Michael P

Wild goose chase
September 29, 2008, 8:58 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I went to banani after teaching to get some lunch at a place called Dhaba and go to coffee world before heading to the us embassy to get my absentee ballot figured out. I could print a thing out and send it in, but i don’t have a printer and i kind of wanted to see what the embassy was like. I got to banani at 11 and the embassy didn’t open until 1. unfortunately i couldn’t get naan and kebabs at dhaba because they were closed, so i had to settle for some pizza at coffee world. It was ok.
After killing a bunch of time at coffee world i headed off to the embassy. It was in the neighboring part of dhaka. when i got there they told me to turn off my phone before going in and told me that laptops weren’t allowed. I didn’t have anywhere i could leave my laptop while i went in. I got really frustrated, told them that was a stupid rule, and tried to get a cng back to uttara to drop off my laptop and return to the embassy. Like 10 cng drivers crowded around me all yelling at me in bangla. I didn’t know what they were saying and some guys that spoke a little english helped me out and got a cng for me to uttara. Then i had to driver wait while i dropped off my stuff and headed back to the embassy. I thought there would be other americans in the embassy, but i only saw bangladeshis waiting for visas. There were like 100-150 of them all waiting. I got the american citizen section and figured out that because of ramadan the hours are 1-3pm instead of 1-4. It was 3:15. I left, frustrated again, feeling extremely dissapointed in my country’s operating hours and regulations.
I had the same situation for getting a cng when i got out. Luckily the guys that helped me earlier kept calling me towards them. They asked me why i was back and i told them my story of how i couldn’t take my computer in and how they are closed because of ramadan. Popco, the guy who spoke the most english, helped me get another cng. I offered to buy him an RC cola for helping me out (twice) but he said he was fasting so he couldn’t drink anything.

When i got back to the center there were classes going on and i didn’t want to disturb anyone so i hung out with the kids. We watched some BBC World News and hung out on the roof. Ridoi tried on my raybans.


more tiktikis
September 28, 2008, 3:42 pm
Filed under: culture, Uncategorized | Tags: ,

today i didn’t really do much. I got up at my usual 7 am for breakfast, went back to sleep until 11, and went to church (Bengladeshi) at 5. Usually i have dinner with pastor Ayub on sunday evenings, but he’s traveling so i had dinner with his son. In malaysia and here in bangladesh i’ve taken an interest in what the life of a teenager is like. His son goes to school everyday but friday. It starts at 8 am and sometimes doesn’t end until 6 pm. That sounds rough. I remember how great 3 day weekends were in high school. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to go to school 6 days a week.

More tiktikis…

biryani saturdays
September 27, 2008, 11:57 am
Filed under: teaching

today i taught to my class of PCB staff members. As i wrote earlier, i had it all planned out and it went just as well as i was expecting. It was a pretty good feeling when the first person figured out what i was trying to get across to them, then explained it to the rest of the class. Then there was this “oooooooooooooohhhhhh” moment from the entire class where it all clicked and my roll as a teacher got much easier. Needless to say, this boosted my confidence as a teacher and makes me feel like i might actually (maybe) know what i’m doing. One example that i used that i liked was that my dad probably wasn’t building the new shed/guest cottage in the backyard at this very moment (it was like 12 am back home), but he is building it over the next few weekends. I used that to explain that the present continuous can be and ongoing action that hasn’t yet been completed yet. it’s weird to have to explain the english language to people that don’t find it logical. it might make complete sense to you and me, but it hard to step outside of your own understanding and break it down for someone who has no prior knowledge of the concept. i have a lot more respect for my spanish teachers in middle school and high school now.
After teaching i we all had biryani. I really like biryani. Its a slow cooked rice dish with lots of spices and usually meat. It’s not originally from bangladeshi, but i think its my favorite food that bangladeshi’s eat. The stuff we always get comes in a mini cardboard box and has some sort of cow joint on it. there isn’t much meat to be had, but the meed that is contained on the joint is very flavorfull. before eating i got in a discussion with one student about the food in america. He was amazed to hear that we didn’t eat rice everyday and that i had really never had daal before coming to bangladesh. I explained that we don’t have silverfish (the national fish of bangladesh) in america and you can’t import any bangladeshi fish into america. It was hard to explain to him that sometimes i have italian food, or mexican, etc. I did show him a burrito on google images and explained how i usually have at least one burrito per week. In the picture of the burrito he pointed out the rice inside. bangladeshi food seems to be more utilitarian. When he would talk about a food he would talk about how much protein it had compared to other and he seemed to treat it more like fuel. good lentils have more protein per kg than chicken or beef, for example. more on bangladeshi food

