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.
Here we don’t have Dengue or Malaria, but these pesky creatures still give us trouble. Elias has three bites on his head right now. And my feet are spotted with red bites! We have screens on our windows but they find their way in somehow.
My Aunt Mary has produced her third CD, and this one is a beauty! It is a gospel CD with old hymns and spirituals. Mary recorded this CD in the spring, and we got the chance to do some background vocals. Singing with my family is one of my favorite things to do in life, and singing about Jesus is even better! We didn’t need to be convinced to help! Jacob also was able to be a part in the project as the graphic designer. On top of the sheer joy of being able to sing with Mary, she also gave us appreciation gifts and brought yummy food to the studio.
Mary’s website is: http://maryrocap.com/
The roof is like the Westerner’s garden — it’s the place to be! People hang their laundry on the roof. They keep potted plants and wood piles on the roof. They come to sit on the roof to clean and grind their lentils and chat with each other. When the weather is hot during the summer, people retreat to the roof when the power goes off. The night breeze cools us all off! During the winter, people come up to get some sun. In a place where women have to be mostly covered when they go out of their homes, the roof is one place where we can bare our heads and let our arms get some sun.
This is the view from our three-story apartment building. The road is usually busy with bicycles and motorcycles during the day. The buildings are a laundry shop, a music shop and a metal working shop. Behind the stores, you can see an old Hindu temple.