Wednesday, March 08, 2006

For Adventure: just leave the house


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!"


Blogger Amy K-H said...

When is your book coming out - I can't wait to get the full version! You have gained wonderful insights and knowledge. Do you plan on coming back or have you found something you have always wanted? I belive Austin is calling your name!!!

Love ya - cous

6:34 AM  
Blogger Matty D said...

What up Trav, still reading and appreciating. Went by the old stomping grounds in Toptown this week... can't wait to hear what you have to say after you get back. Can't wait to grab a Red Strip and chew the fat for a few hours...

6:54 AM  
Blogger Abe said...

Schultzie, it's pretty obvious that you need to make out with the sitemate. What Peace Corps experience would be complete without some hot volunteer-on-volunteer action? By the way, good post. Keep 'em coming.

12:32 AM  
Blogger Rajputro said...

waiting for your update about your sitemate.

3:51 AM  
Blogger Texas said...

Travis- G.Pyle here, i am ON the phone with J-Bigs, he said something about an e-mail? just wondering what was going on... I am going to be in California with j-bigs for a week starting on about the 19th, so if you get evacuated through LA let us know...


6:44 PM  
Blogger Askinstoo said...

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9:42 AM  

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