Today was a nice day -- I finally felt that I can feel a part of this country, not just on the outskirts. I've had a few tough days: insecure about my project, a tad lonely, frustrated with the new culture. My current contentment is part in due to the amazing, understanding friends and supportive family members who have talked me through it the past week. But today was all me.
Class is going well, I feel comfortable with trying and I am forming sentences in conversation (slowly, and frequently incorrect and backwards, but forming them nonetheless!) I like my teacher and my classmates, we make jokes and try to say random phrases: ekta din ami tomar dana katbo (I will cut your wings one day). My favourite Bangla word is chor, a temporary island. It made me laugh, because a temporary island can be a common occurrence. Like Eskimos have dozens of words for 'snow,' a word for a temporary island is needed because during the rainy season, a piece of land can annually be flooded into the river and disappear.
I study for two hours after class, attempting to perfect my Bangla with make-shift flash cards. At noon I eat with my teachers a simple lunch and hug my cook. On the main street to my house, I visit a dorkandar (shopkeeper) who presents a new Muslim blessing each time I visit as I purchase bottled water. The people on the street are becoming used to me: I'm not surprising anymore (and I think they've stared enough that they could perfectly sketch my image from memory.)
For dinner tonight, I took my french friends (Crystal, Leah and Maude) to my favourite restaurant where I am friends with the owners (who recently told me that they will cry when I leave Banani - 'amra kanna korbo!') I left my apartment at 8:15pm, the latest I've ever left. I've been out late but my friends' drivers take me home - it's not too safe to take a rickshaw or CNG at night. I won't lie, it took a little courage to put on my yellow and purple salwar kameez and venture out that night where there are no lampposts, only headlights and wax candles sitting on food stands. I love this dress because its color combination reminds me of my grandmother and my mother. The dress requires you wear an orna (one foreigner friend mockingly renamed it 'the boob scarf' because it's purpose is to hide your chest.) The orna is longer than the length of my arms and is drapped over my chest, over my shoulders and flows behind me.
Walking into the night at 30C, a slight breeze blew my orna back as my shadow drew my image in the shape of a superhero's cape. I laughed to myself winding through the hanging electrical wires and speeding cars to pick up the girls. As we stepped into Jagiur's Garden, one boy saw me and ran to the other boys to announce my arrival (Queen Sheba, anyone?) The owners all smiled and scolded me for not visiting the past week. The girls loved the food: saying it was better than restaurants in the bideshi (foreigner) area, Gulshan (there is apparently a Mexican restaurant that LP raves about, but I haven't heard good things. I can't imagine Bangladeshis making good guacamole, only Mexicans and CParks can make good guac.)
Tomorrow I have a meeting with a woman at the International Organization for Migration in hopes of collaborating, networking, using resources.. anything to get started on this project! My friend Darcy works there and is sitting in on the meeting too. The French girls and I might head down to the Hindu market in Old Dhaka to celebrate Krishna's Birthday (or at least, one of his ten births/rebirths.) This weekend, Darcy and I are exploring one of the many museums, one of my Bangla friends, Emy, wants to take me shopping, and I am having a girls night Saturday with Sayaka and Kyungai to watch Sex and the City with beers and some sort of Korean liquor.
It's finally becoming a home. I have a routine, friends, and my work is (slowly) progressing. Best of all -- it's almost the end of the rainy season so it'll start becoming cooler! But for now, I'm good in my quiet middle ground of satisfaction. I hope you're in a good place too :)