Elastic Basket for my Peaches

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Guests of Honor at a Puberty Party

Right now I am sweating profusely at an internet cafe because the power is out and apparently the generators only supply power to the computers and not the air conditioner. Oh well, power outages and sweating have become a normal part of my life these days. Whenever I feel annoyed by how much I sweat, I just look at my student, Jorgen. The poor guy becomes a human faucet pretty much everytime he steps foot outside or inside for that matter.

Last night, the girls on my team had quite the adventure. Part of our job here is to meet students at the colleges and universities and invite them to an English program where they can converse and practice with native English speakers. Whenever we go to these colleges, we are mobbed by curious, usually well-meaning students. At one college, Kera and I were given a tour by a girl named Sumona. Her English wasn't that good but she tried her best to show us around. Truthfully we only spent about 15 minutes with her.

She started calling us and texting us to come to her house for a "family program." I decided it would be good for all the girls to go. It was pretty interesting. Just getting there was nerve-racking since it was in a part of the city we had never been. I prayed a lot and we all made it there with no problem. Sumona's oldest brother spoke the best English so he met us at the street and took us to their house. The power was out so they used cell phones to light the way.

The oldest brother was able to speak English pretty well but some things weren't that clear. From what we could gather, this was some sort of Muslim puberty party for the youngest son. Instead, we were the ones treated like guests of honor. They fed us some traditional fruits-some that were terribly bitter and yogurt, which I have come to love here. It does well at taking away some of the less desirable tastes.

The family took pics of us, asked us questions, brought all their extended family and neighbors to see us, played music for us, fanned us by hand and did henna tattoos on some of our hands. It was intense. They were so nice and hospitable. They served us an incredible amount of food for dinner and we ate until we almost exploded. As we were eating, the table was surrounded by the family and their friends who were just watching us eat. I try to control my negative facial expressions as I ate a fish that looked just like it did when it was in the ocean-head and all. I hate fish and it was only by the grace of God that I got it down with a smile. The fish had tiny bones, which I swallowed as well. It was intense.

Afterwards, they presented us with a book written in Bengali that was by the composer of the India and Bangladesh National anthems. They were very proud. It was a great night though funny and awkward.

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