Elastic Basket for my Peaches

I also have a website: www.lizhightower.com

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Sports glory

We are back in Dhaka after our week in Cox's Bazar. It was a good week for us all though we may have watched too many movies. I am a bit of a tv junkie but my students' addiction to movies on cable was astounding! I caught Katrina watching some cheesy movie called "Shark Attack" as well as "Scooby Doo2." The worst was when the boys were watching "To Kelly From Justin With Love." Fortunately, the power went out due to what I believe was divine intervention and the boys did not get to finish their cheesy American Idol film.

We started playing soccer or football as they say, with the local people in the afternoons. It was a great chance to get to know them and it was fun to see them around town and say hi. I am not particularly skilled at soccer but I like sports and I am very competitive. We played barefoot on the beach. It kills the feet but it is a lot of fun. Our team of whities played pretty well. One of the guys on the brown team had a shirt that said "Horny Devil" so that is obviously what I called him. I wonder if he knew what it meant. The best part of the experience was when I scored a goal. It felt amazing! It was so freeing! It was very much like how I felt when I was working with kids in an after-school program. I played kickball with the fourth graders and scored a homerun. It felt amazing as well!

Bangladesh feels more normal than it used to. I am definitely more comfortable here than I have been up to this point. I still miss home and people back home but I have a new sense of contentment with my circumstances. It feels good.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Best day ever for rickshaw pullers

Yesterday was a great day. I felt lighter than I have for the past month. I was able to fully concentrate on what I was doing and not on all the stuff back home or my difficulties with students.

We did a prayer walk by rickshaw. We wanted everyone to go their own ways and tour Cox's Bazar but the rickshaw pullers seemed to think we needed to stay together. Katrina and I had a young spry puller but we were stuck going one mile an hour behind Matt and Francis's old geezer. When our little guy tried to pass, he got yelled at.

The drivers took us to a Budhist temple. There are several here for refugees from Myanmar. We thought we were just getting a tour but then they tried to make us give them donations every five minutes. In one room, there were all these idols and photos of monks. The room was creepy and not well-lit. Then this super-onery looking monk came out of the shadows looking like he hated us. Spooky!

Then on our way back to the hotel, Katrina convinced our guy to break away from the pack. I was nervous since he got yelled at the last time. He took us down a nice tree-lined street and then met back up with the others. Matt and Francis's driver got really pissed at ours and came after him and pretended to punch him. It was intense. Then someone got the idea for us to pull the rickshaws. Katrina pulled mine while I road with the little driver man. Kera, Jorgen, and Drea raced back to the hotel. Jorgen won but Katrina made a valiant effort. We hope to get ten rickshaws one day so we can all race. This is a good place to do it because there is more open space and less people.

In the afternoon, we went out to the beach and played soccer with the locals. It was so much fun. We always want to do stuff with the kids on the streets but there isn't enough room in the big cities. This was ideal. Afterwards, Matt, Eric, Francis and I went into the ocean. Some people were afraid to go in but the water looks just like the water in Galveston to me so I was unafraid. The waves were fairly big but not scary like in Maui. I had to wear my complete outfit including my orna, which is like a scarf. Pretty hilarious! I had never swam in so many clothes before.

It was great to be in the ocean because that is always a place I feel close to the Big Guy. There is just something about the seemingly nerver-ending expanse of water that makes me think of eternity. It is always cathartic for me. I need to take advantage of this close proximity to the ocean as much as I can.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Luxurious Living

We are now in Cox's Bazar. This place is the pride of Bangladesh as it boasts the world's longest sea beach. It is far from beautiful by Hawaii standards but the chocolate milk colored water reminds me a lot of the Gulf of Mexico. Some people think it looks gross but for me it is like home.

Right now Matt and I are in the business center of a fancy hotel. We came here to see what it is like and check out the ammenities. It is far nicer than the hotel we are staying at. We got a full tour by the management here and I can't wait to come back and use the gym and pool!

Our trip here was originally planned as a morale booster/chill time for the team but now it will be also used to scout out possibilities for a new base here. Tonight we are starting 24 hours of prayer as we want this time to also be a time to reignite a passion for prayer as a team.

The drive here was interesting. We rode in this fancy bus called a ShoHawg. It was very nice with lots of leg room and a massage function in the chairs. I was not very impressed by the massaging as it was more like vibrating. I think I have just been spoiled by the massage chairs at Sharper Image. They had a movie on the bus but I don't speak Bengali so I didn't get too much out of it. We also got some snacks.

Our hotel here is funny. We got a really good deal. It is like $2 American per night. They gave us roses when we arrived and gave us fruit at night. The rooms have cable and the students have been glued to the movie channel. The rooms have hot water and air conditioning so there is really not much more we could ask for. This is the first time we have had either of these things.

The students were very sad to leave Chittagong but I was ready to move on. I like seeing as much of the country as possible. It was sad to leave the fun people we'd met there but I have had to say good-bye to so many cool people in the last two years that I have become somewhat calloused to it.

