Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pack out shesh

In a month, we get on a plane in Dhaka... but it's a one way plane. As much as we are always happy about the thought of a trip OUT of Dhaka, I hate the fact that this time there is no scheduled flight back.

"Home" for us and others in this line of work is more of a state of mind than a physical place. All of our  "homes" have a part of our heart. And Bangladesh is now very high on that prestigious list. America is absolutely the land of opportunity, but while we look forward to the conveniences, cleanliness and beauty of her, the rat race and keeping up with the Jones parts are dreaded. I enjoy our slow pace of life. I see that going away... too soon.

About 2 weeks ago, we packed up our HHE (ocean transit, household effects). It was a smooth 3 days. The Homebound movers were BEYOND wonderful, so careful and courteous. I think it unlikely that we will ever again have such a helpful group in this career, though maybe we'll be happily surprised.
They packed things so well, in fact, that we had to ask for a little less packaging, after Chris compared our bicycle frames to see the first one once packed weighed 38 lbs, but the loose other bicycle only weighed 17 lbs. Too much cush.

When we arrived, we were overweight. Ouch on the finances and a mental note to not do that again. We planned to junk our king mattress, lots and lots of clothes, papers and junk. But we also had a baby here with all the layette to go along, purchased new china and acquired new furniture. And don't even get me started about the intimate relationship we have with Amazon and 
We squeaked in at 7,147 lbs!! We are entitled 7,200 lbs. Did I mention my work history is logistics? But think it was luck, good luck. We were actually light enough the night before loading, that we went uptown to Gulshan's DIT2 shopping area and bought 2 sets of antique family temple doors to add to our shipment. I've wanted to buy some for a long time, and the available weight allowance was my green light.

We've also said goodbye to our beloved car and in a few weeks we'll adios our last bit of air freight. The empty suitcases beckon our handful of clothes and trinkets to take home for our IL family visit before we make our way to Texas and our new home, which we have yet to find.

It's a regular saying here that people cry when they learn they're being posted to Dhaka and cry again when they leave. Everything is pretty ready, except my mental conception of leaving this crazy place we call home. I should contact the Kleenex folks now to see if they'd like to film a new commercial. Airport day is going to be wet.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Amin Bazar & Gaabtolly New Cattle Market

This past week I had the opportunity for a photo outing with a fellow photo loving friend. We drove west out of Dhaka on Mirpur Road to an area called Amin Bazaar, along the Turag River. This area is where barges or open hulled boats offload their goods from upriver. Most of the commodities through here are construction materials: rock, sand, bricks and coal. Workers earn about 1-2 taka (keep in mind 80 taka makes $1 usd) per basket they deliver. In the middle of the acreage is a cattle and buffalo market.
(above l to r- boss paying chips for baskets, boss man, mechanics, washing up)
(bottom 2nd from left- counting chips from carrying baskets)  

We were quickly accompanied by many workers curious to why 2 young white women would be in this area of town. Though we weren't afraid for our safety, it was quite intimidating to have so much attention so quickly. Shortly after, rain started in, which was actually good timing. We were near ready to bail from our excursion, due not only to the rain but mostly the extreme attention, when we headed out of the alleys toward the car. In our excitement to take photos, we headed out without an umbrella. As the rain thickened, a merchant in one of the sand offices invited to come in for a seat and wait out the rain. His invitation graduated into the best opportunity of the day.

As the rain fell, we were oogled upon. While the merchant and we ladies chatted in English, about 25 spectators gazed upon us and giggled from time to time. We spoke of the operations here at Amin Bazar, America, traveling, our thoughts of Bangladesh and more. 

Eventually we came to the "Can I ask you a personal question? Are you married?" A few in the crowd had finally persuaded Roni to ask the question.

It's always interesting to speak marriage here. Much of the region, here and in India and Pakistan, practices the long tradition of arranged marriages. For minutes we spoke of our marriages, her and mine by love and his by arrangement, and of our children.The rain lingered on as we dreaded the untimely curtailment of our trip. As we were such a spectacle, we knew when the rain stopped that we should head out. The attention was not good for us and the interruption to work was not good for the merchants or the workers.

And then out of my mouth, "We hope we aren't interrupting your day. Are you very busy?"
He was not and was happy of our accepting his invitation to sit.
And then I asked if he'd walk with us, show us around the barge area and the nearby cattle market.
My friend may how thought I'd fallen off my rocker, but it became a welcome extension to our outing.

(above/below: The young man in black kept eye contact with me from off the boat until 
I couldn't see him anymore...made for a couple memorable photos)
And so, after 2 attempts to outsmart the rain, we journeyed around the yards. The mood lightened with us and the workers. Having a man beside us completely changed things for the better. Many exchanges of pleasantries and hellos or "where are you from"s were tossed around as we walked.

We ventured again along the riverfront activity and meandered through the cattle and water buffalo market. I was pleasantly surprised at the good care for the animals at the market. They were being fed beautiful healthy grasses, being bathed and well cared for. The stalls were continually being cleaned.

(above left- our gracious impromptu guide)

And many beautiful faces filled our lenses.  I dread next week when our car leaves Bangladesh and my excursions come to an end. Photography is my drug here in a land of such colorful subjects.