Saturday, May 16, 2009

Clearing out

Approximately four weeks (26 days/ 3 shabbats) to go. Logistics are taking over. My to-do list grows faster than I can scratch out (yes, I'm past nice calm tick marks that check off items- scratching them out to oblivion feels so much better) completed tasks. I've sold off many of my belongings, donated others to charity and still have some for sale. I've taken pictures of items that didn't make the Israel cut to post on the teacher's lounge at work (it's paper saving, tree hugging friendly electronic 'teacher's lounge').

For all my desire to be in Israel and start a new chapter in my life- a drastically different chapter- I'm amazed at my ability to still stay mentally present in Bangladesh. I think the overwhelming weight of things left to do keeps me anchored.

I've preemptively started missing my students. I have the urge to hug them at the beginning and end of each class- but that would put me in the same category as the creepy aunt that brings weird gifts and pinches your cheeks too hard- so I restrain myself.

Stickies cover my home and work computer with items that overflow from my to-do lists.

Every day after school seems to be stuff with multiple social, moving commitments and errands galore.

I've started packing. I'm waiting for the shipping company to drop off boxes so I can keep going. For a year, I've looked at every object in my home and mentally weighed its value to me. I've finally gotten to the point of acting on long formed thoughts. As my apartment empties it's like a giant purge. It's cleansing and therapeutic. I love the letting go. I love being able to let go. As much as I enjoy the comfort of physical things, I enjoy more the purge that reminds me that they are just that... things. It's a personal rejection of consumerism that has become pop culture- a consumerism to the point of consuming one's soul- the need to acquire that drives ambition and sometimes bends morality. It's a beautiful balance between appreciation of certain objects, comforts, with the recognition that life is so much more than creature comforts and status symbols. The purging takes on a spiritual tone.

Reminders of the fragility of life still surround. Out of our small staff, two members are currently in the hospital- one with appendicitis, another recovering from a stroke. A third member has finally made it back after a month dealing with heart issues. One day last month 20% of the teachers were out sick. And if illness is hitting us, the privileged and protected with balanced diets and clean water, imagine the 150 million Bangladeshis, most of whom are not so privileged. The hospitals were overflowing, in the most literal sense possible. With all the reminders sprouts a determination to really live, really experience, truly enjoy each moment, each interaction, each person. In a world full of unknowns, I find comfort in creating quality of life since I can find no guarantees for quantity.

At some point I imagined that I would post a weekly picture for life in Dhaka. It never really manifested itself that way. But I did take these pictures last month. To me they are so totally Dhaka- the masses and masses of bundled wires, the bamboo ladder reaching upward, leaning against the same wires the worker is fixing- so precariously positioned. The clear blue sky despite that pollution and amazing masses of green that push through an otherwise cement city. And just life as usually continuing on below.

Friday, May 1, 2009


Okay- the long promised photos- with captions! Just so you know, I whittled the 900+ photos down to 130 or so... which is still gobs... but hopefully a reasonable amount. ENJOY!