Grammar books and cheeseburgers
September 26, 2008, 4:10 pm
Filed under: teaching

today is friday, which means i go to church and speak english. Besides the going to church and speaking english part i was also excited to get some grammar books from a teacher that i met at that going away party that i went to last friday. I got books, as you can see above. They have all sorts of exercises and stuff like that. But to be honest, i don’t think i’ll get much use out of them. one problem that i’d been having is that i would not be able to explain the concept in a simple manner. I’ve been wanting to teach the present continuous (…ing words) to my PCB staff class. It’s tomorrow and i was hoping these books would help, they don’t really. But i did manage to find some really, really good websites that explained how to teach stuff and also had tons of exercies. its funny how 3 months ago the things that got me excited on the internet were new light bike parts and old russian cameras, now its the present continuous and different grammar websites. I have a whole lesson planned out for tomorrow. lately i’ve been just winging it, but i’m ready for tomorrow.
And the cheeseburger part… after church the youth pastor and his wife invited me to the canadian club with some other people. I had a big “canadian club” burger with bacon and cheese. It was amazing. It also came with french fries and pickle. i never realized how much i missed pickles. They only had huntz ketchup. I haven’t had heinz ketchup at all in asia. To be honest, its far superior to anything else. all the other stuff just doens’t taste the same. but besides the ketchup, the whole meal was a very nice departure from rice, daal, and all things curry.
Now, i’m loungin’ in my lungi making my grammar lesson.

cultural differences
September 26, 2008, 7:43 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

not much is new here. at the end of my class on wednesday i asked my class if they understood what i had been teaching. it’s hard to tell if they are actually understanding what’s going on. Many times i’ll ask if they understand when i tell them to do something and they will just stare at me and not do what i told them to do. I’ve heard that for them to say “I don’t understand” is viewed as an insult to the person giving instructions, so they say they understand as a form of being polite, even thought it doesn’t get me anywhere.
anyways, i asked if they understood, they said yes, then i gave them a thumbs up as to say “ok, good”. I immediately realized that the thumbs up meant something different here and apologized. the entire class started laughing and gave me the thumbs up back. true story.

foot details
September 23, 2008, 4:33 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

so i went to the doctor today (twice) to get an x-ray then to get the cast removed. the doctor didn’t have the cutter, so he had to borrow it from the US embassy. When i arrived at 7pm to get it removed, the power was out (typical here) so i had to wait an hour before the power came go back on. The tool was like a glorified dremel that looked like it was from the 50’s. regardless of its age, it did the job. my foot was really gross when it saw the light of day for the first time since august 9th. I was half expecting bugs and a gross rash to be on my foot when the cast was removed, but luckily there was nothing but a bunch of gross dead skin. I thought stuff was crawling around in my cast and it didn’t seem to far fetched since there are lots of bugs here.
After the doctor i had to find a way home. I was about 25 minutes from uttara. It took about 10 minutes to walk to the main road, then it took like 20 minutes to get a cng to take me back. Walking feels pretty weird. my left leg has atrophied pretty badly. my calf and quad are visibly smaller than the right side. i just tried jumping up and down on my left leg to see how it would feel, but i can’t. My leg is too weak. the spot where i broke my foot is slightly swollen and it still kind of hurts, so i’ll be taking it easy for a while before i get back to my normal 10k run every morning.



in the second picture, I’m wearing a lungi. It’s the traditional dress for men here. I told my students that i liked lungis and they went out and bought me two. They are super comfortable.

No more cast
September 23, 2008, 1:52 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized