Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Last Call

Friends, Family and whomever else it may concern,

Please come in. Have a seat, stay a while, for we have much to talk about.

"Such as?"

"Why, relationships of course,"

"I thought you wrote only about your adventures in the Desh?"

"Since when?" What blog have you been reading?

"Since ... (A lulu quietness an almost confused look) ... OK so why relationships? Why bother?"

"Because every day we have countless relationships to maintain, strengthen, or watch deteriorate. The success or failure of these daily social interactions is based on one thing and one thing only: communication."

"I see."

"Do you? Because in a truly successful relationship one side does not dominate the communications paths, but in fact, each side shares a mutual respect for what the other has to say. Even if both sides agree to disagree"

"Are you trying to save the world?" I know you are in Peace Corps and all, but isn’t this all a little bit extreme?

Ok, you got me, I’m just trying to be interesting so you’ll read my updated and complete blog.

"Carry on then,"

"I appreciate your imaginary support."

"No problem, I’m here to help”

With a little help from my friends (due to circumstances beyond my control will be with myself. A long running theme for return readers) I will delve into what I consider the most important relationship: The office vs. the volunteer. Because after all Peace Corps wouldn’t exist without the volunteers.

How will you achieve this?

I offer you, to my own bewilderment the method behind my madness:
Point-Counterpoint

Topic #1 Why was Peace Corps taken out of Bangladesh? Side note: Peace Corps I.E Travis and his buddies were taken out of the Desh on March 12. Now that I have brought the formerly pacific nation of Bangladesh to the verge of a revolution, right now seems like a dandy time to tell you about it.

Point: (Merlin, the wizard, prophet and adviser for Arthur himself) It will be very easy to answer your question. It’s obvious really, due to your (Travis) amazing English teaching Bangladesh no longer needs your help in strengthening their forces in the English power. Your control, wisdom, and infinite knowledge over Grammar and the English language are proven with each blog entry.

Counter point: (Knowledge better know as reality, or a donkey) The decision to suspend the program was because of Bangladeshs broader security environment or lack their of. (Please refer to previous blog entry on ‘Safety and security in the desh’)

Point: Someone didn’t have much luck in Teaching their English classes while they were in the desh. Clearly someone didn’t integrate into their site/town very well.

Counterpoint: Sounds to me a certain Volunteer has lost touch with reality and all common sense. (point me, Burned!)

Point: Only if reality means playing badminton with the locals and varying degrees of attention deficit disorder. So what, life in the desh was a little Krazy, it’s the developing world after all. Yeah they almost have running water and squat toilets. But we all know it’s not going to be like America, that’s why you go there for an Adventure like no other (shameless self promotion, coming summer 2006 to a bookstore near you).

Counterpoint: I see how it is. We're playing prison rules. Listen, it is our job to keep the volunteers safe and that is the most importation thing. It is always easier to be a Monday morning quarterback. Well, here in reality there is no re-set button. And I don’t like going to funerals.

Topic #2 Why were the DYD (department of youth and Development) always complaining about the TEFELS (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) not doing anything?

Point: (a TEFEL volunteer) I would like to say that I did next to nothing during my service. In between dodging bombs and pooping all the time, I couldn’t find much time to do anything else. TEFL volunteers didn't do anything...not lying.

Counterpoint: (my Father) If the schools were a joke and didn’t do anything. Why didn’t you take some of that American zest your always talking about and start your own school? You were always talking about how everybody wanted to be your best friend and how you stopped traffic when you went places. Why didn’t you use your star power for good instead of just being lazy sitting under the fan all day?


Point: It's not like I enjoyed doing nothing, the schools are the masters of the TEFL volunteer's destiny and when the schools do nothing(which was frequent) the volunteers do nothing (though, they could do other things, but that required a little more time than what we were given).

Counterpoint: Should TEFELs even be considered teachers when most taught class once or twice a month?

Point: Neither should be considered teachers because they aren't...that's just how it is.


(Bonus topic for my own personal curiosity) Who is was the bigger star
in the desh, the TEFEL or the DYD?

Ben: Neither TEFL nor DYD were greater than the other. This is not due to the mutual respect held by colleagues but rather because Ben was the biggest star and he considers all below him: they are equal in that they are both not Ben.

