Saturday, August 23, 2008

I'm a mosquito buffet

Last night I officially transformed from a mosquito snack bar to a full on, all options included, reduced price mosquito buffet. All of my defenses- all 5 of them- proved totally ineffective against some kind of terrifyingly resilient mosquito invader. These mosquitos somehow entered my home- despite that I only opened the door once and very quickly after nightfall and have mosquito netting over all of my wall-unit air-conditioners (defense #1). These nasty bugs didn't seem to mind that I have "the good knight" magic poison mushroom plug-ins that are suppose to create a nice mosquito-free zone. (defense #2) I had started my night pleasantly enough, falling into my bed and ignoring the mosquito netting (which I despise and try to avoid using since it prevents good airflow and is a pain to get in and out of.) Usually defense #1 and #2 are ample. But nasty burning itchy raised and irritated bumps on my face and neck jolted me out of my slumber. I had no choice but to wake up, turn on the light and start whapping all my bedding and surrounding areas/ air with my electrified racket which, when it comes into contact with a mosquito, provides a devilishly satisfyingly electrocution complete with sparks and the smell of roasting mosquito. (defense #3). After, verifying that my bed was mosquito free, I let down the mosquito netting (defense #4) and sprayed more toxic chemicals around the room (defense #5) and crawled back into bed. Unfortunately, a mosquito - or more- survived- triumphing against all efforts to exterminate it and provide myself with a restful night. It attacked repeatedly, causing puffy irritated bumps to raise out of my body in itchy protest to the involuntary blood donation. And when the dreaded mosquito pushed its needle nose straight into a vein or artery, the chemicals it put inside my body flowed along the cannel caused a raised dot and line- an exclamation mark of pain; a temporary tattoo of protest. I'd wake up in the night with evidence from recent attacks on my fingers, abdomen and back. I'd feel a light tickle on my check and give myself a sneaky but hardy smack in hopes of preventing further extraction of my blood and then start waving my electrified racket like a mad-women, only searching for a little reprieve from the mosquito war, the never-ending battles between woman and bug.

And now I plot further defense strategies for inevitable future attacks from an innumerable army- I could wear mosquito repellant to bed (defense #6). Ah ha! the beauty of calm daytime planning verses the crazed midnight defense conducted while under constant attack from a seemingly invisible army of invaders and blood thieves.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Yes, I have a personal driver

I am very happy to say that last Tuesday, after picking out CVs and interviewing 6 potential drivers (or, if you're feeling snobish, chauffeurs), my car-share buddy, K. and I hired a driver. His name is Mr. Azad. I am, and I'm sure Mr Azad is too, very glad that one more person in Bangladesh now has a job. (and a pretty decent one at that.)

When I talk to people (friends, family and the random I meet you on my travels) the fact that seems to most shock people is the fact that I have a driver. The idea that a woman (Morshida)

comes to my house 5 days a week to make me breakfast and pack my lunch, do my grocery and misc shopping, clean the entire place and do my laundry- in addition to some cooking (She made falafel today, which was just so wonderful)- seems to be wow, but not too big of a stretch of the imagination. But that I don't actually drive myself places, but sit nice and calmly in the back and just state my destination, with great door-to door service- well. That part of the story gets noticed.

Now, although I say "calmly" that is only with great effort, due to the large number of people shoving deformed limbs and starving babies up against the glass of the windows.

Not everyone has a driver here in Dhaka, but most expatriates do. And I have two solid reasons for why I hire a driver.

1) Bangladesh is a heavily populated country (half the population of the USA, in a space the size of Iowa. - and oh yeah, it floods.) And there are simply not enough jobs to go around. If I hire someone, that's one more person who can have the wonderful blessing of self esteem of being able to feed his (all drivers are male) family and earn an honest wage. I feel really good about that.

2) To drive in Bangladesh (and stay somewhat sane) you either have to be a professional driver and/ or completely devalue human life. Driving here is more like playing a video game, as you (and everyone else on the road- rickshaws, cyclists, CNGs (which are for all intents and purposes, a motorized rickshaw that looks like a green cage on wheels) cars, SUVs and crazy battered buses often with drugged up drivers) are jocking for that little space that just opened up. Just a little bit so you can advance before the next guy- and all this is done with just as much concern for human life that a 7 year old feels when s/he looses one "life" on a video game. And of course, we can't neglect the "magic hand" effect. Add to the mix a slew of pedestrians that think putting their hand out is an effect way to stop a rickshaw, CNG, car, SUV or bus coming at them at full speed as they casually meander across the road. Truly, magic if I've ever seen it. Seeing as I'm not willing to stress myself out or reduce human life to video game status, I'm very happy employing a professional who has driven in these conditions for 20+ years.

So, One more man from the mass of humanity in Bangladesh is happily employed and I will arrive safely and sanely at all my desired destinations.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

My mom really is a gypsy

Okay, I know I'm totally slacking on my one photo a week goal. Technical difficulties. However, for those of you who are wondering about the title of my blog a have a recent vignette for you.

About four weeks ago, while I was traveling in Israel, my mom emailed me saying that she was thinking about teaching in an International school. In two days, she had emailed me saying she had accepted a job in Shanghai. In three weeks she packed up everything, got all her paperwork in order and jumped on a plane to China. Now she has just completed her first week in China.

This is 'normal' for my mom. Really, up in moving to Bangladesh, with a year's notice to friends and family that I was looking to teach internationally and then a nice 7 months to get used to the idea of me being in Bangladesh is just plain slow and dull compared to mom's rapid fire life change plans.

Hence, I'm only the gypsy queen's daughter- not quite the original. But, hey, I'm okay with that.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Unloved Matzah

I might seem to be an odd time of year to be hunting for matzah- the dry, cracker-like unleavened bread that Jews eat during Passover. (which is generally in the springtime) But I had a list of items to buy this summer- the basic cannot be found in Bangladesh list. It read something like this:

* Matzah for Passover
* Havdalah candles (for the end of Shabbat separation ceremony)
* Chanukiah/ Menorah and candles for Chanukah (I got travel size- perfect for me!)
* Jewish literature
* funky tights and other accessories for Glitterball (more information in October)
* lots of really good chocolate
* lots of really good chocolate
* more chocolate

Sadly, I left Israel without Matzah (really, if it´s not Passover, it´s not in high demand. Surprising, I´m sure, but true.) However, when in Berlin with my Dad, I wandered into a toy store (I love toy stores) to find a Jewish literature and ritual items corner in the back- with one box of Matzah! So I happily bough the Matzah and put it into my fancy-spancy-folds-up-really-small-to-fit-in-your-purse shopping bag.

However, this was at the beginning of the day- which meant I was destined to carry the Matzah all day. At around 3pm I left the fancy bag with the matzah at a park bench, only to realize I was a bag short about 20 minutes later. Dad and I rushed back to the park bench to find my fancy bag gone and an open box ofmatzah, with a tiny corner of one matzah missing, under the park bench. Bag stolen, Matzah abandoned, open and unusable.

So, I guess this Passover I´m going to be eating lots of potatoes again. At least I have the makings for Matzah-ball soup.

Poor, unwanted matzah.