Michael P

happy halloween!!!!!!
October 31, 2008, 10:50 pm
Filed under: culture | Tags: , , , , , ,

halloween isn’t really celebrated in Bangladesh, so this post has very little to do with Halloween.

It was international night at church.  Because the church is made up of people from 6 of the 7 continents, every year there is a competition with which country or region can display the most talent.  Africa won.  American did square dancing.  I hadn’t dosidoed (sp?) since middle school.  And i got kind of sick from all the spinning around.  It reminded of how my brother called me “the dancer” for about a year after my parents saw me doing a ballroom dancing unit in middleschool and told the whole family about my amazing dacing skills.  I am not a good dancer, so i have no idea where they got that from.

Anyways, there was also a geography/international trivia contest.  My partner and i got 4th place and won a shawl.  Here’s me wearing it.

Here’s Australia doing a song about Vegemite.  It was really odd.

I also got a haircut today.  Getting a haircut or shave in Bangladesh so far has been nothing but frustrating. The first time i got ripped off, the second time my hair got ripped out during the post shave head massage, and this time i sat in a chair for an hour while a guy cut my hair from slightly long to a buzz with scissors.  It took forever and i couldn’t get him to use the electric clippers that were right next to me.  Oh well, it was only 80 taka.  also, Fridays are kind of like Saturdays here, so lots of people had the day off and i had to wait 45 minutes.  But i did get to watch the India-Australia cricket test match and some MTV India.  They had a music video called “singh is king kinng” that has Snoop Dogg dressed up as a bollywood guy.


market pictures
October 30, 2008, 9:01 pm
Filed under: culture | Tags: , , ,

Lately i’ve been feeling tongue tied while trying to write, so i’ll keep the writing to a minimum and just give you a bunch of picture.

My lens on my digital camera became non-operational in the beginning of October.  I’ve been awaiting a new one that i ordered online, then had my parents send to me.  The package arrived a couple of days ago, and i’ve been going to markets to get back into taking lots of pictures.  The first market i went to I call the bamboo market.  its on the side of the road and is made up of bamboo poles and tarps.

On the way there a guy selling jems was trying to get my attention.  He really wanted me to take his picture.

Then today i went to a market that is about a 15 minute walk north of me.  It’s right on the Tongi river.  this market felt much older and much more interesting.  It just had a different vibe from the bamboo market.  you walked down some steps off the main road and down into the market and it winds its way through along the banks of the Tongi.

this guy was selling jewelry on the bridge over the Tongi.  I really like his expression.  His loud speaker was playing a tape player.  The only thing I could understand from the recording was “city gold! city gold! city gold! city gold!” then it would name a bunch of cities in Bangladesh.

weird dhaka adventure
October 28, 2008, 4:53 pm
Filed under: touristy stuff | Tags: , , , ,

today the weather was really nice so i decided to get out and do stuff.  it’s like 75 and sunny and you can tell that everyone is in a better mood now that its not sprinkling.  I decided to make my way to gulistan and try to get to Bangsal street.  Bangsal street is also called bicycle street.  it’s where all the rickshaws come from and where you can get rickshaw art.  the rickshaws here are really colorfully decorated so i wanted to try to buy some stuff to take back to the states with me.
I started the day with catching a bus south.  it ended up taking over an hour to get to gulistan even though it’s only like 15 km away. the bus was 22 taka instead of 250-300 taka for a CNG.  it was really uncomfortable though, so i’m not looking forward to taking another one.

I kept asking gulistan khotai (where is gulistan) to people on the bus and finally someone told me to get off.  i didn’t know where i was and i ended up wandering around for a long long time.  But i enjoyed being lost because it made it more of an adventure.  I eventually found myself in a part of old dhaka that sold tons and tons of powertools, gaskets, o rings, generators, drive belts, and anything else you can imagine.  the maker side of my started thinking about how much i missed making things and i saw lots of good materials for making a nice rotating coffee roaster.  But getting all the stuff back to america would be a pain, so i decided to not get anything.

I eventually got hungry and found a little place.  i sat down then a guy sitting near me called me over and asked me if i spoke english.  He invited me to eat lunch with him and his business partner.  Another example of bengali hospitality.  His name was shadif and he was in the steel tubing business.  We had curried potatoes, curried beef heart, and roti.  It was pretty good.  His friend picked up the tab, even though i tried to pay.

Then i went with shadif back to his store.  We discussed all the countries he traveled to and i talked about what i was doing here.  he spoke like 6 languages; urdu, pashtu, bangla, english, arabic, and hindi.  I feel so lazy a lot because i only speak on language.  after cha with shadif i decided to journey on.

