Monday, March 3, 2014

On Oversharing

I should be working. It's 10:14 am, Monday. I am sitting in the small office attached to Dr. Shenk's office. Class is at 11. I got here early today after dropping Dominic off at work. He was afraid his truck wouldn't manage the icy roads. They weren't that bad, but it is bitterly cold. I wore several layers, but my toes are still cold, even inside my boots. I keep obsessively checking my email, thinking one of the several emails I am always waiting for will perhaps finally come. My obsessive checking of Facebook is bad too. Wretched mind suck site. I have no self control.

I should be working.

I have too many distractions in my head. Too many anxieties; about today, about tomorrow, about the future. I can't shake it. I know I should - I know all about how we should focus on the present moment because that's all we really have for certain: right now, this fleeting moment. The moment I wrote the preceding words, the moment you read them, those moments are already gone. It is more than likely we didn't cherish them as we should have. We might not have another moment.

Alas, I should be working.

The way Swallow Hall is structured, it sounds as if the voices coming from the office in front of me are actually coming from Dr. Shenk's office behind me. You can hear almost everything. Foot steps, conversations, coughs, the ticking of the heater. It's 10:33. What have I been doing?

Good heavens, I should be working.

My mind is on a few conversations I had this weekend. One of them needed to be had. I didn't want to have it. It was a bummer! It was straightforward and without flesh. It was bones. How much should I share here? Probably nothing. The Internet is chock-full of oversharing. Ah, the infamous oversharer; you with your discussion of emotions and sorrow and blessed days and moodiness and food pictures and sicknesses.

But why are we so down on the oversharer? Is sharing not something we all yearn for? We just want to connect with people, and in modern day Western society that is one of the hardest -sometimes impossible- things to do. Having someone to talk to, having someone tell us everything will be okay, having someone to commiserate with. Knowing that there are people out there- however far away- that know what is going on in your life and are thinking about you. Sometimes Internet oversharing is the only way! We don't live in full family units. We live alone or in couples, single or paired off far away from home; reliant on ourselves or one or two other people for, well, everything. Everything is too much. No single person (or two) can provide you with all the support you need. I know our Western/US ideologies tell us that we need to learn to live on our own, but that is not how humans are designed to live. We are designed to have a support system; people around us who we trust and make us feel safe, who we can share our emotions and moods and sicknesses and meals with. Not to mention people who will help us take care of everyday things- foraging, cooking, cleaning!

I should be working.

Instead I am thinking of a family unit in which four, five, maybe more people live together, trust each other, help each other. Relationships are fluid and always in flux. Saturday I flipped through a journal I started in January 2008. I was astounded. Nothing is the same. Nothing in the beginning of that journal is at all the same. As I flipped through I saw entries about people who have died, friendships that fell apart, big moves, including the one to Missouri. Massive changes in relationships that I had hoped would never happen. Oh, but everything changes. The moments are fleeting. So fleeting.

It's 10:49. I am out of time. No oversharing for me today. It's probably for the best. And that's okay, this was enough.

Friends and family - know that I am thinking about you, and I don't mind if you overshare!

And my toes still aren't warm!

Brrrrrrrrrr

Watching people swim and play in a lake. One of my favorite Bangladeshi outfits! 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Week in the Life

I have always enjoyed descriptions of other peoples daily lives. It must be the budding anthropologist in me, but hey, my favorite book since I was 15 has been Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway, and that is a perfect "a day in the life" kind of work. For a while I have been thinking about dedicating a blog post to a day in my life (as unexciting as it may be) but my days are so utterly erratic! Depending on the time of the year and the day of the week my days are completely different. As an example, consider this week, February 16 to the 22.

I typically wake up between 7:30 and 8:30, depending on the day. Everyday starts with a 15-20 minute walk with Ripley, feeding her and Mr. Kitty, making coffee and lunches as needed, and checking my email. From there the days diverge, though typically I put something on TV to listen to while I eat breakfast and get ready for the day. 

