Saturday, March 31, 2012

Last Week in Bangladesh

My last week in Bangladesh has seemed like an eternity. Project is running in the field and doesn’t need my constant supervision. Passing on the reins of my baby to another field coordinator. Wrapping up in-field research. Drinking obsessive amounts of cha. And trying to pass the time so I can go home.

My mom told me to enjoy my last few moments in Bangladesh, to relish it, because I’ll be back and soon realize how good I had it. And I agree and understand that. But ma, that’s easier said than done.

We had an early birthday party for Muzi the day before she left. We cried when we hugged goodbye. I found an amazing woman and we shared so much. We used to joke that one day we would start our own NGO. It’s like fantasy akin to hoping someday to get married. I’ll let you know if it works out.
Rebecca and I have decided to make our last few days a littttle bit more interesting.

We spent our last weekend in Gaibandha so we could have a: WEEKEND OLYMPICS. Everything we did was made into a contest, recorded, and bet on. Card games, people’s reactions and hummus making turned into a cut throat competition. Augustine voted my hummus the best, but Rebecca has so far won all of the card games. It’s close. But it ain’t over until it’s over (tonight right before I leave the country is when one of us pays up.)

My last day in the office my co-workers had a going away “party” (more like a conference) where we all sat around a table, ate mishti (Bangladeshi sweets), drank cha, and everyone talked about why they admired and respected me. It was fantastic. I was given a bouquet of flowers and a heavy brass cup engraved with my name, Jiva, and the dates I was in Bangladesh. I said goodbye to everyone, EVERYONE, and walked home.

For one last time the kids on my block ran up to me screaming my name. This time I told them all “Asen! Apni amar bari jaben!” “Come! You all go to my house!” All of the 20 something kids (and some of their mothers) followed me like I was the pied piper into my small little house and saw the collage I made from all of their pictures. They pointed out their own pictures happily and then turned to me for presents. I was prepared and armed with a box of things I planned to leave behind to hand out. Gatorade packets, fun pencils, Swag blank journals I had collected at the conference, my flowers.

Little Mayisha, my favorite little girl, wrapped her little arms around me and kissed me on the cheek, and looked at me asking if I was coming back. When I said no, she kissed and hugged me again and ran away. I wanted to crumple her into a little ball and put her into my pocket for keeps.

Now we are in Dhaka. We are on a tumultuous tour of all of Dhaka’s hot spots to gather gifts for everyone. I have bought my sister more things than all of my family members (including myself). I am so excited about this. She is so easy to buy things for.

Hailing autos and rickshaws is a lot like fishing. You put your hand out into the deadly traffic, hoping to not get it bit off. There is only a small chance you’ll get something you want. You’ll get a rickshaw when you want an auto, and you’ll always get these creepy unmarked “taxis” offering to take you anywhere you want to go.

Last night we went to meet up with an ex pat we had met a month earlier. Rebecca and I have learned to walk extremely fast through certain parts of the city to help trail off the children who are following us asking for money. But last night we had jumped onto a rickshaw and rode it for a while before a little girl poked her head through the rickshaw back and between our heads asking for money. I screamed so loud. And then started laughing so hard. Which didn’t help because it only encouraged the girl hanging off our rickshaw to laugh back and stick her hand further into our seat.

And so now I’m in North End Coffee. Once last time. We’re going to Computer City to buy some bootleg computer software programs. Then we’ll eat some Bangla food one last time. And then head back to our hotel for some final games of poker to end our epic contest.

I leave at 1am to catch my 4am flight out of Bangladesh.

I’ll update one more time so stay posted.

Asalam Walaikum,

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