whoa…thats quite awhile. but it doesnt feel like a long time. just the other day i was sitting at the pool place, out of the stifling heat, having a marlboro, laughing and wasting away the hours. and then there i was, standing in the freezing cold, moody and dark like the weather and the night, with the cigarette burning away alongwith the time. now its back to some hell-hole of a place…and yet it does not feel quite foreboding or…alien. as much as i may not like it, it does not feel for even a short moment that it is beyond me to reach out and simply set it right.
the first two months were quite annoying. my uncle was onto me from day one and i did not mind telling him a few curt words now and then to remind him that i can speak…and quite well. then there were the roads…21 years crossing the roads looking out left first then right after i get halfway across. the first three weeks here were spent “oh the cars are going away from me” as i looked out left and crossed over…and then scampering back to safety as a bus conductor leans out and throws a few obscenities my way. thats fixed now, else i wouldnt be telling you this little detail. its hard getting along with people here. unimportant things just simply MUST be blown out of proportion by EVERYBODY. chill out…weather’s hot enough without any of you blowing steam at this rate. once while returning home, on a particularly muggy day, i managed to wedge a foot into an already tightly crammed bus with someone constantly pushing me from the back. i turn around and coolly ask him to stop as the bus is already full, then had to add some spice saying “common sense nai?” ever seen a dormant volcano start to rumble? no? neither did i…till that moment when the fellow swelled up his face and started sputtering “you will teach me about common sense?” i would have loved to…except the bus rolled away. no one here wants to learn or let others learn common sense =P. tragic.
what is also tragic…maybe even more so…is that this nation, who prides herself in her food…is so riddled with BAD food…you cannot take a whiff without your stomach complaining. everytime i step outside, i make sure i EAT and get out. its cuz i cant eat outside. no matter how hungry i am, i just cannot digest the tasty chicken fried in diesel oil. for those who can, ill bet i could make a million making a freak show outta them >.< “ladies and gentlemen…(drum rolls)…step up and watch the amazing cauldron make pulp of SCAFFOLDING!!!!” i ALMOST stopped eating sweets. atleast i avoid a particular company. just two days before eidul azha, i was itching to run out and get a whole lot of sweet stuff…when, on the evening news, i see ‘mobile courts’ fining a shop for preparing food in what looked like a scene right out off ‘resident evil’. the black splotches, the swarming flies, the gooey mess on the floor and dripping from the walls…the multicoloured hues?!?! the very next day my chacha had to run out and buy sweetened yoghurt from one of the branches of the SAME company. while he enjoyed it after dinner (and he says he has diabetes)…i held my stomach close to me…lest it jump out and scream at him for eating that stuff. but im somewhat back to normal now. normal as in turning into a freak like them. my stomach doesnt want to run away quite as often…but then again…i dont want to eat outside quite as often. i kinda miss being able to eat anywhere…in abudhabi. its a whole different story in places like canada or us…atleast for me. one place i love eating at…is home. atleast at the moment. chacha chachi are out of town…so its bhai bhabi and bhateeji. bhai is cool…bhabi cooks AMAZINGLY good…and bhateeji is too young to be a bother…at 10 months old, they only bother the mothers and play with everyone else.
at my uni…people love me…as long as i have my iPod shuffle (copyrighted) hanging and ready for their listening pleasure. ?????whats up with that?????? i finally had to stop loading songs they liked (lovey-dovey stuff) and load up not things very few would bear with (j-rock and metal anyone?). the whole country seems to function with the same “bees rush where the honey is” mindset. you have something even remotely of their liking or interest, you are hounded till the end of the world. you don’t have that something, you are equated to having zero value. so my value is…only what i have on me that interests them. a thought provoking point…particularly when you consider that if you have something on you of interest to robbers…you are in trouble my friend. speaking of robbers, RAB (the trigger happy physchopathological section of police) blew away a gang close to my home two days ago. looking at the images on tv, these guys know how to aim and fire…and keep firing!!! the blood splatter over the side of the yellow toyota corolla cab was straight out of some b-grade hindi movie…except that someone died in this scene. it should be that way. i mean, these RAB guys are picked out of the army. they spend eons firing at scarecrows and are simply itching to unload a few rounds into anything breathing and moving. so when they see the criminals…all hell breaks loose. but the criminal wont be missed. there are so many more of him to take his place…it is downright scary. now consider this, a supposedly conservative society churns out monsters and deviants at ever increasing rates and when someone points that out, they are…demonised!!! i honestly dont know what to make of it. maybe i should go ask one of the sociology lecturers here =P
i dont know why im sitting here updating ‘my space’. nothing better to do? yeah right, with the finals breathing fire up my backside, you’d think i gots better things to do. anyways…on with the story…
coming here i thought the ‘student-teacher’ relationship would be a lot more formal and stifling. it was not to be…as i found out…the hard way. sitting in the conference room, waiting for nothing in particular, sir and students were debating what to do where. i watched silently till someone piped up, “let’s go for sheesha.” and i was sold! (cheap bas****). but it’s ok…i really wanted to try the sheesha over here. so off we go…erm, baridhara? past the american embassy? then turn left and just up ahead is…atrium? i think i got the place right. well…nice ambience there. open place with a fountain bubbling there, subtle lighting…and mosquitoes on your toes. yeah…real nice. we placed our orders and waited…chatting away till it all came in. and then the food arrived. that was good food. and i mean really good. anyone comes here and asks me about a good place to eat at…i’ll say “atrium at baridhara.” anyways…the sheesha came soon afterwards. disappointing. very very much so. sheesha at abudhabi used to be something. a few good puffs and you would be swimming right there in your chair. i sat there pulling for two hours and nothing happened. absolutely nothing. well…one novice smoker who had never tried any ‘substance’ before did get whacked. and i mean really whacked. she had to be helped home >.< so i dont think it’s any good having ladies smoke sheesha…maybe except at home. hmm…an evening of sheesha with the faculty…quite a way to start off the semester. think this one through…im sitting at a computer doing some work…sir comes up behind me and goes “waris wanna go play pool with us?” umm…”sure?” “ok we’re leaving in 5mins.” and there i was playing pool with two seniors and sir. heck…all well and good.