Sundays are my reading days. I spend between 5 and 7 hours reading, taking notes and writing comments for my Monday discussion class. Comments are due at 8 pm. If I'm not exceptionally burned out by the end of it I will try to read in preparation for my MA exam, but the time spent there fluctuates quite a bit. Anyway, Sunday revolves entirely around reading. If I have time or really need a break I will typically catch part of a movie Dom is watching (his day off) or watch an episode of a mind-numbing TV show. I caught part of the Chronicles of Riddick this week.

Mondays I have my first class at 11:00, which is a class taught by Dr. Shenk on social organization (kinship, marriage, gender, etc.) that I am sitting in on. Around noon I typically eat a packed lunch with Jeremy, who is in my 11:00 o'clock and my 1:00 o'clock class. We chat until class time, which is a discussion based class with Dr. Shenk on human behavioral ecology (a theoretical perspective which, essentially, explores how environment impacts behavior- with evolutionary underpinnings) that lasts until just before 4:00. On the way home I usually take care of whatever errands need to be done - gas, grocery store, Dollar General- before getting home and walking Ripley. I usually put something on TV or listen to music while I tiddy up around the house- make the bed, clean up any messes, prep for dinner. This Monday I got a call from Kristen asking if Dom and I wanted to come over for dinner, so I made a German chocolate cake and took care of some miscellaneous school tasks until we headed over there (Ripley included), around 7:30. We ate dinner (Jim and Kristen always feed us well!) and played a round of Settlers of Catan (we are only mildly obsessed with that game!). We got home about 10:45ish. Then my nightly ritual begins: getting ready for bed, walking Ripley, and reading before falling asleep.  

Tuesdays, barring inclement weather, are my part-time job days. I scoop dog poop for a family owned business (a great family!) which entails, simply put, driving to people's houses and scooping their poop. This Tuesdays was gorgeous; the snow was melting and the sun was out. Of course, snow melt meant a lot of extra poop (and mud)! I scooped from 9:00 am to 4:15 pm. I headed home, walked Rips, showered, and my cleaning/dinner prep ensued. Dom helped me make fish, mac'n cheese, fried calamari rings, and asparagus. I did some MA exam studying before reading in bed and crashing around 10:30. I was exhausted.

Wednesdays are my long on-campus days this semester. I have Stat class from 10:00-12:50. This week I met Jeremy for lunch at 1:00 at Ingredient (a pretty tasty restaurant downtown) before we headed to a MA exam study group at 2:00. Around 3:30 I printed articles for this week's HBE readings and headed to my 4:00-5:30 preparing future faculty class. This week's lecture was on non-tenure track positions. At 6:00 I had orientation for a volunteer program I will be starting next week helping kids in low income families increase their reading ability and comprehension. Next Thursday I will start my weekly volunteering from 3:45-6:00. The orientation only took 35 minutes, and I was home by 7:00. Dom and I walked Ripley and I made vegetarian burritos for dinner. We watched The Island with Michael Cain - strange movie! It's best if you watch it knowing nothing about it...you will be consistently surprised/astonished/potentially mildly horrified. The woman was my favorite character. Then the nightly routine...

Today, Thursday, I hung out about the house and started working on this thing until my noon lunch date with fellow grad student Gretchen, who is leaving for Bangladesh soon (exciting!). I drove Dominic's truck; he borrowed my car to take Ripley, a friend, and her dog to the park for a walk before the thunder and rain started. Gretchen and I went to my favorite restaurant downtown, a Vietnamese place with a quiet atmosphere perfect for casual conversations. Now, at 2:00, I am sitting in the campus Starbuck's with the intention of finishing this and working on some reading/work before a talk organized by the South Asian Studies Program at 3:30 by Samira Sheikh. The talk focuses on a kingdom in eighteenth century India. I suppose that will last about an hour. Then I will head home to swap vehicles with Dominic (he needs the truck to take the lawnmower a friend at work gave him for his small engines repair class, from 6-8 tonight). I will probably walk Ripley, do some reading, try not to waste any time (we will see how that goes). At 6:30 I will go to a reception for Samira Sheikh. I am looking forward to hopefully seeing some people I have met in the South Asian program in previous semesters; one woman is also from Virginia and I always enjoy talking to her. I suppose I will be home around 8:30. Then I hope to read, study, and get any work done I need to have ready for tomorrow.

