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Published: February 7th 2014
Clothes at the local market.
Our first "real" weekend after a "real" week of work, and a really long one at that – I think we were all in the need of a few days outside of the office. The thing is, the sun goes down about an hour after we get off work, which means Rikke and I have to race against time to make it to the rooftop to soak up some sun before it sets. And even half an hour of overtime at the office is enough to steal away the only sunshine of the day. We were therefore excited to have two full days of sun and relaxation.
On Friday (which is the equivalent of Saturday), the boys went on a bike ride with a local guy from the office. I say ‘guy’ but it turns out he’s actually 40! Bangladeshis just look really young in general. Anyway, Rikke and I were left behind of obvious reasons – we don’t own bikes – and therefore decided to go check out the local market. It’s maybe 400 meters from the apartment so not a taxing walk. As usual, we wore clothes that covered both knees and shoulders; I had my hair up
and Rikke wore hers in a braid, and we wore shoes and had only a little makeup on. Fairly modest, I would say. But the stares we got from the men seemed to indicate otherwise. It’s funny, though, because the stares are not hungry – well, a few of them are but that’s to be expected – but not disproving either. It’s how I imagine zebras in the zoo feel like when children stare at them wide-eyed. Like we’re some exotic animal that they’ve only seen on TV, and then suddenly we are so close to them that they could stretch out a hand and touch if they wanted. I don’t even think we’ve seen the worst of it as Gulshan is one of the richest and most expat-filled areas in Dhaka. If we go to a local village outside of Dhaka with lots of men, I think it’d be worse. Not that the attention isn’t nice but when a guy comes over and asks for “just one picture” with his camera in hand, it's a little shocking.
So we were being stared at and the stall owners tried coaxing us into buying, and I was left wondering if
Using a bicycle as a clothing stall.
it was simply because we didn’t have the boys with us that day. But it didn’t bother me as much as it probably would have others. I just say a few phrases in Bangla and everyone is smiling. It doesn’t take much to gain their respect, and I really think it’s important to know a bit of the language when you’re living in another country.
The market was really cool with lots of color, clothes, fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, where there’s money, there are beggars. For some reason I don’t mind the kids as much because you can just ignore them for a while and they usually turn their attention to others. But the old ladies are hard-headed and it’s uncomfortable to ignore a grown woman who’s saying “please madam, so hungry” right next to you and follows you around until the other locals shoo her away. I don’t even feel pity, I get annoyed. Is that bad? It doesn’t help that I’ve been told that only people with money are let into Gulshan, which means beggars have the money to support themselves. And they just don’t take no for an answer and that somehow bothers me.
Not the most productive tailor.
we shook off the old lady after buying lunch (see picture below) and went deeper into the belly of the market. And that was where we found the goats. I kid you not, in the smack middle of all the shops and stalls were goats – like, real life, smelly goats. I don’t know what that was about but I took a picture to prove it.
We didn’t buy anything that day because it was a little intimidating and our first time there, but I have been craving water melon for a week now so it’s inevitable. You just have to be in the mood for haggling, it’s quite a game of back and forth.
On Sunday, I joined an ultimate Frisbee team in Dhaka (the only one I think), which I was very surprised even existed. Admitted, it’s at a pretty low level but there are a few Americans that have played before, and an Australian I think, so we got to play a higher level game to five at the end after all the newbies had left. I have only played for 2½ years but I am one of the more experienced ones – that should
Oh hi... goats?!
give you a good indication of the level and the number of turns in a simple game to seven. But people are so nice; it's an ultimate frisbee thing.
The four of us also managed to go to a party, which was boring, read in the sun on the rooftop, eat at a fancy but cheap restaurant, and enjoy each other’s company. And I felt ready to go to work on Sunday after gaining some vitamin D and having explored more of the area. I also accidentally gave a private concert to two gatekeepers when I sang out loud without noticing them. At least I got two thumbs up!
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