one thing i noticed right away after coming here, there are no available girls in bangladesh ><. i shit you not. girls outnumber boys in bangladesh…yet everyone i run into turns out to be ‘hooked’ or something or the other. search me. i simply stopped bothering with that. got better things to blow cash on. like getting a good net connection to home. yeah…that is more important for me. especially for me. really miss the quickie downloads. over here…downloading at 5kBps is blazingly fast. and after the connection to SEAMEWE4 is completed, we get at most 5kBps more to that considering full load of 2 million users per second. yay? i really don’t know how it is all going to work out…but let us wait and watch and be optimistic about the future.
hmm…the uni wants to improve our english…so they lock us up in a prison at a place called savar. not really a prison, just an isolated facility the people built up to provide training for their workers. they want to teach us english…how about i give you some samples of their engilsh? dining rooms have rules, but few places actually trumpet the rules like this place. on the walls of the dining halls here, the rules are printed and put up to tickle everyone’s funny bone. here they are, ad verbatim,
1. be gentle in the dinning hall. [leave the rough stuff for the bedroom]
2. please maintain the queue.
3. always use fork, spoon or knife in the table. [well…i use my hands to eat AT a table]
4. don’t sit more than four in a table. [i guess the table is only big enough to fit four INSIDE it]
5. don’t move table to table with meals and that will observe strictly. [aaaah…no comment ><]
6. keep your voice low in the dinning hall. [i’d like to see our camp superintendant scream at us for talking loudly =D]
7. don’t make too much sound with spoon and fork while you are eating. [fair enough]
8. please take all the trashes after having your meal (including bone plate). [fish fishes deer deers and trashes is a verb]
9. don’t forget to take back your seats. [but i left my chair back in my room already!]
10. don’t try to smoke in the dinning hall. [or else…]
11. don’t forget to take your valuables. [carrying them around is a risk!]
12. don’t be late to dinning hall. [prisoners can’t be choosers]
13. no food will be provided after the bell. [just like no punches are thrown after the bell rings…almost always]
and a particular notice is put up there saying “don’t leave dirty plates and others on the table.” yes…i will take my friends off the table when i get up…as others are wont to do the same. finally, during a presentation, a FACULTY member spelt welcome as…”WELLCOME”. made me feel so warm and fuzzy inside being welcomed with two “l’s”. and they want to ‘improve’ our english by providing us with an environment that is immersed in english…bad english. dont really work do it? 😉
btw, noticed the repeatedly misspelt “dining”?
more bad english…a homeopathic doctor has put up a sign saying “homopathic treatment available”. man…this country has a major homophobic environment, breeding the most extreme of homopaths (like psychopaths). so the doctor is a much needed specialist in this country. =D
being in bangladesh means getting used to alot of things that run the opposite to what ou would expect to be the normal, correct course of action. like rickshaws going against the flow of traffic, police turning the other cheek to crimes committed in front of one cheek and people expecting you to be apologetic for what obviously would be their mistake and cars being right hand drives and not left hand drives >< i wonder how it all ended up like this…anyways…i was travelling to the uni campus from my home. we pass under a flyover en route there. stuck at the foot of the flyover due to a HUGE jam…looking out the window to my right and trying to wish the heat away. all of a sudden a small black cab rolls by from the left of my vision to my right. a second later, i twisted around and looked out the window down the road. the black cab was there!!! in case you don’t get it…the cab had rolled BACKWARDS down the flyover. at that too with some speed. i was just wondering what if some vehicle were to be going up the flyover at that moment? probably there’d be some fireworks and the population density would go down by 0.0001, then again…nothing would’ve happened since doing things the other way round is their speciality.
i dont think most people here have actually ever entered the slum areas of dhaka. not in all the years that they may have spent in dhaka. somehow, things like this have a habit of happening to me. just a few months in here and i get involved in a project which requires me to goto the slum areas to collect data. data on how they collect, store and use their water. easy huh? i mean, i just ask a few q’s and get it over with. WRONG. the hardest thing for the slum people to do is answer questions like “where do you collect your water from?” that is because they collect water from wherever it may be available, but i cannot write that down can i? not only that, the variety of people you see there is quite an eye-opener. many of them invited me to lunch while they were sitting down, others would offer me some water, while others wanted to learn what was the purpose of my study! probably the best i ran into had to be a family we met on the first day out. a faculty member, who happens to be running the project, took us out to give us some practical experience on collecting data. so there we were, trampling from slum to slum under the hot sun and collecting data as we went along. most of the houses were not much better than dirty little rooms where three snotty kids and two parents would cram themselves in. but this particular one seemed quite different. cleaner than the other homes we had entered, a little more polished on the inside, obvious signs of some wealth and the people inside would have very easily passed off for an upper middle class family. so…polished. particularly the young lady inside… -.- honestly, i had a purely human interest in those people. the aura and setup in that place was completely different from what you would normally expect in a ‘slum’. i still cant get it out of my head. the biggest lesson i got there probably was that money is not equal to class. irrespective of material wealth, even someone with just a torn cloth wrapped around them may be a better person than me by virtue of their character. a little humbling really…and sometimes even insulting. because then i realise that my education was for nothing if these people are better than me.
(to be continued…maybe i should switch to volume 2)