Fridays are nice days. I will Skype with Amrita at 9:00 for an hour or so. Then I have the social org class from 11:00-11:50. From 12:00 to 2:00 I will eat a packed lunch and work on some of my projects in preparation for a meeting with Dr. Shenk at 2:00. We will meet for an hour, maybe two. I will be home by 3:30 or 4:30. Walk Rips (she needs lots of walking). Then I will relax a bit. Friday afternoons should always be for relaxing. I plan on watching this week's latest Walking Dead episode (right now this is my favorite show...I LOVE it, even though it stresses me out...). Then I will need to do some cleaning and laundry, so I will probably put some guilty pleasure TV on while I do housework (Prison Wives anyone?). Dom will be home at 6:15-6:30. I will make chicken, fried potatoes, and green beans for dinner. Perhaps we will watch a movie or read. 

Saturday morning at 10:00 will be my first book club meeting ever! Kristen is going too. It is an interfaith book club and we will be picking a book to read for the coming month. I am excited; I have been wanting to join a book club for years. At 1:30 Gretchen is going to come by and pick out some clothes for her trip to Bangladesh (it is nice to have at least one outfit ready for being in-country!). I will probably have to go to the grocery store at some point. Maybe later in the afternoon I will have a Skype date with Dad and Yvonne. I usually get at least an hour or two worth of reading done in the late afternoon on Saturdays. I will probably have some new data to work on for some of my projects this semester, and I should start on my stat homework...Dom gets home at 3:00 and usually takes a nap. Saturday nights we might hang out with friends, usually at our apartment or theirs. Typically we play games: Settlers of Catan, cards, etc.

On Sunday the cycle, with its respective stability and variation, begins again. I forgot to mention my obsessive email checking (always waiting for important IMPORTANT emails). Usually during my cleaning hours, cooking, or times throughout the day walking Ripley I try to catch up on phone calls but I'm not great at that. Next week will be the same yet different: the same classes, different meetings...

Each day is a little different, which makes establishing a productive work routine a bit difficult, but I have always loved the academic schedule. Sure it's always changing, but it is a perpetual feeling of progress towards something, and I never feel like I am stuck in a rut. Despite how difficult and challenging things can be, I am thankful for that! I love that I have so many hours during the day that aren't set in stone. I love the flexibility; though it does sometimes feel like you are always "on the clock". It is difficult to shake the feeling that I should be working on or reading something. And of course I probably always should...

But Fridays are for fun and relaxation. I am looking forward to my Walking Dead time ;) 

I hope everyone else is have a fulfilling and enjoyable week!

 An old building turned museum in a town just outside of Dhaka.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Deep Winter

And so here we are again. I find this blog is going much like many recent conversations. No one really has anything going on, no updates, just days trudging into days. The days pass quickly but without anything happening worth comment. Unless, of course, it has to do with the weather; nearly every conversation is about the weather. It's funny how people today often consider modern society separate from nature, yet we are massively impacted by the weather. Right now conversations are nurturing, but lives aren't about excitement, they are about stasis. This is a characteristic of deep Winter (I believe seasons should be capitalized, because they do, in most places around the world, play a huge role in our daily lives!). People are waiting - and preparing - for Summer.

Today I was given yet another reason to dislike the cold. Before moving to Missouri I never really had much of a problem with the cold; aside from the most basic desire for Summer. But the winters here are surprisingly much harsher than most Virginia winters (though this Winter is horrible, relatively speaking, almost everywhere) and I have seen what real cold can do! I can't even imagine how much worse it is further and further north (I can't even imagine how it is for Sissy in Chicago!).

Pulling my car into an icy spot in the parking deck today, I bumped my front bumper into the concrete barrier. A chunk of my bumper immediately cracked and snapped off. My bumper snapped! The purpose of a bumper is to bump into things, and since 1999 this car has certainly done some bumping. I'm convinced it was due to the FRIGID temperatures we've been having. I can't believe I am at a point in my life in which 25 degrees feels downright nice. The past few days (weeks!) have been unbelievably cold. And I know it gets so much worse in other places! Weather is such a relative experience.

