Monday, August 10, 2009

day two in Dhaka

well, it's 2am and I'm awake. hard to get that energy and sense of competence back when it's so undermined by a lack of sleep. yet I need to jump into some functions in order to get tired at the right times again.

today we started out very early -- walking at 7am, looking for a small grocery store. we had nothing in the fridge except water and peanut butter cups. too early for anything to be open, but we got sort of a feel for the neighborhood. found the lake that seems too rectangular to be natural. it has a walking path around it, clearly labeled "for residents of this neighborhood only" which surprised me. our neighborhood is gated with only several points of entry, but it seems to be full of people all the time. we found few people who understood English and only one couple at the end of our walk who could tell us that we'd have better luck around 9am.

we came back and waited. still haven't unpacked and sorted out much stuff. I guess Matan is going to take the air-conditioned room for now, so we could move clothes into the different rooms. meanwhile everything is in the small bedroom that will be a study? if I find that I need the air conditioning, I may move the small bed from the study in there, just to sleep some of the time. I'd prefer the room with the morning sun (not the air-conditioned one) anyway.

we went out around 9am and found our way to the major shopping area and continued walking in the direction of his school. we didn't walk far enough and turned around, too hungry to continue at that point. we headed back to the shopping area -- walking on pretty muddy streets -- with lots of people walking, taking rickshaws and cars. didn't see any buses on these narrow, yet major roads. found the atm -- seems like it was hidden behind posters for an atm -- but those were the doors to the machine. we took out about $30 just to see if our bankcard would work; not sure since it wasn't listed on the signs. it was fine. we bought food: rice, chicken breasts, oil, the kind of milk that doesn't have to be refrigerated, lots of stuff. packed it into a backpack and got into a rickshaw. explained to the driver where we needed to go, he got help from someone in understanding it, and set the price: 10 taka (about 15 cents). we were home quickly. talked to the manager of the apartment's dad about getting a ride for Matan to school tomorrow. there will be a rickshaw waiting at 8am (we hope).

I think we cooked some eggs and toast and I'm sure I fell asleep by 11am and slept until 1pm when I woke up to talk to Shaked on skype. groggy indeed since that was my deepest sleep in quite awhile. I seem to be doing that a few times a day and it's wearing me down. we messed around on the internet and didn't do much -- got an email from his school that our apartment is out of the range for the bus to pick him up and that I would have to be responsible for pick-up and drop-off. talked to my department head, so I know my phone works. could not meet with her on Sunday since I already have two things scheduled for then. so I'll probably go on Monday to the university.

we decided to go out again -- took a rickshaw this time to the shopping center and got there less exhausted (just the heat and the humidity, not the walking, though I must say between the 5 flights of stairs and lots of walking, I am getting lots of exercise). Matan watched me try to decide about a local garment (shalwar kameez) - the loose pants, tunic, and matching scarf. I found one I really liked but then understood that I would have to sew it myself. they probably just meant to take it to a tailor, but I didn't understand since they were talking about it being ready in a few days. I decided to wait this time. Matan did find 3 pairs of lighter weight pants at a nearby store and they will be shortened for him and ready in 2 days.

we explored the whole complex, found the pencil sharpener that he wanted (ok, not electrical, but mechanical and better than the little one he brought with him), and decided to eat. we were surprised that the menu at the little restaurant was identical to the one at our apartment -- I guess we know now where they're getting the food they said they could provide! prices are significantly lower if we go out ourselves.. we also went back to the grocery store and this time they had fresh milk so we got that and corn flakes. have to take out more money since it's not a good idea to pay with the VISA and deal with exchange rates (at least that's what I expect).
the rickshaw driver was not happy with 10 taka this time and we hadn't set the price in advance, which we'll know to do next time. still I told him that we'd taken that same route 2 other times yesterday, for that price, though I suspect he did not know any English, so it was not a good feeling in the end. he talked to our security guard for a few minutes, but the guard also knows very little English so I couldn't explain to him either. (later I thought about it -- not so much the price as not having much money on hand for the next day's outing to Matan's school. Also it was somewhat unnerving to feel like one gets a piece of knowledge -- the price -- and it can change so quickly).

that's about it. I fell asleep around 5pm. woke to an electrical outage - which was unusual since only one fan worked on the generator and no lights. we hadn't had any outages in the dark, so hadn't thought to set up candles and flashlights.

I did get back up by 7pm (another 2 hour deep sleep), but didn't have the energy to prepare food or even get organized for the next day. talked to people on skype. fell asleep. talked to people on skype. fell asleep.

hope I fall back asleep now at 3am. these nights make it really hard to remember that I will be able to handle most of the challenges. right now I don't' see how to even get to two meetings tomorrow, much less Kolkuta for a cello. or how to get to the University the next day, or what do I teach? sigh. sleep is probably the best thing I can do to get back that feeling that this will work out!

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