Counterpoint: (my Father) If you are worried about who was cooler or signed more autographs in the Desh, then you missed the point of your adventure. There are no stars, you all were working together to give hope and help uplift people that wanted the chance to make a better life for themselves.


Each day started with unlimited potential for happiness. Just like the beginning of a spring day. The only thing that could soil a day was people,(or the lack of toilet paper). And if you could keep from making engagements each day had no limits, people were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as a (nice Top-City) spring day itself.

Post script: More to come, I have no idea what my next move is or will be. There is a good chance I may be going on another adventure.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

For Adventure: just leave the house

Salutations,


Here in Bangladesh, I seem to suffer from a space-time continuum. I am well aware that time is passing, but I have lost touch with it... Anyways, each day here is miraculously odd. One day I might actually teach and have a great class. Have some fun learning and despite my best efforts learn something. (all this is surprisingly tricky if you've never tried it) The next day I might be laid out in my bed in the wee-hours of the morning with stomach pains swearing that I'm going to die. One time it was so bad, my bones even hurt.(can your bones hurt?) A day here might be wonderful or terrible, but I have had very few that are boring. Each morning I wake up with a thought: What's going to happen today to make me go "WTF" Strange things always seem to happen to me. Even back home. (just ask my parents) Living in Bangladesh works out rather well for me in this aspect. I don’t' have to go out of my way to find something strange. I just have to leave my house. And sometimes leaving the house isn't even required.

I think it is only a matter of time before I do one of 3 things:
1. Kill my sitemate
2. make out with my sitemate (did I just type that? did you just go what!? good I still have your eyes)
3. Nothing

Ok, I can't bring myself to kill her, she does have a few things going fro her. She loves to cook and always wants to have me over for dinner. But, this in itself is a catch. I have no problems getting a free meal. Everyone wants to feed me here, I'm not talking about just snacks either. People want me to eat each and every meal with them! I turn down offers for food everyday. My sitemate can cook American food really well I might add. The other day she made Banana Pancakes that were Amazing! Also, she speaks really good English, which is a plus. Yet, I also have several local friends who speak strikingly good English. All and all, this country is nothing but a bunch of Catch 22. However these 3 things will be noted next time I see her (which will be in a few hours, because she cannot go an entire day alone..)

I went to a wedding yesterday in the village. It was a good 30 min motorbike ride out there. On the way out, I got to see the natural beauty of Bangladesh that everyone is always "hyping up." It was over the river and through the woods to grandfathers house we go. Except, I really did go over a river and through many rice fields in order to arrive. I even got to cross a bamboo bridge. Now calling it a bridge, really is giving the structure to much credit. I was a single piece of bamboo with a sort of railing along one side that flexed like a rubber band when you touched it. I’m really glad that I took that tight roping class back in high school (please note the sarcasm and bad spelling) Anyways, I made it across with no problems and with my pride more robust then before. Shortly after walking around and over a few more rice patties, a kind of canal system and many other things I cannot describe here we arrived at Grandfathers house. The house was nothing more than a tin shed. Granted, a nice one. Like you can by down at the local hardware store. It has a nice view of the rice patties that surround it and shade is provided on all sides by palm tress.

I admire the people that live in the village. They live very simple lives. They have very little, they need very little though. These people survive in Bangladesh largely as their fathers did, and their fathers before them. As I watched one of the kids go running up a palm tree (calling it climbing would be an insult, because climbing infers effort was made) once to the top smack, smack, with the machete. Down came two coconuts. Then it was back down and two more whacks with and before I knew it I was drinking fresh coconut water straight from the source. This made me realize that I would never make it in the village. First, I'm a wimp, a real city boy. I can climb a tree (I think) but as far as chopping a coconut in one or two fatal whacks and substance farming.... NO CHANCE! In the same light, this kind standing before we with a machete smiling has no idea how to drive a computer (locals are always asking me to teach them how to work a computer) has no idea who Walt Whitman is and most likely has no idea how to read. But, he has or is mastering the skills required for survival in his environment. Which made me even more jealous. He is sure about his world. (or at least I think he is) Rain comes from the sky, food is rice it is good for you and comes from the ground. Yes, things are difficult, but if my father can do it, so can I. My life back home in the state is so much more confusing...