Of course the cold this year has also prevented my dog from going on walks because it hurts her feet. And I've never had such dry skin in my life! Permanently dirty cars. Never warm enough gloves and aching, burning fingers. Oh and the falling. Lots of falling. Falling snow. Falling ice. Falling me.

But the great part about Winter is the crispness right before the beautiful newness of Spring. We wouldn't appreciate how wonderful Spring is without the Winter!

One thing that has really helped me cope with the cold is remembering the hottest I have ever been. This was standing at the elevator waiting to go to class in Dhaka surrounded by dozens of sweaty college students; this, after walking the dirt/gravel road - which was crowded, often muddy and sometimes flooded -  from the apartments. My face and body glistening - all of us glistening - and sweat dripping down my linen encased legs (the first time my legs ever dripped sweat). We often mentioned how ungodly hot it was standing there. It was worse, standing at that elevator, than standing in the sun.

That was the hottest I have ever been. And by golly, I never thought I'd miss it. The next time I am standing at that elevator, I will remind myself of days like this!


This is not the road from the apartments to the university, but it is a road very nearby. It was newly paved (concrete I think) and was, at least for a little while, easily one of the smoothest roads in Dhaka!

Stay warm everyone!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Conversations with Neighbors

Ah I didn't post! I had much of this written up and then I dropped the ball. Oh well, that isn't unusual. I'm picking it up again.

The weather has been pretty wintry this week, and classes were cancelled yesterday and today due to snow. The weekend was far worse though - we got ice!

So my Fall Count for the 2013-2014 Winter season is ever increasing. I was at three - one fall downtown, one walking Ripley, and one in a friend's driveway- until this weekend's ice storm. My count is five now. I got bruises. We should appreciate dry sidewalks and roads more than we do; ahhhh traction!

Recently I have been thinking a lot about a potential move. Now, the logistics of that would be problematic if I end up going to Bangladesh this summer, but right now I'm in still in the decision making stage. My main motivation is that I feel like we could find somewhere a little (though not dramatically) cheaper, especially if rent here goes up again like it did last year. My second biggest motivation is the carpet. There is a spot where Ripley seems convinced it is perfectly okay to go on (it's not okay). I suspect this is due to previous pets going in this spot (it is the only spot in the whole apartment she wants to go on) and since we were told there would be new carpets when we moved (um, no, not even remotely new) this has disappointed me. Also, it would be nicer to be a little closer to campus - I could save some decent money if I could walk or bike to campus.

Okay, well, I suppose none of that is all that interesting (I'm grasping at straws here) but it terms of weighing the pros and cons of moving (cons including logistics, and, of course, the actual move), one big con to moving has been weighing on my lately. I love this neighborhood. I feel safe here and it is such a nice little community. I hardly go a day without talking to someone, and there are some neighbors I see and talk to almost on a daily basis. Granted, I know them by the name of their dog rather than the name of the human, but I still think that's a pretty good track record...

We, as humans, are not meant to live next door to strangers. If you don't believe me, I recommend reading the The Moral Animal by Robert Wright. It is very readable, and is full of fascinating discussions regarding a lot of the reasons humans act the way they do. Why do we go after certain partners and not others? Why is there a double standard for women; a Madonna-Whore dichotomy? Why do we have friends? Why do we feel guilty or jealous? Why do some people have low self esteem and others massive egos? This book tackles these topics - and many more - from an evolutionary perspective. As in, we evolved to be the way we are. And we did not evolve to live next door to strangers or crowd onto subways full of people we've never met. When you think about it, this makes sense, and I think it explains a lot of our anxieties (if you read the book, it will explain it a lot better...I think it is a good read for any and everyone).

Anyway, I value my small daily conversations with my neighbors, and I am reluctant to give that up to move to a different neighborhood. Alas, there are always things we have to give up when we make changes in our lives, some much smaller than others. This one's pretty miniscule in the scheme of things. Just some things I have been thinking about.

I don't have much else to share. Cold, classes, ice, reading, snow, grad school anxieties...that is pretty much it for me now. So I suppose I will get back to it.


Bangladeshi train through the jungle...

