Blogs from Bangladesh, Asia - page 12

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Asia » Bangladesh » Barisal June 4th 2009

(Brought to you by my once lost and now returned camera charger) Finally, the video of our sea plane landing. It's a decent view of the landscape, but hold out for the end of the video, when you can see children from the nearest village running along the banks to see what has just landed in their river. The second video is a new favorite of mine, and gives a sense of that enchanted-forest type feeling that I sometimes talk about in Bhola. You half get the sense that one of the boys (carrying pots of fish on their heads) will sprout fairy wings and fly off in the middle of the video. Listen to it in a quiet room and you can hear the birds chirping and the hay being raked across the path. ... read more
Wading for fish
Boat dwellers
Boat to the government resettlement village

Asia » Bangladesh » Sylhet May 31st 2009

Biking Through the Tea Estates- 29/05/09 This morning I woke up thinking it would be a mellow day bike riding through the tea estates of Sylhet. However, I am quickly learning that nothing in Bangladesh is easy or relaxing. The bike shopkeeper was supposed to deliver fifteen bikes for the interns at 9 am to the Nirala Guesthouse. Of course, when we walked downstairs in the morning there was no one waiting. Two hours later, after much sweating and negotiation, we had fifteen shoddy bikes and a tour guide who neither spoke English nor knew the area. Heading out to Lowacherra National Park, we rode through lush forests, pineapple bushes, rubber plantations and beadle trees. Stopping at a little shop on the side of the road, I tried the infamous five layer tea. After finishing walking ... read more

Asia » Bangladesh » Barisal May 30th 2009

In a coincidental and tragic follow-up to two of the blogs I published recently, Cyclone AILA hit the southern coast of Bangladesh last week, washing out dozens of villages (like the ones I wrote about two weeks ago) and producing more climate refugees. I was actually due to go to Barisal on a launch boat the night that Aila hit, but the country has a good tracking system and I was told that there was a signal 7 storm coming. Anything beyond a signal 4 and Save the Children staff are not allowed to get on a launch boat; and with signal 7 being just one step below a cyclone, it seemed safe to stay at home. As the storm approached from the Bay of Bengal, the government and the NGOs waited and watched. From what ... read more

Asia » Bangladesh May 27th 2009

Social Business: Last week I traveled with three other interns to visit some of Grameen’s sister companies. We drove five hours to the conservative town of Bogra, stopping first at Grameen Danone. Professor Yunus recently published his book Creating a World Without Poverty about the project with Danone. Basically, the French yogurt company approached Yunus looking for a way to market their company as a global institution that cares about the world’s poor. Yunus proposed the idea of a social business, or a company whose main focus is helping others rather than making a profit. Some of the guidelines include investing all profits back into the business for improvement and expansion rather than solely to the benefit of the shareholders. I find this idea very appealing and so did Danone, for they agreed to sell their ... read more

Asia » Bangladesh May 25th 2009

I'm still waiting for the arrival of my digital camera charger, so in the meantime I've been digging through the archives of things I never shared. Here is a video I took on a boat crossing the Meghna river. The scene is full of fairly typical Bangladeshi things: women with varying degrees of head coverings, a beggar, crying babies, staring children (and adults). You can also see Hena (sitting in front of me to the right) and Parendi (with Hena's daughter Rahima on her lap). ... read more

Asia » Bangladesh » Barisal May 19th 2009

Today I caught a special on Al Jazeera's "101 East" program--a feature dedicated to investigating the issue of climate refugees and whether more developed nations have a responsibility to those who are displaced by the effects of climate change. The narrative follows a man from the southern coast of Bangladesh--a man who, like the people we met last week in Bhola, has lost everything he owned after his village was washed out. There is now a river where his house once stood. In light of my last blog and the week that Parendi and I spent tracking down "washed out villagers" I thought this was particularly good timing. The program asks some interesting questions, and also shows some footage from Bangladesh (both the coastal region, where villages are washing away every year, and from Dhaka, where ... read more

Asia » Bangladesh » Dhaka May 18th 2009

I was talking to one of the employees of Grameen over tea about how interns always seek information about the problems with the banking system. Before recognizing the successes, they immediately want to discuss the challenges. I explained that this was part of Western culture. We are taught in school to be critical of everything brought before us and to deconstruct all arguments. I also think it partly has to do with the egocentric notion of the East needing the West’s help. However, after attending my first borrower’s meeting in a rural village today, I realized that while Grameen may not be perfect, it has done a great deal to aid struggling women and the people in charge really care about each borrower individually. The village was located an hour and a half west of Dhaka ... read more

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 tripadvisor.com 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




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