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!