Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Preparing for Eid is like preparing for a hurricane

I feel like I'm with my east coast friends and family in spirit right now. Even though the worst is hopefully behind you now, I feel like I am going through the same preparation steps you may have taken days/weeks ago. It is Ramadan here, meaning people have been fasting all month and tomorrow will be the big day, Eid, for their holiday (their Christmas, if you will). Eid does not even compare to shopping before Christmas or preparing for a hurricane or anything - it is on a whole new level of craziness all by itself, especially here in Bangladesh. It's a month full of shopping for gifts and a special outfit for each family member to wear on the Eid day. I've gone out shopping several times the past few days to stock up on supplies before Eid, because after Eid most shops will close for up to 10 days. Even the grocery stores close for 3-4 days. It has been overly crowded everywhere but today was amazing to see! I wish I could begin to estimate how many people were in Agora (the local grocery store) -- hundreds!! Every aisle was packed, there were at least 10 customers waiting in each checkout line (about 6 checkout lines in total). It was insane! When I first walked in, I thought to myself, you do not really need any of the items on your list, but I continued on anyway because there was a great sensation of feeling like I was a part of their holiday in this one way. While I am very excited to be here during Eid, I will be happy when things go back to "normal" (whatever normal is in a country populated by 160 million people).*side note -- I was going to get a facial or massage but the "spa" was packed! They estimated the wait to be at least an hour but I think that was an under estimation. The ladies like to be made more beautiful for Eid, including having mendhi done.*

A few items on my must-have list for the holiday weekend include:
  • going to the DVD store - bought Grey's Anatomy Season 7 (the second half since I purchased the first half last spring), Nicholas Sparks multi-movie disc, and Pirates of the Caribbean collection (I have only seen the first one - now might be a good time to get caught up) -- each disc cost $1 (amazing!)
  • ribbon - I brought mini clothespins with me and needed more ribbon so I can then hang pictures off of the ribbon -- so I can spend some time over the holiday nesting/decorating the apartment
  • 2.5kg potatoes, onions, pasta, limes (lime juice goes in a lot of dishes I seem to make here!), oatmeal (and other ingredient for no-bake cookies), and my favorite food obsession - chickpeas! 

The pictures below do not even begin to give you a sense of the crowdedness of the grocery story today. At least people were very polite about it, no pushing and shoving you like you might have seen in the US (hello, black Friday....). Occasionally someone would bump into my handcart or I would bump into them and there was always a quick, friendly apology with a look of understanding - that this is crazy!

A shopper's nightmare....

Waiting in line to check out....

  Waiting in line while others try to maneuver around the lines to get down the next aisle

A sample Iftar meal...I love Iftar food but my tummy doesn't always love it because it's all fried, as you can surely tell in this picture. When I first arrived we went to my favorite restaurant, Tava, to order some food to bring home. While waiting for our meals to arrive in take-away boxes we were served this lovely plate of Iftar food so that we could break the fast with the other patrons in the restaurant. Michelle and I also went to our neighbor's (from last year) home for Iftar the other night. Families often create a pre-made plate of food just like this, even when breaking the fast at home. PS -- can we talk about the bird in the middle of the plate?! I am what I like to call a polite vegetarian when in Bangladesh. I do not really like to eat meat here (I am not vegetarian by any means it's just a personal choice to not eat it here). I especially do not like to eat beef here but I will eat it if it is served to me and there are not any other options, to be polite. Last year I did not eat the beef after seeing cows slaughtered during the second Eid (that was the end of my beef politeness....). I could not, however, bring myself to eat the bird on my plate....

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Joys of the Rickshaw

You know you love riding in a rickshaw too much when....

you get mad about losing momentum!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Summer of 'Before and After'

At the beginning of the summer I had all these lofty goals and ideas....now that summer is over I accomplished more than I would have without any of those goals but certainly did not check everything off my list. Number one on my list was to clean my room! It's been a storage room for the past 8 years and I decided that if I was going to have call that home for 2.5 months I needed to be able to see the floor. I also wanted to change some things up since I haven't lived in my room since high school. Here's how my summer room-cleaning project shaped up..... (some of the colors are a little off because I didn't think I needed my flash on....apparently I did! oops!)

