Upon arrival to Dhaka, I called up a professor at
The introduction into village life was fascinating and a bit rough, considering my body was feeling worse and worse. Still, many found great interest in me, and I in them as well. We were working in one particular homestead with three houses and a whole crew of rambunctious and really fun kids. Things happen slowly here. Lots and lots of talking. The carpenter crew didn’t show up. The wood took an extra day to get cut. Fortunately, the second day offered me a chance to rest under the palm trees with a gentle breeze flowing through. It was blazing in the sun, but very comfortable in the shade.
In many ways, it seems as if time is perpetually in slow motion. Electricity has not yet reached the households we were working with. They didn’t even have a toilet, or a latrine. It was open air. At night, we would ride the rickshaw back to where we were staying. The driver would hang a lantern from the bottom to cast a glimmer of light on the otherwise pitch black road. The stars, as always, were timeless and extraordinary. In the mornings, we would get breakfast at one of the little “restaurants” in the neighboring village. You walk in and it feels like the old west or something. Only men. The TV is blaring some cheesy Bollywood movie, but everyone seems transfixed. The naan is being cooked right in the back room over an open fire, and the smoke finds its way into the whole place. People are moving in slow motion. Their faces are worn. Their bodies ripped, every muscle exposed. It is a surreal scene. Life is hard, raw, and real here. Kids crap in the front yard. Bricks are hammered into small pieces to make road base. Everything is done by hand. The reality, though, is anything but slow motion. People age fast. A 20 year old looks 35. A 30 year old looks like he is 50. Time gets turned on its head.
Even walking around or traveling on the rickshaw, life almost seems in full motion. Until someone sees me. Then, it is as if everything stops. It is like I keep going in full speed, but everything else stops. People stop, they turn, they stare. Everything they are doing slows down, eating ice cream stops. The guy with 50 pounds of mud on his head stops and turns and stares. The girl walking to school is briefly interrupted by the dinging of the rickshaw bell. She stops, turns her head as the rickshaw passes, and then she smiles slowly. It is crazy. It is one of those movie scenes where you keep moving, but the rest of the world stops.
Riding down to village on the bus, I was sitting in the front seat. There was a family directly in front of me sitting on the cushion directly over the engine. There was a beautiful little girl. She started throwing up. Bad. Of course, the bus driver continued barreling down the road like he was driving a sportscar. I was waiting for it to flip, or at least have a head on collision. Somehow, the dance of the streets continues to work under some higher power. Anyway, she kept puking, and all they had were bags. I offered my seat, at least it had a back rest. After making a scene as the driver turned on all the interior lights, we switched seats. The guy in the seat across the aisle said,” You know there is really nothing you can do. It is a common problem with women and little girls: motion sickness.” I just kind of shook my head, hoping I didn’t just make a cultural taboo or cause an incident on the bus. Then, the husband turned and thanked me, and I remembered throwing up in
Yet, it was a clear indication of the status of women, especially in rural areas. I would almost not know there were even women around here. Most of
I guess they leave that up to the kids, because they are having a blast. Or at least seems like it. Everything is a game and fun. At one point, we were resting under the trees as the wind was blowing through. One of the boys, about 12 or 13 all of sudden made a windmill out of a palm leaf. It was crazy, and worked amazingly. And it was beautiful. So, why aren’t there real windmills everywhere here? Because they will get blown away by the cyclones.
Fortunately, they had a tube well. I am thankful for that. Even the women knew nothing of
The carpenters were a sight to see as they rolled in with their planers, saws, hammer, and chisels. It seemed most of the time, as least one of them was sharpening one of the above. All by hand, baby. And boy, that wood was crooked. The most crooked I had ever seen. I thought #2 SPF lumber in the
I am reminded of the importance of such quality homes upon my return to