Monday, August 31, 2009


Yes, my birthday! I hovered around the internet and did get to talk on skype with a few people. Had some phone calls, while others emailed to say "what's wrong with your phone?" -- nothing, I think, just random service. Such is life.

Bangla class was good though I'm not very articulate. My office mate is waiting for me to say something in Bangla and he's taught it, so he'd be great to help me. I went in to work (thought I'd clarified to Nilofa not to come) since the dept head had called on Saturday to invite me to hear an MA defense and later a BA presentation. I was delighted to be included. Also got a lot of work done on the syllabus. The MA defense was about online communities, but limited in scope to social networking. Later we talked about the online work I've done and perhaps I could offer several workshops (or lectures) about online teaching to faculty. I think that would be excellent. Met the vice-rector with the dept head and met more faculty at each of the defenses.

On the way home I really wished I'd brought my camera. Usually it is tucked in my bag, but I forgot it yesterday. I was in a traffic jam that felt like a puzzle. All of the rickshaws and CNGs and cars and school busses were tightly jammed into the streets. No one could move. At intersections people would get out and try to direct traffic a bit, but there were only inches to play with. I was in a rickshaw so I was hearing all of the suggestions and commentary. It was also the first time I was really annoyed by a leering, nasty rickshaw driver who kept moving around where I was sitting. My driver finally told him to go away.

So it took nearly two hours to get home. It can be done in about 20 minutes, though to be fair, it does usually take more like 45 minutes. I stopped at the grocery store and loaded up: eggs, milk, water, bread, chicken breasts, and cookies. I really have no appetite -- too hot, too much outdoor time, too tired. Also I have to remember to eat before I leave the house since no one is eating at work these days (Ramadan). I suppose I could eat something, but it's not like having lunch at my desk as I was before.

I got home and was internet challenged again. This time my Century computer just gave up on the apartment's connection. The landlord kept insisting that everyone's computer was working except mine, until he came up to our apartment and as we walked up the stairs, people heard us and opened their doors with their laptops in hand to complain that the service was down again. By the time he got to the 5th floor, he understood that it wasn't just my computer. Good thing that Matan's is working. (My dept head said I should bring it in and the university IT will help me).

We didn't do much celebrating, but we'd had such a good weekend that I think it carried over to my birthday. I really just wanted a cello in our apartment and it's here.

And we met the new neighbors. When I wasn't home at 11am, Nilofa called to ask where I was. I told her at work and I thought she understood not to come. She calls back at 11:30, but with an American on the line. I had noticed that the name next door had changed to Ms Samantha, but hadn't met the new neighbors yet. Nilofa was probably surprised that it wasn't the LA family, but Samantha could help. She translated that I was at work, and not coming home, and would be there Tuesday. Ok, so that evening I invited them over - it's a young couple, she's here on a research grant for her dissertation and they have a 6-year-old who will be going to the French international school. Also by rickshaw, but with his dad accompanying him. Good to know them. She's been here two summers on previous grants, so she does know some Bangla.

One final note: the rickshaws in Dhaka are bicycle rickshaws. Maybe I didn't mention that. It didn't occur to me until I saw the people-running-rickshaws in India that you might be thinking that's what I'm riding in. Nope. Not sure I could do that. It's awkward enough for me to have someone biking me around. I usually opt for the CNGs as I prefer the motorized movement to someone working so hard.


  1. FWIW, bicycle pedicabs are pretty trendy in nyc and are driven mostly by strapping young white men. So, you probably don't have to feel too bad. (Ianqui)

  2. Happy (belated) birthday, Kris! The blog is wonderful, and I hope you find ways to continue as the year progresses.