Chalkboard Before....

Chalkboard After!

 My Bed Before....

Bed After! (featuring a painted picture from Aunt (center above bed) and Grandma (right of bed))

Bulletin Board Before....

Bulletin Board After! painted the frame, covered the back with paper from Paper Source, and attached ribbon in a zig zag pattern :)

That side of the room after all the changes :) - notie the stylish bulletin board! I found cute clothespins at Michaels that go well with the color scheme!

My beautiful hand stitched pictures from Aarong (fair trade store in Bangladesh) with my favorite doll from my childhood on top of my wardrobe

disaster zone on the chest at the end of my bed...before....

After! with the beautiful Nakshi Kantha table cloth (from Sylhet)

My desk before the massive cleanup! Needless to say, I never actually used my desk, even in high school.....

My desk space after!

Bookshelf before....

Bookshelf after!! A lot of the books that were on here went up to the yard sale, leaving room for all the books in baskets on my floor and in my closets!

So that was my massive clean-up project for the summer! By the end of the summer it felt soooo good to have a nice, clean, organized room! I am a neat freak, Type A after all :) Hope you enjoyed seeing my productivity!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Thailand Sneak Peak!

I feel like summer is flying by and it does not have my permission to do so! My mom's family got together for a family reunion at Myrtle Beach, which was awesome. It took us three family photos to get everyone in a picture...and still there is not one picture that captures all of us at one time! haha It was a great time hanging out, eating, tanning, and finding lots of weird critters in the ocean!

I finally got my laptop back today...even though it isn't fixed yet....thank you Bangladesh for doing quite a number on my laptop! and I was feeling inspired to look through the hundreds of photos I took in Thailand and Malaysia in May! I thought I'd start by posting a few of my favorites that stuck out as I sorted through photos today.

Young girl in one of the long-neck villages

 at a temple in Bangkok

 Koh Tao!

 Chiang Mai temple (don't ask which one....we went to a million!)

I don't know why but I really loved these hot water kettles at our breakfast on our overnight hike to a hilltop tribal village outside of Chiang Mai

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

So This Is Summer...

Well, I had the ideas for a great blog in my head earlier today but now I'm just flat out exhausted...blame jetlag or the fact that I worked out for the first time in a loooong time or the fact that I was totally defeated while shopping in town today...

Here's how my day shaped up
7am -- Day 1 of the couch to 5k run program! Loving the app! It tells you when to do what...week 1 = 20 minute run/walk intervals with a 5 min warm up/cool down. I don't know if my early wake ups can be attributed to jetlag or not but at least the run was a lot cooler at 7am! Let's just say that now that it's the end of the day my legs are pretty tired! Hopefully I can keep up the motivation and commitment to finish the 9-week training program!

Spent the morning shopping in town for craft supplies for a few projects for my room....I haven't lived at home since high school and I thought I'd spruce up my room a little - including massive, massive cleaning/organizing! *Note: my room has been a dumping zone for the past 8 years...after college, after Germany, and now mid Bangladesh!* Perhaps I'll post a few before/after photos when my craft projects start to look a little more promising (today was a fail on craft shopping....so looks like I need a bigger crafts store!) and when I'm feeling like I will have enough energy to muster through the piles and tupperware boxes in my room. Oh! Let me tell you about the wonders of the GPS....in brief, why can't it just say "turn right now [you idiot]" haha - seriously - it always seems to be one step behind me and I'm staring at street signs and wondering "Is it this road or the next?" maybe I'm the only one with this problem but I doubt it...."recalculating" ahhhhh

"Installed" mom's new baby....and her and dad's evening entertainment.....pool cleaning robot. He was a little crazy if you ask me - I had to keep pushing it under water because it would spin its wheels and come up to the surface and climb the walls of the pool....of course it worked perfectly when mom came home and wanted to see it do it's thing. Go figure. Well, hopefully it keeps working (it did a great job cleaning the parts it did roll over) so I don't have to have my old job of pool cleaner back! Spent the afternoon supervising the robot, tanning, and reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

The evening was spent making homemade banana ice cream and mapping out my day for tomorrow....eye appointment in Richmond so I'm going to try to do some shopping before the apt!