I eventually found bangsal road and was happy to see lots of bikes, bike parts, and rickshaw art.  you can get custom rickshaw art here, so i might look into that later.

Then as i made my way back to the main area of gulistan to catch a bus or CNG i saw a large group of people surrounding some westerners.  i was curious to see what was going on and then i started talking to them.  it was a group of emirates flight attendants that were in dhaka for one day on a layover.  I followed them around for a little bit.  for there 24 hours here, they decided to buy clothes.  They were getting in a huge argument because some bangladeshis were “helping” them carry the clothes they were buying and were trying to charge them 3000 taka for their services.  That’s an outrageous number.  Eventually their driver came.  I asked where they were going.  they were headed to the radisson.  its kind of near where i needed to go, so i asked if i could tag along and got a free ride that saved me around 200 taka.

Then i went out to the freeway and got a CNG to coffee world and now i’m here, drinking an ice mocha.  Its nice to have unexpected days like this.

Thinking back about today, I realized how different my day was from the flight attendants.  They all looked at my like i was crazy when i said i’d been here for 2 months and that i’d be here for another 2.  They had a terrible experience where bangladehis were ruthlessly cheating naive foreigners out of thier money.  I’ve had my fair share of these experiences, but it’s days like today that i will remember about being here.  Wondering through the streets of old dhaka and random people that have far less money than i do paying for my food and really showing me what bangladeshi culture is like.  Its about hospitality and sharing, not trying to make a few hundred taka from confused tourists.  it’s too bad that from now on these 24 hour tourist probably won’t have nice things to say about dhaka.

rainy day means sleepy day
October 27, 2008, 7:30 pm
Filed under: culture, teaching | Tags: , , , ,

Because the weather is changing and learning how to do small talk is a valuable american speaking tool, i decided to teach my students some weather vocab and sayings.  because i don’t speak bangla, i try to talk about what the words i’m teaching would be in bangla.  for instance i started talking about sprinkling.  i made a sprinkling motion of sorts with my hands and the students started saying guri guri bishdy.  That is how you say sprinkling in bangla and it’s now my favorite bangla phrase.

Then at lunch Roshid said “rainy day means sleep day.”  because of my new blanket and the guri guri bishdy outside i decided to live by that saying for today.  Then at like 7 pm one of the teachers was being really really loud outside my room.  I woke up and got frustrated.  when i’m bored i get homesick and/or frustrated with the culture.  If i had decided to go out today and walk around i probably would have gotten mad at rickshaws and trash and gotten even more frustrated with life here.

Hopefully it isn’t guri guri bishdy tomorrow so i can go out and do stuff.

October 26, 2008, 8:24 pm
Filed under: food | Tags: , , , , ,

the temperature continues to drop.  all the students here are freezing.  i’m not THAT cold and i keep reminding myself its only 68 degrees.  i’ve been in -12, so i can handle this.  it’s also been rainy for two days straight, so i’ve kind of been locked up inside.  i got bored and decided to walk to get some cha and shingaras.

Then i was still bored, so i ate a coconut that one of my staff/students gave me yesterday.

I haven’t slept with a blanket since arriving in b’desh, so the guy in charge of the center (roshid) got a blanket for me.  When they asked me if i liked it i said it was pretty.  Roshid brought it out for all the women to see.  they liked the rose.

a couple of days ago i saw a guy riding in a CNG with a goat.  i thought it was slightly comical.

cold weather and salsa!
October 25, 2008, 9:22 am
Filed under: food | Tags: , ,

the temperature had dropped to about 75 here and i’m pretty cold.  It’s funny how your body can adjust to what it thinks is “normal.”  Three days ago 91 and humid felt normal.

getting salsa materials

Last night i had a mexican food night with some people from church.  I really miss mexican food.  I set out to make salsa fresca.  I think it turned out pretty well.  I’ll probably be making it a few more times here.

pcb land take 2 and bfc
October 23, 2008, 11:33 pm
Filed under: food | Tags: , , ,

I headed off to the PCB land a couple of days ago.  We got some nice fresh fruit and some of the best green mango (dab in bangla) that i’ve had so far on this trip.  Usually its kind of sour, but this was just right.

then we came back to dhaka and had lunch at BFC.  I think it should really stand for Bangladeshi fried chicken, but it’s actually best fried chicken.  It’s pretty good.  Its like KFC, but not over battered and pretty spicy.