One random thing- Our last night in Chittagong, we were at our favorite hang-out, a fast food restaurant called Sugar Bun. As we were leaving, we saw two transvestites at one of the large windows at the front of the restaurant. One looked mad and the other looked very high on something and was wildly dancing. It was surreal to say the least since they were dressed as we were in our salwar kameez. These are the long dress like shirts, baggy pants and scarves. I have seen many trannies in my life, especially living in Montrose, but these were the strangest. I can't properly explain it but so weird!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Sucks to Hartals

Before I write this I want to say that I have edited some of my previous posts for safety purposes. We are not in any big danger but I don't want to compromise the work being done here. I will try to be more vague about certain things even though that is not at all my style.

Today we were going to go talk to the Big Guy on a local lake but the government called a hartal. This is a politically motivated city-wide strike. On these days it is not safe to travel in a motorized vehicle. People will throw rocks at your windows and slash your tires. It lasts from 6am-5pm and most of the city is closed. With elections looming in the near future, we will not be taking any chances and are forcing our students to comply with the restrictions. It definitely sounds much scarier than it is. Please don't worry.

I want to list a few of the things I have seen as I have walked down the street here: a fully naked man (thankfully only from behind), cows walking in the streets, men carrying stacks of bricks on their heads, rickshaw drivers in their long skirts, people in wheelchairs rolling down the middle of the street and so much more.

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.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Chillin' in Chittagong

We have been in Chittagong about a week and a half. Things were slow at first but they are starting to pick up more. We have been helping at an English-learning center that lets us get to know local people. The usual teacher was out of town so I taught the classes. It wasn't hard at all because they give you pretty detailed lesson plans.

The last day was hard because we woke up early and passed out flyers for the classes at Chittagong University. It was pretty hot and getting there involved an hour long hot as hell train ride. I was squished between Katrina and a random Bangladeshi girl on a seat clearly built for two. I was not looking forward to teaching but it actually turned out very well.

The students at the english center are all male and it is pretty funny to watch them "partner" with our girls in conversation. They are completely harmless but come up with some pretty funny pick-up lines. One guy told Kera that he liked how her smile made her outfit look better. Another said he didn't need to meet any celebrities because he had met Kera. One told Drea she looked like an American movie star. ANd we have had several offers to be "shown around" Bangladesh. And autograph requests.

Today we felt the team needed some bonding time. We went to an amusement park and the zoo. It was pretty funny/interesting. For less than one US dollar we entered the park and for less than one US dollar we got passes to ride all the rides. There were bumper cars, a ferris wheel, mini-rollercoaster and dry slides that were not very dry at all. They were just water slides with less water than usual. The park workers did not want to let Matt go down it because he is a big guy. He is definitely the only guy I have seen here over 300 pounds and the Bangladeshis don't know what to do with him. He and Eric argued with the workers for twenty minutes to be allowed to go on a thirty second slide. Then they got kind of stuck and traveled about 1 mile an hour while making a loud farting noise. It was hilarious!

The zoo was a treat as well. As white people, we were also a sightseeing attraction ourselves. My favorite exhibit was the terrior dog. Admist the tigers, lions, monkeys, emus, alligators and pythons was a small white dog that looked like your average house pet. How exciting! The zoo was quite ghetto and the animals looked sad and malnourished. It was quite the experience.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Speaking with the locals

I bought a book on how to speak Bengali and it has some very amusing phrases that I cannot forsee myself ever using. Some of them are:

-There are many proofs that the earth is round.
-Small boys like to eat raw mangoes
-The barber began to shave the donkey.
-Where did I put my spectacles?
-They say that stale bread is tasty.
-They beat him with sticks.
-Mix manure and earth and put it on the garden.
-Unless he gets a knife, he can't work.

I don't see how the author of the book thought these phrases would be useful. I want to learn a really random one to tell the beggars and confuse them a bit. Maybe I will say, "The barber began to shave the donkey." That one sounds nice.

We will be here during Ramadan and the political elections. It should be exciting times. I don't really know what to expect. The strikes we have seen so far have not been violent and I hope that continues to be the case.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Chittagongin' It

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.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Teaching English in the slums

I never seem to have enough internet time to get everything done. Here's what I have time to write:

We are spending a few more days in Dhaka before leaving for Chittagong on Sunday. We got to work with a ministry in the slum area here. The slums we went to in Thailand were like the AMerican suburbs compared to this place. Some people worked in the clinic there, others the day care and I taught six English classes.

I was always jealous of people who could lead worship and felt my own gifts were not as beneficial. Teaching comes so easy to me and I forget that it doesn't for many people. I need to not take that gift so lightly.

The power goes out here everyday. The worst time is a few hours before I go to sleep because it is too dark and hot to do anything but just be bored. It is usually out for around an hour. THe people across the street have a generator, which causes me to covet.

Yesterday I used my first squatty potty. in Thailand, many places gave you a choice of toilets. I don't know who would want to squat when they can sit. I had managed to hold it until I got to a western toilet all times before that. It was not as bad as I thought. I think this was a nice one. It was good to get my first one out of the way since there are surely more to come.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...