Michael P

Look who i found at the airport
December 28, 2008, 10:22 pm
Filed under: shopping

img_2866My brother, uncle, and dad arrived last night.  I’m pretty excited to be with them.  We ran around the city today and they got a feel for what the last 3 and a 1/2 months of my life have been like.

Bangladesh is known for having lots of clothing.  Today we went to a tailor to get fitted for suits.   They’re really cheap.

img_2874Lots and lots of decisions to make.

img_2878We were served coffee while we figure out what we wanted.

img_2876Tomorrow is the election and we’re not quite sure how much we’ll be able to move around or how much stuff will be open.  But it’s going to be interesting however you look at it.


b’deshi bargaining and paan
November 3, 2008, 12:02 am
Filed under: culture, shopping | Tags: , , , ,

Some students were going to the tongi bazaar to get some shoes today after lunch.  I haven’t gotten many oppurtunities to go out to markets with students so i decided to tag along.  They thought i’d need to take the pedestrian bridge across the freeway, but i showed the (by leading) that i’ve learned how to effectively cross a busy freeway in bangladesh without getting hit.

When we got to the market, it was a good chance for me to ask questions about all the stuff that i’ve been seeing.  One interesting thing that they sell in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh is this stuff called Paan.  It’s preparation of various things that can be eaten/chewed as an after dinner breath freshener, but mostly its something that people get addicted to and continue to chew, even after their teeth fall out.  I unknowingly tried this after dinner one night and was disgusted.  It was super bitter.  I just swallowed the whole thing because i had no idea what else to do with it.  The idea is that you get a betel leaf and fill it with some shredded areca nut and some caustic lime powder.  Sometimes people put a little bit of tobacco also.  It’s pretty gross and you see people spitting the red juice all over the place. Tonight, there are some guests from Australia and they were offered paan as an after dinner breath freshener at the indian restaurant we were at.  I kept telling them they should try and it and after about 5 chews the all spit it out in disgust.  Here’s a picture of a guy that sells it at the tongi market.

When we finally found a place that sandals i asked the students what the bangla word for shoe was.  They hesitated for a while and said “sandal.”  Then Khokon found the shoes he wanted.  the guy wanted 590 taka.  That seemed fair to me.  they looked like nice black faux leather sandals.  but it was too much for him.  As i’ve said earlier, Bangladeshis can be really touchy within their own gender.  To convince khokon to get the sandals the guy was grabbing his arm, massaging his shoulder, and just overall sweet talking him into not leaving and buying them from the next guy.  It was interesting to watch.  they never treat me this way.  I would have said 400 taka and gotten them for 450.  But finally the guy agreed to 150 taka.  yes, from 590 all the way to 150.  Khokon left a happy man.

new market
October 5, 2008, 10:32 pm
Filed under: shopping | Tags: , ,

Today i went to the largest market in Dhaka.  it’s called new market.  Right as i was leaving where i live a family was getting out of a CNG next door.  i hopped in and got the guy to use the rate meter, no ridiculously high prices.  Usually the CNG or taxi driver names a price that’s too high and usually i can’t haggle him down that much.  for some reason this guy didn’t feel like doing that.

So, 25 minutes later, he dropped me off and i didn’t actually know what new market looked like.  i wandered around for a little while and the figured out i’d been wandering around the market for about a half hour.  It was raining on and off, so there weren’t many people there.  About an hour into being there it started to get more crowded.

My main reason for going was to get picture dictionaries for my students.  I ended up not getting any because i didn’t know how many i should get and i figured i’d be coming back soon to buy and bunch.  I’m hoping to get at least 10-15 and i couldn’t get through to the book seller that i needed that many.  most guys just had like 2 books.  But i did manage to find one guy that sold legit western books.  he had a bunch of classics and some new books.  They were kind of expensive (as far as bangladesh goes) so i only bought one.  I had heard that freakonomics was really good, so i picked it up.  It was 850 taka.  that’s about $12.50.  Now that might not seem like a lot, but i’ve gotten so used to how cheap it is here.  i took a 25 minute CNG ride to the market and it was only 2 dollars.  Maybe next time i’ll bring some more money and try to remember that the book would be more expensive in america.

i also found a stall that was selling DVDs.  Most of them were Dhallywood and Bollywood movies, but the guy had some cool compilation DVDs.  He would have one dvd that was all westerns, or all james bond, etc.  I found one that was all the bourne movies and all the lord of the rings movies. it was 80 taka.  I’m quite happy with my purchase.

One interesting thing about bangladesh is that its made up almost completely of small businesses.  Much of bangladesh is like new market.  hundreds of small stalls selling one particular thing.  you have will have 5 stalls all next to eachother that only sell hairclips.  hundreds of hairclips all hanging on ropes.  Then you go to a different area and its all guys selling dress shirts or all lungis.  Its a pretty interesting concept when you get a large market like new market and sometimes you have like 10 different sellers to choose from to buy one thing.  Here’s a picture of a typical dress shirt stall.  these shirts are like 3 usd.

Although new market was pretty cool i’m really mad that my lens finally croaked on the ride back.  I damaged it in malaysia a long time ago and now it’s rarely in focus and i have to manually pull it in and out to make it zoom.  Hopefully i can get a new one.

oh, i saw the national assembly building on my way back.  it’s pretty cool.   snapped this from the CNG as we were moving.  the last shot before my lens broke.