We used to read books and spend time thinking in the long quiet hours of travel. No more!
Here’s Elias on the train luggage rack.
Elias monkeying with his Pappa as we waited to board the plane.
Look at all those big “vroom-vroom!”
Elias gets a ride
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All ready to go out and play ball, everyone!! Who is coming??
Here is Micah Jennings, Elias’ wrestling partner. They have only known each other for a few months, but they love to hug and smile at each other.
Elias’ Farfar, Paul, has arm exercises that he does daily to get over an injury. Elias watches every movement and copies it. One of them is to roll a ball on the wall. It’s funny, how kids are such copy cats.
Now after all that play, it’s time to sleep!!
This little tree was only up a day before the celebrations, but we did have a tree!
It was supposed to be a few -present Christmas, but then everyone splurged when it came to buying presents for Elias!
Legos, books, blocks, balls, clothes .. I think Elias was in shock.
Christmas dinner: potatoes, meatballs, and a wonderful salad.
Elias and Uncle Daniel reading a new book. This book was a hit: it had pictures of dogs and cats and birds.
Jacob finally got to go on a long-planned bike trip to a town named Puthia that is about an hour away. Puthia is full of old temples.
Though many people use bikes as a mode of transport here, a long bike ride is difficult. The little roads are unpaved and not on maps. And on the big road, (which is not very wide) buses act like they own the road and accidents are common.
A flat along the way . . so a van-gari helped tow Daniel to the nearest bike shop.
A old palace
Alot of the buildings had really ornate work on them.
One palace was in the middle of a pond. They called the palace -“home of the winds”. There was one little boat available to take people across, and it almost sank when four of them got on!
Daniel had sent us rennet a few months back, and we arranged with my friend Aru to get fresh milk from a good dairy that she knew. And with Daniel’s arrival, we were all set to try it out!
A bit of soy milk got accidentally added . . someone must have pulled another container of white liquid out of the frig after I took this picture! Daniel and Jacob heated the unpasteurized milk till it was warm, and then added some yogurt starter, and then an hour later a bit of rennet. The milk then sat all day, curdling. Then they strained out the whey (using a boiled diaper — a perfect cheesecloth!!)
The whey strained out all night.
Then Daniel and Jacob put together a contraption, consisting of part of a salad spinner and a heavy pressure cooker, to press the cheese together.
Then in the morning they put the feta cheese in a container with the brine — which is just some whey with ALOT of salt.
They boiled the whey the following day and let it sit. Then they strained that and got the ricotta out. Any ideas what to do with ricotta? It tastes quite good!
As for the feta, it is very very good. We figured it out, out of six liters of milk we got 2 pounds of feta. It cost 1.35 a pound to make, and the ricotta was just the bonus. Maybe we will do this again!
No pictures this time. But then, I am not sure if you want to see pictures — severed cows heads and bloody roads and all that!
Corbani was a rather quiet day for us. Outside the men were in their fancy punjabis, heading to the prayers with their prayer mats under their arms. Little children, all dressed up, came to pat their cows and goats farewell. And after the prayers, sacrifice began and the roads literally ran red. Men sat for hours cutting up the meat on wooden blocks, then portioning it off in piles on plastic sheets. The rich can afford a professional to come help — but everyone gets in and cuts and carries.
Then in the afternoon, the crowds of poor come. With Corbani meat, one third must go to the poor. After our landlord gave probably twenty people little bags of meat, the crowds kept coming. They rang the doorbell and shouted. But most of the poor do well on this Eid. They get up early and then walk all over town, going from one rich neighborhood to another, lugging heavier and heavier bags. Most of the poor then sell the meat that they have been given. The going price was 160 tk for a kg — which is a little more than a dollar a pound. There are many middle class people that can’t afford to have a share in a cow or goat, so they wait till later in the day and then just buy some meat that has been sacrificed that day.
In the afternoon, the ladies of the house get cooking the meat. The men take bags of meat to their relatives. Our neighbors came by with bags of meat for us. That’s a true sign of Bengali friendliness and generosity, as I have heard that in other countries, Muslims do not give sacrifice meat to non-Muslims ever. Not here!
I kind of wish that Corbani was not a dividing point between Christians and Muslims. The sacrifice is to commemorate Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son — which is an important faith story for all the People of the Book. The Christian response has been, “Our sacrifice has been given already.” But can’t we too remember? But I am not a historian or a theologian. Maybe there are other reasons . .
The second day of the Eid holiday the visiting begins. We went over to Auntie and Uncle’s place in the evening. Their courtyard is full of the winter flowers. Elias and Roja ran around while Jasmin rolled out perfect roti spheres and Auntie toasted them till they poofed. Then we sat in the kitchen and ate hot meat with the roti while swapping news. Good times.
When Jacob went to play football in the in the early morning, he passed a man tied to a telephone pole. The man was bruised, bloodied, and looked unconscious. A bystander said to Jacob, “Kick him!” Jacob asked what he had done and the answer was that the man had tried to steal telephone wire.
This is a sight that we see now and then, sometimes almost monthly. Sometimes the culprit is caught, tied up till morning, and then the neighborhood elders meet to beat him and tell him off.
Sometimes vigilante justice gets extreme. For example, if you are a bus driver and you get into an accident where people are injured, then the safest response is to just to jump out and run away. Crowds are quick to gather to throw bricks through the bus windows and beat up the driver, sometimes to death. They don’t spend the time figuring out exactly what happened and whose fault it really was.
It is hard to know what to think about this vigilante justice. In one respect, “justice” is swift and done by the neighborhood harmed. If police got involved, usually someone would give a bribe and the culprit would not be jailed. Here in this country, you can pay to put someone in prison and you can pay to get them out.
But those who usually are beaten up are the ones stealing small things to feed their family or their heroin addiction. The big culprits, who siphon off millions from the country’s economy through corruption, aren’t getting the whipping they deserve.
In the West, is the justice system much better? Hopefully the punishment fits the crime. but the rich also fare better as they can get better lawyers. It’s the force of your argument and how much time and money you have to waste appealing. The neighborhood has little say.
Justice is hard to give justly, isn’t it?
We had our Western friends over for a big Thanksgiving meal. Baked chicken, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and all!
We really suffer over here!!
A pumpkin pie made from fresh pumpkin and a homemade crust . . you can’t beat it!
Jacob did some brochures and a website for MAF Bangladesh. You can look at his great work at
http://www.mafbangladesh.org. So just this week their pilot told Jacob that he was flying to Dhaka from Rajshahi empty — would he like a ride? It worked out great as Jacob had the end-of-the-year calendars to hand off to the printers there in Dhaka.