Michael P


first week in bangladesh
September 9, 2008, 11:32 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

So i landed in Dhaka on sept. 2nd. Rev. Ayub picked met me there and dropped me off at the guesthouse where i’ll be staying for the next week or so. The drive from the airport was amazing. It was a huge traffic jam of really colorfully decorated trucks haul all sorts of stuff. Then on the side of the road there were tons of men and women breakup up the road with chisels and sledge hammers then carrying the rubble out in baskets on top of their head.
The next morning i got up at 6:45 to meet the other americans that are here who work with the organization i’m working for. At 10 Rev. Ayub picked us up and we headed north for Bherungimari. Its a town in almost the northern most point in Bangladesh. Its about 400km away. the road just outside of dhaka has tons of small brick factories on the road and off in the distance. each chimney off in the distance is a brick factory.

We drove for 5 hour and stopped in Rangpur for the night. Driving here is crazy. There really aren’t any driving rules. We were weaving in and out of traffic on a 2 lane highway all day. Somehow the driver skillfully navigated through goats, trucks, people, dogs, rickshaws, baby taxis, and cows. it was pretty nerve wracking at first, but after over 15 hours of watching it, it almost seems normal.
The next morning (9-2) we left early to make our way up to the village. We made it there at about 12. The reason for going to the village was because two of the people i was with donated money in memory of their daughter who had died a few years ago. The school is called the Elizabeth Primary School and is for grades 1-5. Here kids learn Bangla, English, math, and they have a general knowledge class. It was amazing to see how excited the local people were to have a school in their area and hear how more empowered it was making the community.

This guy below is the local leader. He was telling us how much of a positive impact the school was having. The pin on his shirt means that he was a bangladeshi freedom fighter in the ’70s.

After getting a tour of the school a talent show was put on by the students. There were local dances, singing, and poetry. Then we planted some trees and headed back south.

We stopped along the way to get lunch at a local pastors house. Then we stopped for dinner in a town called Bogra. Right outside of Bogra things got interesting. There was a huge traffic jam. We tried driving in the wrong side of the road for a while to cut all the stopped trucks, but then we were told what was going on ahead. The local people were praying at a mosque when the power was shut off. They had not lights, no PA system, so they couldn’t continue praying. They all got really mad, flooded into the road (the one were were on) and lit a baby taxi on fire. The police showed up in riot gear after a little while and finally broke up the riot. We were stopped for about an hour, but the entire thing took 3 hours. As they part of the mob was walking away they were making comments to us in Bangla about how the mob would have liked to burn our van since its a nice car and filled with americans. By this time it was about 11:30 and we still had like 4 hours to go to Dhaka.
I went to sleep once we got going but later on we had to stop get tea. Since i was awake i figured i’d go get some with the driver. Everything is really cheap here. The tea i got was 10 takka. its about 70 takka to the dollar. After tea we continued, got stuck in a traffic jam after about 10 minutes of driving, then finally got to the guesthouse in Dhaka at about 4:30 am. When we were stuck in traffic i got to admire some of the truck art that they have on the back of all of the trucks here.

After our trip up north we’ve been attending a conference just outside of dhaka. The first three days was a women’s conference, then the next three is a conference on the history of the presbyterian church. A couple of the people from the team here have been teaching. I haven’t had much to do, so i’ve been reading and working on my bangla. It’s not going too well. I’ve learned how to recognize 1-10, but i can’t say the bangla name for them yet. I’m trying to learn the alphabet, but its really hard. All the books i have are hard to read and its hard to tell the little differences between each character. I also read a small book for foriegners that is an intro to Bangladeshi culture. Its cool to read the book then observe the things i read about. Life here is very different. it seems like very little in terms of cultural norms and customs is the same.

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2 Comments so far
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Sounds like a wild first week, friend. We’ll keep praying for you!

Comment by Rod

missssss youuuuuuu, blueeee eyeees.

Comment by Brittany




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