Happy Snow Day!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Facebookless Fun

First, I want to wish Yvonne a very happy birthday today! I could not have asked for a better step-mom, and I hope your coming year is a fantastic one. Sending lots of love your way!



So I have been Facebookless for, well, less than a week, but I have to say, it's FANTASTIC. I can't believe how much time I have wasted on there! The amount of "free time" I have without it is amazing. I check my email every morning and boom, done. Sometimes I sit for a minute and think, that's it? I can move on with my life? I can already walk away from the computer? And yes! No scanning newsfeeds and responding to comments. No seeing what everyone's doing every minute of every day and reading endless Buzzfeed shares. I have more time for reading, so my 24 book goal for 2014 is going well, and, of course, I have more time to think about/work on school stuff. And I have time do other things online like find awesome recipes.

And oh, have I found some awesome ones! In fact I found the BEST website with great, tasty, and CHEAP recipes and it tells you how much each serving costs. I love it! However, I went on yesterday morning to share a recipe with a friend and the site was gone! Ahhhh. I hope they just forgot to pay their web domain bill or whatever and will be back because they were awesome and I'm very disappointed that they've vanished.

I made one really simple recipe from the site, black bean quesadillas, for a crowd of 7 Saturday night and it was a roaring success. So I'm going to share here. It was $0.66 per quesadilla. We devoured 14 of them last night, so I fed 7 people for less than $10! You can't beat that! I doubled it last night but this is what it originally called for:

1 can black beans, drained (don't really need to rinse them, just drain in colander)
1 cup frozen corn (does not need to be thawed)
2 cups cheddar cheese
1/4 batch fresh cilantro, chopped (I used a whole batch last night because I love cilantro so I would say add to your taste)
1/2 a red onion, chopped
1 "batch" taco seasoning (I didn't make my own "batch" which was what it was calling for. I bought a big thing of Ortega taco seasoning and used 4 tablespoons, so for this I would use two, but again, I would just do it to your taste preferences)
I believe it also called for minced garlic, I just used a dash of garlic powder, again to taste.

Mix all of this in a large bowl.

Use soft taco sized tortillas. It takes about half a cup of the above mixture on half and then fold the tortilla over. Pop it into a nonstick skillet (or lightly sprayed if you don't have non-stick) and cook until done! They are good plain or with sour cream and salsa. I bet they'd be good with guacamole too.

I think a good variation of this would include mushrooms and maybe green peppers, but it was fantastic as is.

Speaking of online recipes, I have developed a new Internet pet peeve: why do people rate recipes online and comment that something "looks good" or "will try." Don't rate something if you don't know how good it is yet! Your comment is worthless and the star-rating of the recipe misleading! Don't do that people. Don't. Do. That.

Alright, that's all from me this week. Have a good week everyone!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Return to Blogging, Facebook Hiatus and Other Updates

Yeah, I've been gone for a spell. You don't have to tell me; my blinking cursor says enough. But hey I'm back for a bit, so that's something, right? Backtracking would be impossible, so here are some basic updates:

1) Starting Tuesday I am taking a BIG Facebook hiatus. I need to keep myself on track academically and personally over the next few months, and Facebook is a bit of a time/soul suck for me that I need to step back from. Aside from the time suck factor, I think we get too caught up comparing ourselves to everyone else on social media sites, and, well, that's just silly and I know better. But not comparing your life to others is easier said than done, and it will be easier without social media shoving it down my throat. I need to gain some personal perspective. So I am taking a break, at least for the semester. 

2) BUT, I am intending on returning to my once a week posts here, so I hope you will keep stopping by for the occasional visit! There will be a new post every Monday. 

3) One BIG reason for the hiatus is that I am taking my MA exam this semester. It is an oral exam during which you demonstrate your knowledge of the three primary subfields of anthropology (cultural physical, and archaeology…linguistics, the fourth subfield, is not included). Oral exams have always been quite frightening for me, so yes I am a bit nervous about it. I am also continuing work on my dissertation proposal so that I can get my MA finished and actually get started on my PhD. That seems crazy…but I'm getting there.

4) Yes, I am planning on returning to Bangladesh this summer, God willing and the creek don't rise, as Grandad Raymond always says. I am looking forward to it because I know I can make it a good experience. And of course I am missing some of the great friends (like family) I have made there! Hopefully I will see them again soon.