Hope everyone is enjoying their summer and had a wonderful Monday :)

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Well, after a month of traveling around Malaysia and Thailand and making the long journey (30 hours) home I am finally here!! I was greeted with a beautiful bouquet of flowers and hugs and kisses. Since home I've been doing the usual hunt for new things...so far I've discovered the new fridge (kinda obvious....the old one was well, old, and white...the new one - spiffy and black! It even beeps at me when I stand staring into the fridge for too long...oops!), new dishwasher, I'm thinking there's a new grill (not sure if it's new or if I've just been away for too long to really remember what was here before), new dishes, new silverware, mom's newest and first quilt, and I'm sure a few other things I still haven't discovered.

Much to my surprise the new fridge was actually filled with food! Usually the fridge is bare-boned empty when I get home. Thank goodness it was full because I'm not sure if I'm ready to conquer the roads where people don't honk, drive on the right side of the road from the left side of their car, and don't swerve in and out of traffic. hehe what will I ever do without all the chaos?! Anyway, thank goodness there was cheddar cheese in the fridge! I have been devouring the cheese ever since I woke up this morning (bright and early at 7am!) I'm guessing I'll crash early this afternoon considering I went for 40+ hours on minimal sleep/airplane napping! The fridge also happened to have a container with one of my fave mom dishes -- 3 bean casserole :) yumm

Lucky for mom I was too tired when we got home last night at 11:30pm to empty my suitcase and show her all of my latest purchases including several gifts for her. Yes, usually this is my ritual that as soon as I walk in the door I start emptying the contents of my suitcase! Last night I was so tired I didn't even want to shower but forced myself based on the sheer fact that I was disgusting after traveling from Bangladesh to Abu Dhabi to JFK to IAD to home....in 30 hours...

Well, I'm going to get back to enjoying the TV (there's so much going on!! funny how facinating the TV can be after not watching tv for a year!) and my pictures from Thailand and Malaysia, which I will post soon enough :)

Send me a message, email me, call me, etc. if you want to get together this summer while I'm home :) xoxo

Monday, April 18, 2011

Leadership Adventure Day

Below is a lovely poem written by one of my students for all of red group to read at the start of their Leadership Adventure Day! Such a proud moment!

Gratitude to AUW from all your dearly daughters
Still the words are less, even many more we utter.
Smiling forever and caring are our teachers,
Helpful and understanding with unique features.
We are the women with a dream to gain,
Inspiration from AUW makes us work in a chain.
Proud to know AUW, the way of dreams and hopes,
In a very challenging time,we have learned to cope.
~Kalpana, Nepali student (red group)

Monday, April 4, 2011

la la la Sri Lanka

March 10-27, 2011 Spring break in Sri Lanka!! A much needed vacation from the long hours of lesson planning, grading, teaching, student meetings and having no social life. OK, don't get me wrong - I love my job - but I'm not a machine!

A few faves from my wonderfully amazing vacation in Sri Lanka!! :) More pictures here

I was blessed to meet two of my students' mothers. Wasana's mother, Nima's mother, and a family friend while showing me around Colombo.

Elephant Orphanage outside of Kandy


waiting for our train, taking pictures of other trains going through the station in Kandy

on the most beautiful train ride from Kandy to Ella...I sat in the doorway with my feet dangling out the door most of this train ride - one, for the fresh air. two, because I kept giving up my seat to cute little old ladies that needed to sit more than I did.

this was one of those ladies who i gave my seat up to :) 

gorgeous country side.

storm rolling in!