My moment of Zen was short lived, it was now time to walk back to the wedding party where upon arrival I found that they had made a special table for Travis and Fayez (my host father) After eating way to much fried rice it was time to go to the VIP room. Side note: myself and other older men went into a separate room, Why I have no idea, I am not an elder nor am I that importation. Either way I got to sit in a soft chair which was under a fan so who am I to complain. Upon sitting down I faced the same Questions and stares from at least 47 people. One man came up to me and said or mumbled in his case. Desh, Desh, Desh, to which I replied Ki (what in Bangla) then he said it again to which I realized that he wanted to know which country I was from.(it's really rather odd, everywhere I go. People claim to speak Bangla but I have no idea what they are saying....everyone and everyplace has a different dialect. More so then a listening to someone from Minnesoter ah) Back to the topic at hand. I tell him America and he says "Bush" (who is our president) and I reply that I don't like him and that he is pogo (mad in Bangla) to which everyone in the rooms starts laughing really loud.

People here find it amazing that I don't like our president. It's really something for me to speak out against our leader in their eyes and minds. Then it hit me. In America whether we know it or not, we have complete confidence in the system. (yes, that was a rather bold statement) You are never dedicated to something you have complete confidence in. Example: America. If I don't vote or do anything really, the system will go on just fine without me. Back home things are Stable. Not so here in the Desh. People are fanatically dedicated to politics here because their system of life and democracy is in doubt.

On our way home the motorcycle picks up a flat tire. We have to push the cycle maybe half a Km or so to get it repaired. We take it to a place that fixes rickshaws (the village we were nearest didn't have a cycle shop) The guy takes out his hammer and other tools, then proceeds to start banging and downing whatever else is required to rip off the back wheel of our motorbike. After getting out of the way of a couple parts that were flung at me, I decide that I have seen enough and walk over to a tea stand and get a cup of tea along served with some thoughts on morality. While, I’m enjoying my hot beverage on a hot afternoon. I can't help but find my mind wondering what exactly my chance are of this rickshaw guy fixing a motorbike. These thoughts are only made worse when I see him taking spokes out from the wheel. Now I will admit that I don't know much about motorcycle maintenance. but, I'm pretty sure you need those, and while where at it, I don't think that goes there, and don't you need that screw? I’m so going to die on the way back home. I can see it now, we hit a bump go over a rock and it is goodbye Travis, there is no way that that a rickshaw fixer can fix a motorcycle.... However, like most things, Ignorance is bliss. And riding the motorcycle sure beat walking the 10 km back to town. In the end I escaped death in the desh once again. So I've got to put this in the win column. (it does make you wonder how they fix other stuff though)

As if that wasn't enough excitement for one day. I got the chance to go over to one of my students houses for tea and snacks. as, if you are wondering if it is correct for me to do this, I am right with you. But, like most things. Bangladesh plays by different rules. Here it is expected that a teacher visits the students homes. I make my way over to the house 2.5 hours late (see above) on my way over I had to stop and pick up my sitemate (we really do almost everything together, kind of like that doll commercial from way back. you remember the jingle? Kid sister, wherever I go she goes, kid sister and me) Mental check: After being here in Bangladesh for 8 months I am well aware that I have taken a step or many steps from reality... Anyways, once at the house we were severed cold Tang. Which is a really good thing, I've always been rather fond of Tang and my appearation for the drink has only grown here in the Desh. For some reason or another cold things seem to taste so much better here then in America. Most likely because A/C doesn't exist. In order to give you an idea of just how hot it is and how hot it is going to get I turn to Robin Williams and a quote from Good Morning Vietnam; " It's hot, it's damn hot, and tomorrow it's gonna' be hotter! You got a window? Opent it!! I'm gonna' do some crotch pot cookin' it's good if you with a lady... (that's pretty close to what is says, also please refer to this movie for a protrail of how my English classes run) It is just something that the developed world has (A/C), along with toilets, lots and lots of toilets that you can sit down on...

After two hours of "gossiping" as the locals like to call it, it was time to teach the Teachers at Ideal school. And hour long class where I give advise to 6th and 7th grade teachers on how to make their classes better and more interesting. Yes, I have no idea how I am qualified to do this. The government trust me though... Once class was over it was time to walk back home with the good feeling that another day was completed and wondering what will happen tomorrow to make me go "WTF!"

