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Published: November 6th 2010
Perhaps the greatest food of Bangladesh
This week has been such fun, full of interesting new discoveries and things to do.
Firstly, last Friday, i had myself a little tour of Chittagong from perhaps the most knowledgeable man in history. He drove me around all the sights of the city - taking in the War Cemetary, the old British Court House, the Old Town and even the Catholic Church. The man, Iqbal, just filled me in with so much information about the Raj and the War of Independence. It was such a fun few hours spent with him learning about the culture and history of this place.
On Sunday I discovered that Middle Class Bangladeshis celebrate Halloween to a far greater extent that I ever have... Friday night we have a party at the flat of some American girls from the Asian University for Women that have quickly become good friends here. I stole my outfit from little Isa, so dressed as Bob the Builder. Then, at school on Sunday, all the kids has decorated their classroom spectacularly, and dressed up in spooky gear for charity. Pretty crazy that it was so well celebrated here...
Then, later on in the week, i discovered something
One of the many throngs of children excited by the presence of white people.
amazing. I actually can direct theatre and get kids to do some really good work!! I've been working hard on the ADF, the school's annual drama festival, for about a month now. My role is to direct the Class 6 and 7 drama piece - based loosely around the Venice Carnival. I was pretty worried about doing it at first, but gradually i have got into it, and so have the kids. They are so wonderful and some of them are really very talented. I have even managed to choreoraphy a number of dances...we had our first run this Thursday and it went pretty well!
But perhaps the greatest day of discovery was yesterday. It began with a trip to a shopping complex with the American girls to get some food, that greatest of naughty treats Fuchka - little shells filled with delicious chickpea daal and salad all topped off with a sour yoghurt. It is incredible. We then went off for a little shopping trip and met up with a Bangladeshi friend. She took us back to her apartment, grabbed her keys and we got in her car to explore. Not only did we discover she didn't have
The Railway Offices
Built by the British to hosue their railway offices and generally take over the place
a licence... We went into the British City - where all of the railway offices used to be. It is a wooded and hilly area where lots of people go to hang out and have some shade. The trees were fantastic, huge and with amazing roots. As soon as we rocked up, kids who were playing football and cricket stopped to stare at us! One child came marching up to me with a cricket bat, which i gladly took, and joined in with their game for a little while!! It was amazing, one of my ambitions was to play cricket with the locals, and i'm so glad i got to. Of course, the staring and being followed by huge groups of kids was slightly disconcerting, but they were utterly delightful and lovely. One girl kept walking with me, and we both just fell about giggling at each other for no real reason other than we seemed to both be so happy!
Then it was time to move on to the Zia Memorial Museum. We emerged to find that foreigners were charged 15 times more than Bangladeshis to enter (at around a shocking 75p) and that cameras were only permitted
Zia Memoral Museum
A mock Tudor mansion as the setting for an assassination
on the outside... This museum was a commemoration of President Zia - a general in the War of Independence, as well as the man who read out the declaration of independence on the radio and became President of Bangladesh in 1975. The Museum was dedicated to his life, showing lots of images of the War, him as a military man and meetings with all kinds of foreign dignitaries. It was pretty amazing, and was in the old Charter House, which is where District Commissioners and other high-ranking officials would live or entertain. Interestingly, Zia was assassinated in this house, and the final part of the museum was the preserved staircase where he was shot - bullet holes and blood stains to boot. At times i felt like we white people became the tourist attraction rather than Zia, as kids and people kept staring at us, but it was a fun day out nonetheless.
Finally, my evening was taken over by a Diwali party with the family that took my to Cox's Bazaar, who are Indian Hindus. They are so welcoming and lovely, and it was a really nice party. Loads of teachers were there, which was fun, and there
An Exploding Floor...
Indoor fireworks - didn't bring the house down, but definitely ruined the floor
was a ridiculous amount of great food, lots of dancing and general merriment. We even had indoor fireworks, which were slightly terrifying, and sparklers. It was nice to be able to have some fireworks as, being November 5th, i really missed out on Bonfire Night. As everyone else went home, i stayed for a little while, and was treated to a Tabla session and to take some of the incredible food home with me.
All in all, this week has been incredible. I have really come to realise how much i love it here, and how many people i will miss when i go. Next week will be fun, but its the week after that im so looking forward to. On Friday, Bonny and I are planning a trip up to the north of the country, to Srimangal. It is here where Bangladesh grows all of its tea, and it will be a wonderful and relaxing break.
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