Saturday, October 30, 2010

Far Away

When choosing this lifestyle for our family, we knew there would be moments when it would be especially difficult to be living away. There would be new babies, weddings, birthdays, holidays and deaths when we would not be able to be with family and friends. Always, there would be times when we'd feel very absent from back "home". We just didn't think our absence would be felt quite so soon upon leaving.

Last week, a very close uncle unexpectedly passed away. Though my sister and I talk on Skype every week, she had the difficult task to email me the news, so I would know right away. I know she labored over every typed word, but cannot express how much we appreciated that she sent the email. Two weeks into our arrival, there was just no real way for us to get back to Illinois in time. Our phones are local only, until we get a VPN line to use the MagicJack, and our letters to loved ones will take about 2 weeks to arrive. I know our aunt, cousin and family know our scenario and understand. I know how hectic funerals are and that you never have time to visit with everyone. I know they know how very, very much we love them and hurt for their loss. It's still hard to feel so far away.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Our "park"

There is a "park" just a block down from our apartment. We walked there today. I did not have high expectations, so was not crushed when we found it to be a concrete path around a green lake.  It is an effort of the community to have green space, a place to exercise and a safe place to sit and think. Mission accomplished, and every small step counts. We are so used to beautiful green spaces filled with jungle gyms and swings, that it made me sad to not have a swing or fun place for Ceiba to play. It made my mind stray to that place all Foreign Service parents sometimes go, the "are we depriving our children of xyz" thoughts. I know better. I know that while she may miss (heck we all may miss) many comforts of life in the States, we see the bigger picture. The bigger picture of the opportunity this lifestyle can give us, of the expanded view our minds may grow into and of the important work each person can make for our country's diplomacy. 

Wow, I'm getting too deep. Really I just wanted a swing to push her in. Instead we found a deer in a pen and a questionable slide, but we did okay. Every day that we walk out our door to see something new here, I am happy.

Two little boys were visibly not in school, and from across the lake we saw them swimming in the not clean green water. By the time we came around, they were asking for money and smiling. I know the drill by now; I know we will be asked for money… a lot… by almost everyone we pass on the street. We smiled at them, and I politely said I would not be giving them money. So we played on the slide together instead… and giggled and smiled some more. We bid them goodbye and walked on, where I stopped to take a picture or two with my phone. They ran back up to ask for their picture to be taken. I obliged happily and enjoyed their joy to see themselves in my camera.  Again, our cheery goodbye.

They are sweet boys… little boys without much in this world. I wish I could fix the ones cleft lip and palate. I wish I could give them all the money they want. I wish I could feed them everyday. I wish they had a good, safe home to sleep in and a school to spend their days. I will find a way to make a difference while we are living in Bangladesh, whether to 2 sweet little boys or many more. The need is great, and the available hands and hearts are not nearly enough.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Me + cooking this week = sucks

I have cooked every day that we've been here. It isn't always fancy...usually not...but I am SO trying to cook nice meals. Once upon a time, I actually fancied myself a pretty good cook. Not sure if it has anything to do with being half way around the world or not, but lately I really suck at cooking. Chris snickered and asked "WHEN does she start?" tonight when I said an interview for house help went well. Sadly, I second his words and feel sheepish on my cooking suckiness as of late.

Our only spices are salt, pepper and garlic salt. I only bought olive oil yesterday. We have bought little meat (in part due to the beef anthrax warnings...nice). We cannot consume water from the tap, and no way will I ever even cook with it when we have such a nice distiller and jug cooler. The power goes out about 20 times a day... I sh*t you not.  So some evenings I'm either prepping or at least cleaning up dishes in 90 seconds X however many outages of darkness until the generator kicks on. Man, do we HEART the generator! The previous line "cleaning up", yes we do not have a dishwasher other than me.  And I despise doing dishes! So in addition to the giant task of cooking, I then immediately after eating said crappy dinner, have the giant-er task of cleaning up the mountain of dishes.... and bleaching them. Please don't take this post as a pity party, I am still very much enjoying the ride, just noting the big changes from "the way we were" (I know you want to break into song... misty water colors memories...).

We are actually starting to have fun playing Marco Polo in the dark at the dinner table. Marco!

So I am feeling like a fish out of water in the cooking department and look forward to our new helper starting tomorrow! I hope to learn some local recipes from her. She comes highly recommended and even got a "best Bangla cooking we've had while living there" comment from her last family. She came today and though her English is not great (and by all means my Bangla is non-existent), we got on great. Ceiba even got a few minutes of play time with her on the floor and really enjoyed herself. Let's just say she won't have to try very hard to outdo the pitiful meals we've had this past week. We look very forward to dinner tomorrow night!

Here is a sample of the prep for tonight's dinner. It started well...
 Grapes & crab tonight (top), misc fruit/veg & bakery (middle)
 pizza crusts from Lavender grocery store for 25 taka (about $0.30)

We bought the crab claws for 465 taka, under $7 and enough for 3 meals. They didn't turn out too bad, but the fresh spinach from the rooftop garden that I laboriously washed and disinfected, chilled, tempura-ed and tried to flash fry... total poop. Grapes, naan bread, sweet-leaded iced tea (my signature dish) & leftover macoroni = good. So I guess my batting average wasn't completely terrible. But still, very looking forward to not eating my own cooking tomorrow.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

This and that

Our apartment isn't too cozy yet, it's mostly a bunch of sterile furniture and not many personal items. So I'll wait to post house pics for a while. But here are a couple of local produce (after the task of sanitizing it), the shopping circle by our place, the kitchen and the handful of plants who traversed the journey to Dhaka with us.
Nothing makes me feel at home much more than a few plants scattered about the patio. Yes, I could have gotten new plants here, but they wouldn't have had the history that these hold.
We've shopped at local markets, local grocery stores and the commissary, but look forward to finding house help this week to help learn to shop like the locals do. Chris is drinking Cambodian Tiger beer ($0.74/can) and Australian Foster's ($0.95). Old Milwaukee is $4 A CAN! He wouldn't drink it even if it were $0.25 a can, but $4.... that's just wrong.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Beautiful Bangladesh!

We took a day trip to a small village celebrating Durga Puja, a Hindu festival. Much time was spent to (3 hrs) and from (1 hr) the festival. Watching busy life alongside the bus was probably the most interesting way we could have spent the day. The colors in Bangladesh are AMAZING! The genuine smiles and eye contact are wonderful. 
It was a terrific way to see the beautiful sights beyond Dhaka.