Monday, February 20, 2006

Being sick and other comments worth sharing

One-Worlders,


Nothing has happened yet everything is different.I got sick for the first time in the desh. It was not to fun at all I must admit. I threw up and pooped a lot. Did you know it's possible to poo and throw up at the same time? Nor did I. At one point I was so dehydraded that I fainted which was pretty scary. Right now I'm taking Syprio and that seems to be doing the trick. I'm trying to push the fluids.Both the medical office and I think I just had a bad case of the flew... But, if I get sick again in a few weeks I will have to do a MEF kit. Which means I get to poop in a can and a lab get to check it out... Pretty exciting... In other news Bird flu found it's way into India. Which means that it is ever closer to the desh. If Bird flu come to Bangladesh, Travis will be on his way home. The desh has no way to stop on outbreak and with so many people the death toll will be worse then when the black plague hit Europe so long ago. Bangladesh does have one thing going for it though. No birds that migrate fly through the desh, so even the birds know not to come here...

In truth what do I see? At least I am not nourished in the same way as the tourists (not that Bangladesh gets that many anyways) and I find it strange, on the few brochures that I do find or any travel brochure for that matter what they show. They only seem to highlight the high points, they show only the best, pay no attention to anything else...No, one doesn’t come to know a country or find an interpretation of life in this way. That is a luxurious facade, while its true soul is reflected in the everyday citizen, the farmer, and the anxious passer buy one gets to know.

Being from America means that I have a very privileged status. Add the fact that I am a white boy and my status only grows. America really is the best and worst of all worlds. Everyone wants to live there and be an American. We are the trendsetters, the kids that sit at the cool lunch table. Our soft power extends into the deepest part of all cultures. Please note that there is hard power, I.E. guns and bombs. Then soft power is the media, newspapers and things of that nature, basically our way of thinking. It’s how the cold war was won without a single shot being fired. Soft power lets people decide for themselves if they want to follow or buy into your ideas. It’s the idea of what America is and what it represents that makes us so powerful. Sadly our current leaders have done little to embrace this. In fact they have done more harm then good in my opinion.

America is unlike any other place in the world. We really don’t have a class structure. In the Desh I often here people talking about their dream of going to America and the American dream. Rags to riches. I have yet to hear a Bangladesh dream or an English dream. (In fact they don’t even have the same ring to them) Europe and people in general love to make fun of our optimism, or krazy notion that every problem has a solution, that tomorrow can be better then yesterday, the future is bright and is something that should be welcomed, not feared. I think that’s a big reason why some people/counties hate the USA. They envy us and want what we have. (America has done a good job of beating down everyone in everything for the last 50 years or so) What’s more is, the world needs Americas optimism. If America goes dark as a society, the world will not only become a darker place, it will also become much poorer. Our current leader has taken something away that is very dear to the citizens of the US and the world for that matter. America has gone from Exporting Hope to exporting Fear. That’s the reason why the rest of the world hates Bush so much and cannot understand how we ever elected him.

For the first time in my life I am witnessing the harsh reality of the have and have nots. I have crossed the divide from Western Culture and have been thrown into this ignored, backwards, indigenous culture. In the crowded busses I travel, carrying produce and humans the same as cargo I always get the best seat, wait in no line and it is the locals that ride on top or are forced to stand wherever open space is at. For all the lack of money I have, Mine is still a privileged journey, and I know it. As a white American, I am a “social superior” of all these around me, and this mean I am able to obtain favors and concessions beyond the imagining of a local Bangladeshi.

Speaking of how life here compares to life in America. Comparisons are odious. It doesn’t make a difference whether you are in Bangladesh sitting under a fan trying to sleep inside your misquote net or your are laying on your super posh couch back home in the states. Nothing is ever complete. Anyone can live anywhere. I’ve realized this (Peace Corps) would do me a lot of good and get me away from drinking and maybe make me appreciate perhaps a whole new way of living.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

How do you see Bangladesh?

Hello everyone,

After yet another blogg of trying to be funny and looking on the lighter side of things. This one will read more like a term paper. But, insightful none-the-less.

Bangladesh has been ranked 141 out of 161 countries in the 2005 index of Economic Freedom. A little report done by the Wall Street Journal and the Heritage Foundation. Bangladesh was placed in the thrid of four categories: Free, Mostly free, mostly unfree, and unfree expressed in terms of Economic freedom. Hong Kong was ranked first along with 16 other counrties dubbed as free.

