Now that he can crawl, the whole world is different!
. .. or at least think twice about where your clothes come from!
Hira is my age. She is now in the hospital with extremely swollen legs and malfunctioning kidneys. She used to work in a garment factory in Dhaka — but is in no condition to work anymore. Her boss had told her that there was an express order, and asked her to work for 22 hours a day, for 2 1/2 months straight. The wages are so low at the garment factories that the people like Hira feel like they have to work more, long hours, and if the bosses make demands on them, it’s either lose their job or work even harder. One day while working she looked down at her legs and noticed the gross swelling. She had to quit, and she used up her whole meager savings on getting medical treatment. The factory owes her two months salary, but is refusing to give it to her until she comes back.
“What happens to a person who does not sleep for 2 1/2 months?” This is the question Karin is asking the doctors. They just shake their heads.
Home is where the stories are. Home is where you speak the language. Home is where you know what people are thinking when they smile at you! My parents have only lived in Buntarik for a few years, but we lived close by when I was a teen. I used to come through Buntarik on my way to visit my friend Sumary. I would get on the public truck at 6:30 am and the truck would slowly beep beep it’s way to Buntarik. The sun would come up, and if there were no clouds, I’d see the mountains in Laos. Those slow rides during sunrise gave me lots of time to think — about Soomary and her fight with AIDS, about the fledgling church in the area, about the mushrooms and fish that I might be get to enjoy that day. So anyway, now, my parents live here! And I get to come ‘home’.
Elias got to meet some old friends.
There is a river a few houses behind our house. It’s the perfect place for a swim! Dad puts his flippers on and does laps daily. I’ve enjoyed going for a run and then having a swim to cool off.
Here is where my parents live. It’s a very nice house, with beautiful porches and a large yard. It’s owned by a lady who lives in New Zealand. What the picture doesn’t show is the bad paint job, the bad wiring, the bad plumbing, the many holes and crevices that all sorts of bugs and lizards sneak in!
We also got to go out on a boat with some friends. the more adventurous folk enjoyed diving right off the boat. We caught a pile of little fish and cooked them up for lunch too!
We are off to Thailand for a few weeks. I can’t wait to be home with family. Elias has been up to new mischief: scooting, falling, eating everything in sight .. what fun to be parents!
Here’s some recent pics.
We introduced the banana to Elias on Christmas Eve. He found it rather disturbing! But he did manage to open his mouth and swallow, which were the necessary steps to being an eater! Since then we have given him carrots. His FarMor gave him a beautiful silver spoon that Hanna and Daniel and Jacob used. His MaYigh gave him a food grinder. Big boy eating real food!
I was talking with a foreigner about what she did over the holidays, and in passing she made it clear that there was nothing to like about Bangladesh. I was so shocked about the comment that I didn’t say anything right then. But the wheels have been turning . ..
On the train we sat next to a man who has been in the US for seventeen years. We got to talking about comparing cultures. Masud agreed with us: there are good and bad things in both countries. He said that people are generous in the US — if there is some way to get a scholarship or some benefits, people will give you the benefit of the doubt. But in Bangladesh, if there is any way to keep someone else from getting something good, then they won’t get it.
People in the US are open and positive. For example, at the university that Masud was attending in the US, they were shutting down a certain department so the students wanted to put up posters in protest. But they had to get permission from the exact professor who had decided to shut down the department in the first place. To Masud’s surprise, the professor gave permission after checking that the posters weren’t vulgar. That’s America: free speech!
On the other side of the picture, Masud said that he had not made ONE SINGLE American friend in 17 years. And this man was nice to talk to, very knowledgeable, with lots of hobbies. Are Americans too busy making money to make friends? Or . . do Americans just want friends from their own culture?
While we were talking to Masud, I looked out of the train window and saw a coolie taking a break from carrying luggage. He was eating a cucumber with pepper on it and boy, was he enjoying his snack! A friend walked by and he gave half of his snack over to his friend. That’s Bangladesh! Whereas in the US, Masud’s coworkers would eat right in front of him and not offer him anything. Masud had to leave the room when they ate, because he found it so awkward that they would eat and not offer him anything.
Cultures: all different, all a mixture of good and bad. You want to come to Bangladesh and make lots of friends and get fed like kings?
Below is a picture of a friend that Elias made on the train. One good thing about this country: everyone, male and female, relative, friend .. . everyone shares the responsibility of taking care of children. The mothers get a break!
Santa has a bigger head than Elias!
John and Charlotte had Christmas eve lunch with us. It was a family-swap: Charlotte’s parents hosted Daniel and Hanna for Christmas Eve! We had a fancy lunch, which included one of Jacob’s awesome salads, and then we watched A Man For All Seasons. Then carols and cookies. A good Christmas.
Korbani Eid is the largest Muslim holiday. It commemorates Abraham’s near sacrifice of his son. During this holiday, everyone goes home for a few days. They exchange presents and eat lots of homemade cooking. On the big day, all the men do the prayers together. Even nominal Muslims who never pray otherwise go to this prayer. In the bigger towns, there might be one group of worshipers that welcomes women to join in.
After the prayers, the cows and goats are sacrificed. Seven families share a cow, or one family shares a goat. The rest of the day is spent cutting up the animals and cooking the meat, and for the next day or two people celebrate by visiting one another and eating meat and other special foods. One third of the meat goes to relatives and friends, one third goes to the poor, and one third for the family who offered it.