: India for three days before heading to Sweden to meet with his family.

Spent the middle part of the day updating the blog, posting photos, and applying for jobs. Also caught up on all the blogs I read, as I’d stopped reading when Ben was here.

Moweena didn’t show up, so I didn’t have a fresh breakfast. This resulted in me not eating much today. I finally got lunch around 4pm, and it was just then that Jen and Ben called to invite me over for dinner at their place tonight. Good thing I didn’t order too much.

Before heading over to their place for dinner, a group of Muslim men came to my door. I answered, and they asked if there were any Muslims at home. They said they had come straight from mosque and they wanted to share a prayer. Finding it was only me, they proceeded to other doors. But when they came back downstairs from the floors above, I intercepted them, and inquired about what they wanted to share, and why today. It turned out that today was a great day of prayer at the mosque, and they wanted to share what they were feeling with others who had not come. They were reminding other Muslims how great it is to be a Muslim, and how great Allah is. It was neat to hear about the passion they had felt inspired to go out as groups and share. Although I didn’t get to share a prayer with them since I don’t prayers in the Koran, I was glad to be an audience to them and to hear the messages they had come to talk about.

Dinner at Jen and Ben’s was fun. Luke and Sam showed up as well, both were students with Jen last year in AIBS. Jen and Ben cooked tortillas and the appropriate fillings. It was delicious, and I ate a lot. Jen and Ben’s friends came over, two Bangladeshi girls, and this instantly changed the language of the evening to Bengali. Although they didn’t like the tortillas, we had a fun time talking with them for the hour or so they stayed.

A story I wrote for Fulbright when they requested stories from Fulbrighters got posted on the front page of their website. See the link here and in the sidebar.

41st-4th in Dhaka 6/14

Today I really got back to work. I finished the pre-processing of all my buses I had collected data on, and then processed two of those. I did this all in two different restaurants, just to get out of the house.

I had been at home all morning, doing photo stuff, getting things done online. I joined a website that allows you to find travel partners. Ever since Landon got word from his company that he can’t come with me to Southeast Asia, I’ve had a feeling of doom that I’ll be traveling alone. So I joined travelchums.com and a few others. Looking forward to seeing what happens.

But I was also feeling real sick today for some reason. After being out working, I was feeling exhausted. Beat down. Weak. Worn out. I put a movie on and sat and enjoyed, didn’t feel like moving. After the movie was over, I just shut my eyes and slept right where I was. I was too tired to get up to brush my teeth or shower. Finally around 1AM, I woke up, showered, and went to my real bed.

41st-5th in Dhaka 6/15

Woke up feeling very refreshed. Got a reply on travelchums from someone wanting to travel. That was great! Hope more show up. Signed up for a bunch more travel buddy websites, and posted on a few message boards. Hope some of these are effective. I would think people who post on there, or are active, are actually wanting to make something of their time there.

Talked to Dad since it was Father’s Day. That was very nice. Would be great to be at home sharing it with him, would be a real treat.

Processed three buses today. Local buses take longer to process than ticket buses because there are more stops, and more boards and alights per stop, and the stops are longer. This all adds up to what feels like less productivity. I don’t get as frequent feelings of completion because I go through stops and buses so slowly.

Felt very sick again at night. Couldn’t take my cold shower. Wore a shirt to bed for the first time since winter. Then woke up middle of the night sweating. Was up for awhile lying in bed.

41st-6th in Dhaka 6/16

Today Shegufta had promised to start working with me on a more regular basis. We planned to meet in BUET’s computer lab at 10. I gave her the bus stop data to process. Although this takes a longer amount of time, I felt because it involved less types of data to work with while still requiring a fairly active regiment of work, as compared to uploading information to the database, it was fit best for her. As well, since it takes longer than the database entry, daily I can enter what she does the day before into the database quickly, and then move onto analyzing, which I haven’t done enough of yet.

Currently I’m learning visual basic and how to write macros and seeing how I can apply this to my project. This also involves making decisions on how I want to manage my data, and in what programs to analyze, and which to store.

Only hiccup of the day was when Shegufta lost all the work she’d done over 1.5 hours. I had warned her to save often because of the computer lab’s eventual power outage, and of course she didn’t save at all, and lost all her work when we lost power.

After she left, I stayed a bit longer working, and then headed out. I got in the elevator, and its doors closed, and just then the power went out. I was stuck. Then it came on, and the doors opened, and I decided it’d be smart to get out before the power goes off again, but before I could get out, the elevator reshut its doors (it seemed to be restarting a routine) and started going down. Just as we were going down the power went out again. I sat there wondering what happens when you’re stuck in an elevator when the power is out. Power went back on again, and the elevator started moving again, and reached the bottom floor, but the doors wouldn’t open. I was there for 10 minutes with some man outside telling me to “wait.” Then magically the doors opened, and he wasn’t even standing there, and I left the building.

I came home and spent a lot of time working on visual basic, learning more of what it can do and practicing writing small programs with my excel tables. I enjoy learning new programs, even though I don’t pursue new ones actively.

It got windy this evening, and a fluorescent light bulb that’d just been leaning on my balcony (Mohan left it here) got blown over and crashed, scattering glass everywhere. Had to clean that up.

41st-7th in Dhaka 6/17

Another day feeling a bit weak and tired. Not sure what’s wrong.

At BUET Shegufta processed two buses for me, while I databased two, and then spent some writing, cleaning my data in the database, and fumbling around trying to get my Visual Basic operations to work.

Spending this time at BUET with Shegufta has allowed me to ask her what the giant bell is that rings at times throughout the day. She explained the bell announces exam times during the exam period, two hours left, one hour left, finish time. Heard all over campus. A neat idea that can stay a tradition for sure.

Working in the lab more often now has allowed me to discover some of the annoyances. For one, the computers won’t allow me to run macros or visual basic operations. I don’t understand how an engineering university’s computers aren’t allowed to do this. I understand the worry that students might make harmful macros, but other universities worldwide seem to figure a way out around this.
Like many offices and schools, certain words are blocked from being to be searched through a search engine. I’ve discovered one of those words at BUET is “analysis”, a word which I think could be useful for people in the fields of science and math.
The last and most significant are the power outages. Since we are all on PCs, when the power goes out, all the PCs turn off. BUET does have a generator, but nothing more, so although power comes back quick, we lose anything that hasn’t been saved. And since the power outages come randomly, you have to save all the time. Not usually a big problem, but because the computers are slow, and my files are large, saving takes about fifteen seconds each time. This adds up and slows down productivity. Today, in five hours, we had six losses of power, one for about ten minutes. We just sit there in the dark.

I've started to learn to read Hindi in preparation for traveling to India. It's not hard now that I already read Bengali with ease. I'm using an internet website that has simple pages with the characters on them and does it's best to make lessons

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