Bangladesh has a weak rule of law, this is evident in some of the worlds worst official corruption, civil crime, and poilitical violence continues to burden Bangladesh's democracy. The report went on to say, "Until the government addresses Bangladesh's many structural weaknesses, there is little reason for optimism about the counrty's future."

Bangladesh was ranked 17th in the global ranking of failed states by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Bangladesh was grouped with 20 other countries deemed as most critical and vulnerable. This failed states index used 12 social, economic, political and military indicatiors to rank 60 countries in order of their vulnerability to violent internal conflict. Bangladesh scored highest in the two indicators of uneven development and criminalization.

The reprot stated that these failing states were breeding grounds for terrorism, organized crime, weapons proliferation, humanitarian emergencies, environmental degradation and political extremism that threaten everyone. Bangladesh has also been named "the most Dysfunctional country in Asia" by the Asia Times. Bangladesh has been dubed, Champions of Corruption. It has ranked first by Transparency International for 5 successive years. I'm sure this title cannot be good for the courtries image abroad... Many have argued about Bangladesh being the most corrupt or more corrupt. But, one doesn't have to look very hard to find corruption. It's anywhere and everywhere, I even have it in my classroom. What I mean by this, is I am supposed to be able to choose my own students, but for some reason or another, I am told I will have these students in my class.

The Economist a great magazine based in London that I hope you read or at the very least have heard of published an article entitled "Bangladesh: State of Denial." Among the many quotes and statements that stuck me from this article, one stands out. "Bangladesh is among the most sparsely covered (countires)by the international press. This is in part the government choice. It makes it hard for foreign journalists to visit. When they do, it tends not to like what they write, especially recent suggestion that Bangladesh is witnessing a rise in Islamic extremism, and becoming a heaven for International terrorists." If a countries press is supposed to be the nationas conscious, Bangladesh has a slight problem...

Let's expand on the "state of Denial" I experense this Denail everwhere and everyday. No matter where I go people ask me how I feel in Bangladesh, if I have any problems and other questions of that nature. If I tell them the turth, your education system is a mess, you treat women like crap and the vast majority of your popultaion can't read and write, not to mention that most people here have the mind-set of a middle schooler... If I said that a local wouldn't believe me and tell me that is not Bangladesh. It's like having a huge elephant in your room and paying no attention to it. Not admitting to yourself that's it there, hoping that by not admitting it's there it will somehow magicly disappear.

Bangladesh scored the lowest marks among 209 low income countries in 2004, in the World Banks governance situation survey. Bangladesh PRSP forum Economic Update: Recent Developments and Future Prespective. The surevey was conducted on six indicators of the governance issue which were: voice and accountability, political stability, government effectiveness, regulatory quality, rule of law, and control of corruption. Bangladesh scored the lowest in 4 out of 6 and second to last in the other two. The report went on to say that Improved governace is essential for the success of Bangladesh's economy and poverty reduction, and more of Bangladesh's major development partners will be not able to sustain its support if the government does not squarely address the governance agenda.

After reading all of this the future does not look bright.... Which begs a few questions.

1. Is Bangladesh a failed state?
2. Is Bnagladesh a failed society?
3. What can be done to get the desh headed in the right direction?
4. How does Peace Corps and Travis Schultz fit into this picture...

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Cookin' on another planet

Hello one and all,

This weeks blogg is going to be completely different. First some background... I'm in Dhaka for a meeting with the head safety and security guy from Washington. So I'm taking this chance to write more clever and stunning insights about the lighter side of Bangladesh.(is their any other options?) Or the maddness as I have "coined" it... Today I am joined by Ben "ron" Mexico. A fellow PCV (Peace Corps Volunteer) who is just trying to live his fashion dream in the desh.

Recent events in the desh has brought us to a few questions about sercurity.

1. What is sercurity?
2. Why is it a myth here in the desh?
3. What is time?
4. Why are we here?

All these questions however are going to be delt with later(when we actually know the answers...so never) or hopefully this afternoon when we have our meeting with Pat hogan...perhaps related to Hulk Hogan, also rumored to be Crocodile dundee... Who still is inferior to Chuck Norris anyways.

Until then, let's review my journey through the looking glass so far:

August: a tornado picked up my house and landed me in oz. Well, oz minus the emerald city and the yellow brick road...and anything remotely sweet or resembling Kansas in the mid 1940s. If you see some ruby slippers plese forward them my way(This is most likely to be done in vain because customs will steal them). Actually, just take a concrete oz and throw trash everywhere.