Our awesome tomato farmer that led Michelle and I up to the top of Ella's rock, barefoot. Apparently we looked lost as we tried to read our scribbled down directions from our lonely planet guide. Thank goodness for him and his machete that was to protect us from the wild boars (?!?! yikes!)

Unawatuna!! <3 

Unawatuna was such a lovely way to end our vacation! I loved our guest house/hotel that we stayed at -- secluded at the end of the beach with slotted doors allowing the sounds of the waves crashing to soothe us to sleep every night! :) 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Happy International Mother Language Day and Happy Birthday to Kristen

February 21, 2011 Another day off of school for a national holiday. As has been the case lately, holidays and weekends do not necessarily mean a day of rest and relaxation. School is in full swing and has been busier than ever, meaning lots of fun and exciting activities (and academic work). International Mother Language Day was a wonderful experience that I'm glad I woke up early for :) Students gathered at 7am (yes, it was optional and yes, students didn't actually start showing up until closer to 7:30....we should have known better!!) at the university gate - all dressed in black and white ready to walk to the national monument in Chittagong where we would donate our flowers. Along the walk, students sang songs to show their Bangla pride and purchased Bangladeshi flag headbands. The students had told me we would walk barefoot, which I contemplated but wasn't sure if I would actually walk the streets of Chittagong barefoot....I later found out that in Dhaka there is a special walking area and people do make long walks barefoot (on painted pavement adorned with flowers). Without those special arrangements in Chittagong we walked to the monument before removing our shoes (thank goodness!).

After the International Mother Language Day ritual/ceremony was complete, the students seemed to quickly scatter. It was about 10:30 by the time we made it home....time to eat breakfast/lunch and nap! The nap was necessary because we had a student-faculty basketball game at 4! The faculty won 38-14 but the students scored 12 points in the second half!! Of course, what do you do after any team sport, win or lose??? Eat ice cream, of course! So we treated our students to ice cream after the game!

After the basketball game, it was time to freshen up and cook some bruschetta (Michelle and mine's contribution) for Kristen's birthday celebration! It was a delicious night including bruschetta, pineapple pizza calzones, hamburgers and french fries, and chocolate cake with bounty bars!

Here are some pictures from the day....enjoy!

My students, past and present....Nusrat (white group), Khadiza (red group), and Saika (orange group)

 Vietenamese students showing their multiculturalism

One of the students with a hat she made - it was intense, blood and all! (ok, fake blood)

 Tien and another student with the spirited Bangladeshi flags! The whole city is green with red dots -- the CNGs are green and now they have all painted red dots on them to show their pride on National Mother Language Day.

 Intense face painting!

Once we made it to the monument (a 40 minute walk) we took off our shoes before visiting the monument and donating our flowers.

 The students and our flower arrangement
 AUW on International Mother Language Day, February 21, 2011

Everyone was showing their Bangla pride!

A group of cheerful boys
Happy Birthday to Kristen!!

yummy birthday cotton candy! :)

All those years that I played basketball (and dreaded practice)...who would have ever thought I'd be playing basketball in Bangladesh!!
Celebrating with ice cream!! :) 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Fishery Ghats

February 12, 2011 I finally made it to the fishery ghats! Claudio, AUW's professional photographer, graciously donated 6 SLR cameras to the photography club because last time he was here the photography club had NO cameras!! After the symposium he has been at AUW teaching groups of students how to use the cameras and leading them on trips to document the Saraswati Puja. This past weekend he took the photography club to one of his favorite places in Chittagong, the fishery ghats. For the best photos and most action at the fish market we left early, early, early (6am) Saturday morning. It was so worth it! There was so much happening - building ships, unloading fish, transporting huge blocks of ice, selling the fish, drying the fish, etc. I even boldly climbed up a flimsy ladder with 2 students to explore a ship being built - we found out that it only takes them 3 months to build the ships - crazy, huh?! Big thanks to Claudio for an awesome field trip and for renewing my love of photography! Oh yeah, and donating cameras to the photography club so the students can finally be little shutterbugs!

Here are a few of my favorites from the day....enjoy!