Blogs from Bangladesh, Asia - page 12


Asia » Bangladesh » Dhaka May 16th 2009

I really wanted a homestay experience in order to make the most of this trip, so I went to and posted a comment asking if anyone knew of how I could get in touch with a family. A man emailed me back telling me I could stay with his sister. I readily agreed but was nevertheless suspicious of this kind of offer. However, once I arrived in Dhaka and met up with the family, my doubts vanished about their authenticity. I am now staying in a little apartment on a street that ceases to exist on google maps. The father works in a knitting factory and speaks some English. He has a kind face and has lived in Bangladesh all his life. However, rarely do I have the opportunity to speak with him, for he ... read more

Asia » Bangladesh May 16th 2009

I am having trouble writing about what I saw today. I love the intensity and sharp contours of the Bangladeshi lifestyle but what I witness daily is also hard to process. Entering Old Dhaka, I stepped into a world where a man’s body is abused for a small cost and where forgetting who and where you are is not an option. The narrow streets are places in which man and steel fight for dominance. Rickshaws, taxis and pedestrians push ever more forward in the hopes of gaining a few more inches, while on the sidelines, narrow waisted men move melting soil and rows of tailors with small fingers make delicate stitches. Walking down to the river with my Indian friend, we hired a man who spoke some English to guide us on a small wooden boat. ... read more

Asia » Bangladesh » Barisal May 15th 2009

Parendi and I typically travel in middle class style to Barisal--we take an overnight launch from Dhaka's main port (Sadar Ghat), sleeping in a hired double cabin that usually comes with AC, sometimes has functional fans, and always has curtains to shut out the peering passengers and curious boys who work on the boat. The older of the boats have suspiciously stained sheets and families of cockroaches, but we've figured out which of the boats are the cleanest and have the least smelly bathrooms. We can't complain. It's safer and more comfortable than traveling on the roads, and its certainly better than traveling the way most do: on the bottom floor of the launch boats, stretched out on blankets, fighting off bugs and the night chill. But this week we upgraded. Instead of our usual overnight ... read more
Boarding the sea plane
Map of the delta
Sub pilot in training

Asia » Bangladesh » Dhaka May 15th 2009

Day 2 I watched as a bus smashed into the side of a rickshaw today. The first thought that crossed my mind was whether or not the man was harmed and then to how the driver would survive without his source of livelihood. It is disheartening to think that all of one’s possessions could be so easily destroyed. My Indian friend Daashan asked me earlier that day if I would like to take a rickshaw to the downtown area. I hesitated, explaining my discomfort in having someone peddle me around and explained that in America, this would be seen as a human rights violation. He appropriately reminded me that if I did not support this man’s business, essentially he would end up a beggar. This is also the attitude Grameen shares. Rather than giving loose change ... read more

Asia » Bangladesh » Dhaka » Dhaka May 13th 2009

The beginning of my trip to Bangladesh went smoothly. I first flew from Boston to London, where I sat next to a medical supplies salesman who elaborated about his adventures getting sick in India and dodging the aggressive traffic. Even so, his stories only increased my excitement and I read through the entire Lonely Planet book (a convenient 150 pages). The second leg of my journey caused some anxiety. Once the plane landed, I had 75 minutes to make my connecting flight to Delhi; however, by the time I used the bathroom, walked across the terminal and re-entered security, I had only 52 minutes left. When the clerk swiped my passport, she regretfully told me I was too late and that due to my failure to show up one hour before my flight, the portal ... read more

Asia » Bangladesh » Mymensingh May 5th 2009

One of my roommates (who has lived in Bangladesh for 2.5 years and thus has a broader range of experiences and reflections) just wrote a really good blog about mentions her study in Mymensingh (the peepoo bags), Hena (whom we all love and want to protect), and a community development project similar to the one I visited in Pabna (another incredible example of Bangladeshis devoting their entire life and resources to bettering their own communities). You should read it. It's really good. ... read more

Asia » Bangladesh » Dhaka » Dhaka May 3rd 2009

It’s been more than two weeks since the Bengali New Year on April 14th, making it not nearly as new or exciting as it would have been if I had managed to post something about it in a more timely manner. In the spirit of celebration, however, let’s just pretend. Put on something red and white (and throw in some yellow, if you’re more courageous), and imagine that you’re ringing in the new year with outdoor cultural programs, family visits, and lots of eating—all on a festival appropriate 100 degree day. We started our morning in an upper-middle class manner with our boss from Save the Children, Shahana Apa (because of her age and professional seniority to us she is always addressed publicly with “Apa,” which means older sister). After Shahana helped me re-tie my sari ... read more
Parendi and Shahana
Girls in fancy saris
Stilt man?

Asia » Bangladesh » Dhaka » Dhaka April 24th 2009

Blogger: jen We liked Sonargaon so much the first time we went that we decided to go again. It’s a nice change to get out of the hustle and bustle and over crowdedness of Dhaka for a little while. We felt like we needed to be somewhere, even just for a few hours, that had a feeling of space, nature, and serenity. So Sonargaon seemed like the place to go. This time we went in the dry season. We couldn’t believe how different the city looked and felt. The water levels of the ponds and streams were down (or some had even disappeared altogether), the trees seemed less green and buildings appeared a bit dustier and more worn down that just a few months before. The town had a kind of yellowed and sleepy feel to ... read more
old building/house
Sonargaon Mar7 009
jake chatting with a shop owner

Asia » Bangladesh » Mymensingh April 15th 2009

It is a broad assortment of things that we do out here in the name of development. Everything from a project to promote the production of dried fish to a classic microcredit program falls under the guise of international development, and the direct recipients of aid could be anyone from local government bodies to unborn babies. Pretty much anything that falls in that very inclusive net of criteria is happening here in Bangladesh, which has for decades been a testing ground for development research and practice.** What Parendi and I do (see blog from October or November 2008) is just a slice of the development picture. For newcomers on the development seen like us, one of the most valuable things about our year here has been the chance to observe and interact with development projects (and ... read more
University campus along the river

Asia » Bangladesh March 30th 2009

"There is a certain haphazardness to the way things happen in Bangladesh." A friend of mine who has been doing research here on and off for a few years knows the country well and in a sentence describes the way that life works in this country. For the most part life is simply not something you can plan or anticipate. Life in Bangladesh is not an inert concept but a force of its own--something that happens to you and seems to express its own mad logic and designs. In perfect illustration of this principle, a family friend showed up in Bangladesh in October to volunteer for a few weeks, having otherwise never set foot in a low income country. Bangladesh is not an easy place to suffer your introduction to urban third world poverty. The streets ... read more
Local color

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