September-October: training comes and goes in a fury of heat induced insanity fits that causes me to speak bangla, wipe my you know what and eat with my hands, and tear up/repave a perfectly good road several times simply cause that's what i do (what other reason is there?) but, i swear in as a volunteer and laugh hysterically at my friend seth eden as he manages to prove over the course of 8 hours (or more; in fact it's uncertain when he started drinking or if he ever stopped for that matter) that alcohol poisoning is a myth and drunken wandering of the streets of dhaka (emerald city - emeralds - wizard + trash + misery) won't necessarily get you stabbed in a ditch by morning.

November- Present: I go to site. Bombs go off. Volunteers quit. I don't quit. I go to Dhaka (see formula above) for security meetings. Learn that I actually died yesterday. Went to American Club and drowned my bliss (happiness - joy + misery)in Hienekin. I was also really sick,( a 102 temp to be exact. And I woke up shaking because I was so cold) but I got better only to realize I was still in Bangladesh (which it seems no medicine can cure but the malaria meds give me nice dreams).

I'll leave you with some eternal words... "When the boogie man goes to sleep at night, he checks his closet for Chuck Norris"

The maddness continues...

Now for the weekend update. The big news is that I now have a site mate. Yes, after being the only American at my site I now have a buddy. Her name is Emily and she will be teaching at a private school. I'll be honest with you. I was begining to like being the only American in my town. I read and wrote a lot and did whatever I wanted. And now I have this person who wants to hang out everyday(dare I say she cramps my style?). I'm not saying that it's a bad thing to have another American to kick it with. It's just a change. I'm still on the fense if it is a good thing or not.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Alive in the Desh

Greetings,

After coasting my way through the hoildays and the new year I promise to bring you more stunning insights and events from Bangladesh.


Life here is more boring then the 2nd week of winter break. I have no classes to teach and no homework to do. I was supposed to start teaching in Jan... But, after having a couple pointless meetings and when the dept head says... I don't see how my students can benfit from taking an English class from you. My students are more interested in English Lit. than English... Please keep in mind this was in the English dept.... Believe it or not that isn't the best line. One professor told me to wait 5 min. he would be right back. I finally gave up after 2 hours... After talking with the economic dept I find out that the college has a cultural program for the rest of this month and I might get to start teaching in Feb.... Yeah, so needless to say I don't do much of anything. The college is always closed and I might teach 100 days out of 365. I'll be honest here. I'm starting to like sleeping late and reading a few hours a day.... So far in a little over 6 months I have read about 16 books...

Now on for the excitment of new years in the desh. After throwing up all day on the day before the new year... I took it easy. I went to some sort of program that had a debate which I was a judge at and I also gave a 20 minute speech on whatever I wanted... I found out about all of this on a walk that one of my buddies and I went on It just happened that we were walking to this cultural event... The daily star (english speaking paper of the desh) is launching some magazine and of course they want the American front and center and they want me to be writer for this publication as well...

I played badminton with my host fam and won the block badminton tournment... Sidenote: Yes, I am happy to report that I have a lighted Badminton court in my front yard. After much bickering on my part.Did you know that you can get a university schlorship to play badminton in Bangladesh? Back to the subject at hand, After badminton we ate rich food which means fried rice (yes, anything and everything can be fried and it is in the desh) and had soda or cold drinks as they like to call them...(or at least they had soda, I had Gatoraide!! One of the best X-mas gifts I have ever gotten!!) Everyone was in bed around 11:30. SO I brought in the new year watching a EPL game on TV all by myself..

Which brings us to EID day. I survied bloody eid day.It is the second biggest muslim hoilday and Ahalla demands that you make a great sacrifice.... So everyone buys a goat, cow, or camel if your really rich. I named our cow George Bush. I found it very fitting that he was going to be sacrificed in the name of Allah. The sacrifice itself wasn't freaking me out as much as the fact that it was going to happen in our front yard the place where I play badminton everynight!, and my host fathers were going to kill this cow with rusty daggers that looked a shank or whatever those things are called that prisioners make.. It was a little to midevil for my liking. The weirdest part was that after they got done cutting up the cow, beggers came and we just gave out beef like it was halloween candy...

