We survived our long train ride to Chittagong from Dhaka. After much prayer, I successfully avoided using the squatty potty on the train. Squatting without a seat to go to the bathroom is bad enough without having the movements of a train, throw off your aim. No thanks.
The train station was a far more intense experience than I could possibly have imagined. We get stared at everywhere we go here because we are white and very few white people come here. This bothers the girls on my team far more than me. I think I have become good at being oblivious to my surroundings. If I concentrated on all the leering looks from men, I would probably go nuts. And when we go into the poorer yet high trafficked areas, our white skin turns into dollar signs. This is very difficult for me as I haven't figured out what I should do. Giving them money reinforces the white = money concept and sometimes giving one person food starts a riot with the twenty other beggars. I am praying about how I should be responding.
With that being said, the train station was the epitome of celebrity status for us. We had to take six mini-taxis to get all the people and stuff to the train station. We left really early to ensure getting to the train on time. We got there with about an hour and a half to spare. The place was swarming with people only interested in one thing- these fascinating people with pale skin- us!
We piled our luggage on the ground and stationed ourselves around it to thwart any would-be thieves. A crowd of at least one hundred people gathered around us very tightly. A few times security guards would push them back but after about two minutes, we were all back in our involuntary Bangladeshi group hug.
Some of the students tried to entertain them with guitar playing and basic English lessons but it was clear that this was not what the people came for. And they seemed more mob-like. The best strategy seemed to be to guard the stuff and pray that the train would come soon. It was crazy and I definitely felt like the situation was out of my control. This is an especially bad feeling when you are the one responsible for eight other people. For the first time I really felt like hitting anyone in sight. Thankfully I refrained. We got on the train and all was fine.
Chittagong seems nicer than Dhaka. There are more trees and the buildings seem a bit nicer. Matt and I were nervous about our inability to firm up some things with our contacts but things are turning out fine. We got hooked up with some rooms at this AOG church and the pastor has been super helpful. Things are falling into place.
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