5) Mr. Kitty and Ripley are as awesome as always. Unfortunately, my camera is broken so I won't have any photo updates for you for a while. I know you are disappointed. My apologies.

6) My only resolution for 2014 is to read 24 books. That's it. Keeping it simple with the hopes that I can complete it this year. I am keeping track on Goodreads.com. So far I have finished two books: the first book in the Hunger Games trilogy (yes, it is as addicting as I had heard) and a book called Homer's Odyssey by  Gwen Cooper, about her experiences with her pretty awesome blind cat. 


7) Also, in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which is another American holiday we should think more about, I am sharing this article and I am adding King's Where Do We Go From Here?: Chaos or Community? to my reading list for the year. From what I understand, he wrote this book in isolation while in Jamaica and it was out of print for some time. This book talks a great deal about his philosophy on the solution to poverty, and I suspect that it would remain highly relevant to today. 

To be honest, dear readers, 2013 brought some things to my life that I was not ready for and that I am not having a particularly easy time understanding. I'm still sorting a lot of things out. And I know that 2014 likely won't be much easier, and, indeed, will perhaps be much harder, because I know that some big decisions are coming up in my life and they are only mine to make. Making decisions that are only yours to make are the hardest ones, because you are the only one you can blame if you decide later they were the wrong ones. But they are coming and by golly I'm an adult and so I will make them.

In the mean time I will try to keep up here – weekly, like I was doing before – despite my Facebook hiatus. I hope you check in every once in a while. 

Bangladesh Photo of the Week!


I think of these hills of tea leaves surprisingly often, as I have never seen such a rich and beautiful green. The photos, of course, do not do it justice.

Have a great week everyone!

Friday, July 19, 2013

By The Hands of Men

So over four weeks ago I began the following blog post:

Things have been busy. I'm in DC now for our predeparture orientation, and I just wrote this entire post only to have it erased by the lobby Internet! This might take me the next few days to write then...I am writing this while waiting for Lizzy to come by so we can see each other a bit before bed. And I am going to be ready for bed pretty freakin' soon...

Being at home was warm and comfortable but fleeting...time went by so fast and there are still people  I have not gotten to see (Morgan and Mikal in particular!). I hope to catch up with Quynh while I am in DC. The people I did get to see I do not feel like I saw enough...I think two more weeks would have more adequately satisfied my home fix, but I will take what I can get!

I have had a great time. I loved spending time with family at my grandad's river home, thrift shopping with my grandma, talking to my mom face to face and enjoying one of our favorite shows together (True Blood!), going to the park with Dad, Yvonne and Ripley, visiting the old high school stomping grounds with Anna, meeting my newest nephew Landon (who is a sweetheart!) and so many other much needed visits with friends and family.

I only wish I had taken more photos! Especially with the parents and grandparents, and at our sleepover. It does not look like I can add photos here using the IPad though, so you might not get any photos from me for a while.

And about two weeks ago I began to update/complete that blog post:

Obviously I never finished that post. I got caught up with orientation, with getting some last minute visits in with DC friends, and with dealing with sudden apprehension about going away. This happens to me before nearly everything I sign up for; I find myself thinking, in the moments before, "Is this really a good idea? Really?" I find myself doing what my sister's husband, John, always does when they get in the car to go away: "For the record, this is a bad idea."

But the flight went smoothly, everything, in fact, has gone fairly smoothly, aside from inevitable illnesses and bouts of homesickness. We are all well taken care of and already have a solid routine. In actuality, my routine here is much better than at home when it comes to having a real schedule. I have a pretty consistent sleep schedule, even if I am not getting enough of it, and very consistent meal times and daily happenings.

So we have been here for a little over two weeks. For those two weeks I have been thinking a lot about what to post here. But it is difficult to decide. What do I focus on? Classes? Food? Field trips? The city itself? Our daily life?

It is funny the things you get used to very quickly and the things that are difficult to get used to. I am used to the looks I attract as a bideshi, an obvious foreigner. We are all uncommonly used to sharing poop stories with each other. I am used to the sounds of a foreign language around me, and am almost used to being that person in the store who can only communicate with an assortment of words and gestures rather that sentences. I am used to washing my rear with a hose, which is actually quite nice.