Today, I will leave you with this thought from my bus trip to the office. As I hopped on the bus and slid my way to the window seat. The bus driver took us through the maze of side streets and partial highways, I gazed out the window and happened upon a phenomenon: Bangladishes like to stand in the street.

Sometimes they're moving, or jaywalking to us Americans, sometimes they're sitting on the middle divider of a highway(or just standing where a divider should be) having a conversation with their 3 year old, and many times they want to get my attention by saying HELLO! has loud as they can. But, most of the time they tell their friends and point. Leaving me to wonder, what are all these people doing??

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

X-MAS Fun

In previous bloggs, due to having to pay for internet time, I stopped writing once the money had expired, and all of my anguish and inactivity was banished to the outer reaches of my mind. But now, with the outright graciousness of Peace Corps. (free internet at the office) I'm like the Love Boat: exciting and new.

For the first time I can be a true columnist(just like the ones you read every day in the local paper) and not be restrained to personal experience, group gatherings or intimate conversations with myself. I can talk about my outrage over the things that make no sense in Bangladesh,I can even spell check my blogg for the first and only time ever! And even more thrilling (for me), I can communicate my subtle bias in a variety of true columnist ways:

1. Do extensive interviews to propel a purported point and push an agenda.
2. Inject a dose of morality (perhaps with photographs) to pull on the heartstrings.
3. Make stuff up.

I'll be honest, I find option No. 3 the most intriguing. So now the question is, should I write what I really feel or what people come to expect from me and my blogg (an issue I'm positive everyone has been debating since hearing about my blogg)? Hmm. Since I've never been one to pander to the masses, I am going to write what I really feel -- in a format that is expected: a David Letterman-style/Top Ten/VH1/E! Entertainment/Best-Of List. AKA The Daily Show!!!

A list has order, a top-to-bottom hierarchy, and manifests itself to us on a daily basis. Lists are everywhere, and the pull is strong. Everyone wants to know what, when, where, why, how and who No. 1 is, then we can talk about it. But not just talk:

1. Speculate.
2. Argue.
3. Agree to disagree.
4. Provide evidence for why someone or something else should be No. 1.

In essence, lists create a diversion to the mundane and give us a reason to hear ourselves talk. So in the spirit of hearing my own voice, I will address all the topics that come fast and furious during the rumor and speculation-fueled life of a Peace Corps Volunteer one list at a time.

Reasons why Travis joined Peace Corps

6. Free T-shirt
5. I always wanted to eat rice 3 times a day everyday
4. I wanted to live off of the taxpayers and this seems to be a better option then walefare
3. Does this country called "Bangladesh" really exist?
2. I always wanted to read War and Peace
1. I don't want to get a "real job"

Most annoying ailment/injury to Peace Corps Volunteers in Bangladesh

6. abandoned construction
5. rickshaws
4. hartals
3. malaria
2. diahrrea
1. bombs

Reasons Travis will be successful as an English Teacher in Bangladesh

6. Peace Corps has gaven me the green light to wear sweats during class
5. I speak better English then the locals
4. I won't beat the students
3. I'll be honest here, they are at rock bottom already so there really is nowhere to go but up
2. I'm Travis Schultz
1. In the Desh teaching 100 days out of 365 is a success.


Places not to go in the desh

7. Close your eyes and point. Don't go where ever you point
6. Hospital
5. D.C. office
4. your place of work
3. a ride with RAB
2. the butcher
1. jail

Best thing about being in the desh

5. mango bars
4. sweet man love
3. all the rice I could ever want
2. autographs
1. No matter what I do people won't stare more


All I want for Christmas is

7. Has it been 2 years yet?
6. Pizza Hut gift card
5. Bird Flu shot
4. more sailor suits
3. college football
2. cold beverages
1. package from America

** I got the idea for this blogg after reading Jimmy Conrad's article on ESPN.com**

Today I will leave you with this quote from a fellow PCV AKA a fellow hardliner :

"The reasons for quiting are inconsequential.(leaving the desh early) The reasons for staying illogical. I've vowed to stay till the bitter end and a bitter end that may be since the bombers have upped the antie with suicide bombers, a new feature to the Bangladesh dark comedy, and I'm laughing. I'm laughing like a mad ass hiyena on the ruthless salvannas."

So their you have it, yet more maddness from the Desh. Stay funky and spread the love