So I’m jumping on the blog-bandwagon. I figured that for the next year while I’m out of the country in Bangladesh, instead of bothering people with a flood of impersonal mass emails, I would post it all in a one of these hip and trendy blog thingies, so that those interested could read about my life as they pleased. I have an affinity towards digression and half of what I write will probably be more like journal entries for myself to reread one day than anything else... but enjoy...

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Hashing

Friday and Saturday are considered the weekend here. It actually wasn’t until 3 weeks ago that the government declared a two day weekend. Up until then I think Bangladesh folk only got Friday off… but with frequent hartals (or city wide strikes by the opposing governmental party which forces the city to shut down), apparently it often seemed like they had at least a two day weekend.

Sort of spent day the doing stuff that I’d wanted to do for a while but hadn’t gotten around to, fixing up my resume, cleaning up my computer, etc.

Mika had told me about this thing called Hash, which I guess is an international running (and boozing) club/fraternity/cult. Apparently there are Hash clubs all over the US too, I had just never heard of it. In Dhaka, they meet 4pm every Saturday. (There is a men’s only Hash on Mondays… the ‘lower’ status of women in this country, i.e. their envisioned role of staying at home, is very apparent. In the fancy Paradise Garden Hotel that I stayed in, there was not a single woman working there… not at the front desk, at the restaurant, as maids… anywhere.)

It was pouring rain in the midafternoon, but I felt like a run would be good for me. I jogged over to the British club where they were meeting. I met Syed, who’s the man, who runs the show.

There was a really small turn out this week due to the inclement weather… only 10 or 15 people… usually there is a group of 50 or 60. Most are older than me. There was only one other girl who came… we jumped in the back of Syed’s truck with a few coolers full of booze and headed off. The place they run is always 30-40 minutes away from Dhaka, near the outskirts… all these places that most people would never else have a reason to go to.

By the time we got there, the rain had tapered. Actually met a girl who grew up in Yorktown Heights… small world I say.

Different countries have different rules, but basically there is ‘hare’ who sets the course earlier in the day. He set both running and walking course. In most countries they leave flour along the path, but being in Bangladesh they don’t want to do that. So instead they get tiny shreds of paper from the British Club. At some major juncture in the road, people have to check down both paths to see which one is the right one… if you find the bits of paper you yell ‘on on.’

R
ight… anyway… we went running through this tiny village, running along with goats, and cows and little kids. The day was rather gray and gloomy, but they said it was perfect weather because often it is unbearably hot. We ran through paddy fields out onto this bizarre huge open wasteland looking places. It was miles and miles of gray sand. What they are doing is just infilling naturally lowlying areas and lakes with tons of sand. Then they are just going to start building houses on top… it was an eery place, and in the distance you could see the burned out falling apart skyline of the outskirts of Dhaka… with the weather also be so gloomy it was a pefect setting for a U2 video.

Ran for a good hour. We’d stop every once in a while so all could catch up. Afterwards there was a bit of boozin’ and some silly song is chanted. Because I was a ‘virgin’ I got a free beer… I had to stand in the middle of the circle and when they got to the part in the song when everyone is saying ‘down down down down,’ I had to chug the beer, holding the cup in my left hand. If I couldn’t finish it, I had to pour it on my head… I had to drink the beer or wear it (hmmm… where have I heard that before?).

Rolled over to the British club for another round. Hmmm, I’m starting to sound like true ex-pat… pretty lame. But just been here a couple days and interested in meeting those that there are to meet. With membership to the American Club, apparently you get entrance to all the other international club – British, Australian, Dutch, etc. Hmmm, again not exactly the crowd I’d pictured hanging with, but at least good to meet some of these folk to figure out the city, social scene, housing/apartments, etc.

Went to dinner with Syed and Deborah, the medical nurse for all the Peace Corp Volunteers. It was a little bit mean, but 3 of us squeezed on one rickshaw.

The Colorful Rickshaw

Syed, Deborah, and I squeezed on a rickshaw

Today I set up some meetings with main contact at BUET, Dr. Muhammad Shah Alam Khan, and at CEGIS, Mr. Malik Fida A. Khan.

Checked out of the Paradise Garden Hotel and moved into the HEED Language Center Guesthouse. I’m going to start Bangla classes bright early tomorrow morning. 8-10am, 5 days a week, for 4 weeks… yikes… the vacation has officially come to a close…


Gulshan Central Mosque

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