Our househelper, Mrs. Mokta, is muslim. Each morning when she arrives and night when she leaves, she covers herself from head to toe. She doesn't cover her face, but does wear a flowered burka over her body and a scarf over her head, which is traditional here for devote muslim women. Daily, she wears a shalwar kamiz (pj type pants and a thigh/knee length tunic top with scarf). Occasionally, if she comes in to babysit in a Friday evening, we might catch a rare glimpse of her in a sari. On those days, we giggle and tell her how pretty she looks. She is quick to blush.
Tonight as she was leaving, she stopped in the kitchen where we were making dinner, to grab a sack. She had on her burka, but didn't have her scarf on yet.
Ceiba said, "Mrs. Mokta has her housecoat on."
It could not have sounded cuter!
We explained to her what Mrs. Mokta was wearing and explained to Mrs. Mokta what a housecoat was. We all enjoyed a smile. And Ceiba got a pronounciation lesson from Mrs. Mokta on the word "burka".
Monday, November 28, 2011
Everyone smiled, and I cackled out loud for minutes, tickling myself again with his quote each time my previous laugh subsided. If you had seen the crazy village backroads we were on (and knew Charlie's charasmatic and witty nature), you couldn't help but chuckle.
It was the day after a nice home cooked Thanksgiving with them and other friends. Ana and Charlie, our upstairs neighbors and aunt/uncle of sorts, had invited us to join them for an afternoon on the river. Ceiba's eyes lit up, Chris happily accepted and my mind soared at the invitation. Unfortunately, Avocet is well into teething, and we were afraid she would not enjoy 3+ hours in the car. We weren't sure what all the ride and boat would entail, so she spent a snuggly afternoon with our ayah/housekeeper in the a/c and the comfort of her own crib.
We took out at 1PM, a caravan of 2 cars - does that actually constitute a caravan? - enroute through the bustling streets of Dhaka. Our journey led us out past the airport and then more off the beaten path, past vibrant markets, villages enjoying their holy day, a wedding, brick breaking, being literally stopped in traffic as men prayed across the street, past waterways and along single lane bridges and narrow paths. Chris & Ceiba sat in the back; I commendeered the front seat, snapping photos all the way.
Arriving at an open soccer field, we parked and gathered our bags. Our driver, Bijoy, stayed with the cars while we ventured to the water's edge, flanked by our welcoming boatsman. The boat floated alone on the low riverbank, a small wood plank out to invite us aboard. First though, there was the business of petting the adorable, coal black kid goats on our way down to the water. Ceiba was nothing short of in love with them, gently kneeling down to touch them, all the while giggling and smiling a genuine, full-bodied smile. She was in her element, loving on the babies and enjoying the attention of the adults around her. We leisurely boarded, laid down our blankets, opened our coolers and saundered our way down the river.
The water level was very low, especially for being so early in the dry season, but we managed quite well the whole afternoon, stopping only a few times to clear water hyacinth and vegetation from the propellor. We enjoyed sausage, cheese, chips/salsa, pecan pie, popcorn, wine and drinks on our ride, while our eyes devoured the view.
The river is alive with activity, beginning with nature, birds mostly, and turning into the vibrant activity of the villagers and farmers along the shore and in passing boats. Many were out hand digging new rice paddies along the banks, now exposed by the dropping water level. Farmers were tending to livestock and beautiful crops; Bangladesh is now well into the prosperous, cool growing season. The brick factory, one of many along the country's waterways, was busy with activity, the heat waves from the ground furnaces visible afar. Ferries chocked full of passengers meandered beside us.
It was a feast for the eyes; my camera seldom lowered from my eyes. It was the rare opportunity to enjoy the many beautiful sights Bangladesh has to offer and a chance to refuel the recently flickering flame for life here. Sometimes daily life in the busy city can wear on me, but it takes the smallest moment to refuel me. Whether it's a quaint encounter with a friendly person uptown or a beautiful day like this outside of town, once replenished, my love for the people and life here is genuine and heartfelt. It is a beautiful place with resilient people. I disappoint myself sometimes when I briefly lose sight of that. The afternoon was a perfect one, and a chance for me to feel artistic again. I could sit behind a lense all day and enjoy the photos a million times over after the moment is gone.
As the sun began to set, we were sad to see our day come to an end. The markets still bustled as we journeyed home. My camera passed out on the ride, worn out from its hard work. What a wonderful day!