Sunday, October 4, 2009

catching up

Since I have an orientation at 9am, I told my Bangla class I wouldn't be there. Still, it feels like skipping class since I could have gone to the 8-8:50 half of the 8-10 class. Maybe if I'd had my homework done? (it's really hard -- all of those endings indicating nominative, accusative or genitive cases. ouch). So instead, I came to the meeting place an hour early, had some fruit salad and am taking advantage of the internet. Maybe if I hadn't done a marathon of rickshaws yesterday, I would have been up for bouncing around to make it to class and then racing back to the meeting, but my knees are saying no to the leaps in and out of rickshaws more than once an hour! I may be losing weight, but agile would still not be the word I'd use to describe me, and rickshaws demand a balanced, smooth leap into the seat.

Catching up on last week's neglected topics:

The maid -- I decided that I came here to teach and not to be at home accompanying her. Her whining helped push me into that position. So when she didn't show on Sunday and I did all of the wash, and she came on Monday when I wasn't interested in hanging out there, I said that I wouldn't be needing her anymore. (She doesn't understand English so the instructions to come on Sunday were in a note home the previous time and the discussion on the phone on Monday were with someone she found who spoke English). Then she called and hung up about a dozen times which I understand is meant for me, as the one who can afford the phone calls, to return the call to her so I'm paying for it. I didn't feel like playing along and didn't return the calls. Tuesday I'm at work and the calls start coming in again. This time I asked my officemate to talk, to reiterate that it's a matter of not wanting to hang out at home rather than go to work, and so it doesn't work for me to have a maid. He's talking to someone she's put on who can speak English! I think we've got it all straightened out and then on Wednesday the calls come in again. Over and over, hanging up after one ring. I'm really not into this. (She wants her cv and photograph back, that's all). I know, I can afford the 2 taka phone call and obviously if this much effort is being put into calling and hanging up, she can't. Nonetheless, I'm starting to get really annoyed. Left the cv with the guard and haven't had any more calls. Waved when I saw her from a rickshaw this weekend.

Risk analysis and parent meetings. When I signed up to be the parent coordinator for the 10th grade, it was mostly to meet with other parents and hear how they handle the teenage issues in Dhaka. The most challenging apparently are the weekend parties, out of school, held at clubs and restaurants, usually with alcohol from embassy connections. Not entirely illegal, but not quite appropriate either, at least not for 15-year-olds. Matan went once and was pretty appalled. He chose not to go this weekend. I wasn't sure about letting him go, who would be driving him home, what kinds of options would he have if he wanted to leave? He was staying with a friend who came with a driver and I had talked to the friend's mom. I'm really appreciating the sports coaches' pressure in MN to stay away from alcohol and missing the coaches and captains here.

So I tend to come home from these meetings pretty freaked out by the principal's talking about drugs, dangerous driving, prostitution -- what else do I need added to my worry list? Poor Matan, it takes about a week for me to calm down. One very wise friend said to listen to the people who live there. Our question is still the issue of night transportation. I mean, if I listen to my colleagues at work -- they're not taking rickshaws anywhere, nor are their kids. The Fulbright folks, the younger ones (just after college) rely heavily on them. The folks at the American school pretty much all have cars and drivers (provided by the school, I think. Maybe they have to share to get it heavily subsidized). Seems like lots of people use them to get to work and/or school, but I haven't sorted it all out yet. Nights are probably more risky, though we do have drivers we know whose phone numbers have been relayed by others. The risk, in my opinion, is less about mugging and more about driving without lights. I don't know how to evaluate this. My usual decision-making systems seem inadequate. So while I don't make a decision (to rent a car with a driver long-term), the default is that we have taken more rickshaw rides at night. Close by - like under 10 minutes to the American club, but not staying in after dark. And thus, a decision is being made. Not sure it's the right one.

I'll have to catch up about students and studying later.

And the bugs. Yes, bugs.

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