Thursday, June 30, 2005

Minnesota in the summer, there’s nothing like it!

Of course, I’m saying that now, but catch me again in the dead of winter when my toes are blue. Seriously though, it is so gorgeous here! The trees are so green and bushy (not all tall and spiky like those weird palm trees in the Desh), and the cornfields are knee high. The sky is beautiful BLUE and we had such a wonderful little thunderstorm yesterday.

Why am I gushing about Minnesota? Because I miss Bangladesh! Wahhhh! I miss my morning walks to the Nari Jibon office. First, I’d greet the guard with a hearty “Assalam Alaikum” and then say “How are yah?” to the brick breakers on the side of the road. My elderly rickshawallah would be standing there, outside of the gate, hoping that he could take me to the office (a two minute walk) for a hefty “baksheesh”. I’d chat with him and refuse the ride, but give him a twenty taka note anyways. Isaac would run ahead and I’d say “Don’t fall in the open sewer, and don’t step in phlegm.” He’d slow down until I caught up. We’d round the corner and buy our morning papers…a New Age for me, a Daily Star and an Ittefaq (Bangla version) for the women at the office.
Ignoring the stares of the men at the newsstand, I’d walk ahead and buy a bunch of bananas – those small kind that are sweet and tart and sooooo good – and a whole bunch of them could be gotten for 20 taka (35 cents!) I’d pass the little medicine shop with the small doctor’s chamber in back, and round another corner where I’d greet the guy who ironed my clothes. He was always happy to see me, probably because I always gave him an extra tip to do the job that I so abhor.
We’d hop off the sidewalk at that point, because they were tearing down an old building and there was no room to walk for all of the piles of rubble. We’d pass the man selling fruit on the roadside…the pineapple was so ripe that I could smell it as I walked by. I’d ask him how much he was selling them for (80 taka) and then would send Khala down later, because I knew she could get it for the fair price of 30 taka apiece. She’d take it to her friend’s house who lived nearby and get it cut for me. When she brought it to me, I’d say, “Oh, you went to so much trouble for me!” and she’d reply, “Can’t a mother do something nice for her daughter? It’s no trouble!” And I knew that she meant it!
The best part of the walk was always the moment I opened the office door and everyone would turn and smile to greet me. I would immediately be offered some tea, and Isaac would be scooped up by someone (whom he would immediately command to massage his legs), and the day would begin.

In Bangladesh, I was very sincerely and very deeply APPRECIATED, and that is very hard to give up. While I’m sure I’m appreciated here, it is in a much more subtle and even inconspicuous manner. A career in the social services, especially in the developing world, is not financially rewarding but it sure does a lot for the ego. What bigger high is there than knowing that you have made a difference in someone’s life?
I think I better kick the job search into high gear, and while I’m at it, I’m going to have to start volunteering somewhere. It’s time to crawl out from under my rock and reengage with the world.

1 comment:

pem said...

Dude, I miss you. Wanna go shopping when you get here? That's always a good bonding experience. Maybe we can bring Megan too.
Fricken call me!