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...

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Aiub

It's a long story, so if you ever see me ask me about it, but it's a story about a man named Aiub. In some ways probably one of the Bangladeshis I spent the most time with. He was Erin's permanent rickshaw-wallah. He would pick her up in the morning and take her where she needed to go. Rickshaws are everywhere, but a lot foreigner, aka bidishis, esp women like to have permanent rickshaw drivers, so they can avoid the hassle of looking for others and there is an increased safety when traveling alone at night... Anyway, Erin took to this one guy... he's great... a real charmer... spoke English suprisingly well, real sarcastic, would always be singing. Erin would pay him a regular salary. At one point she even helped him buy his own rickshaw, which is very unusual, but wonderful for they guys, because they make on average 200 taka (about $3 US) per day, and 100 taka goes for the rental of rickshaw.

Its just strange how easily we can be involved with a sense of corruption, because at one point Aiub really got lazy and started drinking and smoking a lot... which i don't really blame him for because he had more money than he'd probably ever had... but he also started getting snobby and at one point stopped accepting Bangladeshis, because he thought they were too cheap...

Anyway, one day he invited us to his home for lunch. He lives in one of the tons of "slums" in Dhaka. It was a wonderful experience, very eye opening... made me feel very alive. They are slums set up by the government, tin shacks of sorts... some even have electricity. So when it comes to taxing these people the government obviously knows where they are... but when it comes to providing education for the children, water/sanitation, electricity, the government turns a blind eye to their existence... and because there are over 1 million NGOs in the country, the government feels like it can just be lazy and let the NGOs move in and do the type of basic services that they are supposed to be doing... I don't much about... complicated vicious cycles of corruption and greed.

But life in the slums seemed so normal in some ways... they were real people... and have just as many good days and bad days as we do... and are probably happy and sad just as much as we... there's a strange beauty in their more humbled simpler lives... but there's also so much we can take from their sense of community...







OK, this a contrast, but this is the gaudiest of amusement parks in the world, called Wonderland, right in the heart of Gulshan 2...



OK, now on to the slums... this Aiub right in front, lookin a little more angry than usual... i think he just wanted to pose as a bad ass...



No, UNICEF, you can't have rights to this photo...







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