I am not used to passing on the left. I am not used to not having a car and to not being comfortable roaming about alone, for fear I will get lost and not be able to find my way back.

Apparently I am also not used to managing a whole new life schedule, or attempting to keep in touch with friends and family while also struggling to keep up with language school, making new friends, field trips, and staying healthy. The staying healthy part I have been particularly bad at. I have actually been fairly consistently under the weather ever since we arrived, though I fortunately do not think I have gotten anything particularly serious. I of course had horrendous jet-lag, my first jet-lag ever. I had the stomach rumbles for about a week after I got over jet-lag, and then the day my stomach felt better I woke with a sore throat. It has been about a week and a half since then and I am fairly certain I have developed a sinus infection. I am going to the doctor tomorrow morning with our very wonderful and extremely helpful resident director. The people here are all tremendously friendly and helpful. If it weren't for them I think I'd be feeling a little crazy (crazier)! I have met people from America and from Bangladesh I will never forget and will always appreciate.

But in spite of the sicknesses, which are relatively mild compared to some, I am still absorbing and learning so much, more, I think, than I even realize. If someone asked me what I like best about Bangladesh I would say the people and the colors. I absolutely love hanging out with my language partner, Amrita, who is an absolute sweetheart and is very kind to me, as is her wonderful and welcoming family. I love the colors and the clothing, which are bright and beautiful and comfortable. I love the lushness of the vegetation and the country itself. Dhaka is a city that thrives all on its own; it has a city personality more independent than any other. Its streets are full of people, dogs, goats, cows, and the occasional cat or even elephant (haven't been lucky enough to spot one though). Intermingling and living together, all usually calm, in their own worlds, everyone going about their business, through often impassible traffic and drenching rains, or, conversely, empty hartal days and beating, brutal sun. It is always humid and if you are outside you are always sweating. I love the tiktikis, the tiny lizards, in our apartment, and feel safe under my mosquito net.

If someone were to ask me what I don't like about Bangladesh, or Dhaka rather, it would not be anything against the city, but merely feelings of missing home. Being away from Dominic, not talking to my Mom regularly, not immediately knowing when something happens at home etc. I also must admit that I miss free time and comfortable sleep. The former is lacking just because we are so, so busy (this is our first free weekend). The latter I have been lacking in either due to stomach rumbles or a stuffy nose. I do miss food from home, particularly as I'm sick and would really appreciate some comfort food. I might even give a kidney for a BLT right now. And I miss coffee. But the food I have had at Amrita's home is the best I have had since being here, and it is always fantastic and comforting and makes me feel better. Her mother is an amazing cook.

Everything everywhere is torn down and built up by the hands of men. Often by their bare hands things rise and fall; big buildings and dirt roads, tiny cups of tea and massive Iftar meals. I have watched two old men break bricks into gravel with hammers, taking days to do so, and men tearing down brick buildings with their hands. This massive city, and every massive city, is built by the hands of men; men we often forget to consider. How often do the men who built our houses and offices, our hospitals and schools ever even cross our mind? Our lives are in their hands; they are more important to use than we realize.

I am glad I have finally posted some update that everyone can see. I apologize for being out of touch with most of you but please know that you are all on my mind and in my heart and I am always thinking of things to share with you. If anyone has any particular requests they would like me to write about, please let me know! It is overwhelming for me, trying to decide what to share. There is so, so, so much! The city is vibrant and alive, my schedule is busy, and I have never learned so much in such a short amount of time. I hope only that I can remember half of it.

I have managed to upload a small fraction of the over 400 photos I have taken. I am taking requests for particular photos as well!

Traffic

A former "palace", now museum

Chilling in the street

Street art

Outside of Dhaka, old architectural beauty

Some beautiful traditional clay-made jewelry from wonderful Amrita!


Chicken biryani and eggplant, courtesy of Orin, Golap, and George


And a beautiful sunset from our apartment building's roof

Until next time, good morning to those in the States, and a happy upcoming Iftar to those in Bangladesh!