Tuesday, October 13, 2009

full days

Very busy week and it's only Tuesday. Saturday I woke early again (that nasty 4am early), but I went to my water aerobics anyway. Only three people came since apparently there was a major glitter ball in Dhaka that most of the expat community went to. Even had I known about it, tickets are sold out last spring, so it's not really for the transient souls. So we mostly talked in the water and did a few laps.

I didn't make it to the rest of the conference (the movie and discussion) since by afternoon I was crawling. took a nap. We had odd electrical outages so the fan kept going on and off and I'd wake up and wonder what's going on. The generator in our apartment building is still not working quite right. So about 8 hours later, we seemed to be back on regular electricity. It is very surreal to use a laptop and the internet in a house lit by candles.

Our goofy landlord did not see the irony in sending out an electric bill by email that night when we had not had electricity for much of the day, and the building's internet service has been out for awhile.

Sunday -- back to school. Bangla class is low stress. I learn what I can. I understand more each day. It's also cultural information. One of the students, Aasta, talked about getting stopped by a police officer because the rickshaw was not supposed to be on the main road. She interpreted his "you don't know who I am" as letting her know who was in charge there, while our teacher said that he meant, "what do you think I am? I wouldn't kick you off a rickshaw late at night when you are all alone." Quite a different point of view.

Working hard at BRAC U to prepare classes and handouts and quizzes for a different student population. So many phrases in the readings are unclear to them and they don't ask. So it's only when I prompt or give a quiz that I get more of an idea about what's not coming through. Some of it is about the English, other issues are concepts that I suspect my students in MN would struggle with. For example, in the theory class, one author referred to "the Balkanization of literary theory" and they came up with a variety answers from the text surrounding the citation, but didn't know that it had to do with fragmentation.

The best misunderstanding though was one student who was convinced that he'd found a connection between William Carlos Williams' "The Last Words of My English Grandmother" and that WCW's grandmother was Emily Dickinson. Since Kelly Driscoll wrote an article about the maternal muse, this poem must be about Emily Dickinson. And he insisted, in class, that he had found this information and it was published so he was right. We talked about literary foremothers and traditions, but he only gave up when I said Emily Dickinson didn't have children, so most probably didn't have any grandchildren.

Sunday night Matan and I were invited to dinner at my dept chair's home. I understood that the professor with the 15-year-old son was coming as well, so I insisted that Matan come. A car was sent to fetch us. It took over an hour to get there. We arrive promptly at 8pm and are the only ones there until 9pm. Interesting discussion, beautiful home, fun to talk to her husband and son. Her son knew my friend Katya Azoulay's son at Grinnell. I knew Ron when he was in high school in Jerusalem. Then the vice-chancellor came and we talked of earthquakes (I didn't know before the weekend newspaper article that he was one of the country's experts). There have been 3 minor quakes since we got here. The other professor didn't bring his 15-year-old son.

More and more people came. The High Commissioner of India and his wife even recognized me -- we'd met already twice this week! (This pace is not going to continue). Most of the speakers from the conference came and a few other people I knew from other departments. Dinner was served at 10pm. Matan was getting nervous about tons of homework (end of the quarter and projects due in every class). We left at 11pm and fortunately it only took 15 minutes to get home. No traffic makes all the difference.

Monday classes. Lots of stress for Matan. He goes over to a friend's house to work on a project (they pick him up and return him). He gets up early today (5) to continue working on the projects.

Today. Hmmm. Work. Bangla class (Aasta got stopped twice by the police on the way to class today!). Got an email from the American Center that I have 2 packages waiting, but I couldn't go today since I leave early for water aerobics, so I write back that I'll come on Thursday. Less than 30 minutes later there is a small riot and bus burning down on the street and I'm so glad that I'm on the 13th floor looking at it from a safe perspective. Most people clear out of the way. Some folks get in on the window smashing. Apparently this used to be a more everyday occurrence, but since the election last December, it's pretty rare. Here's a link. From up above it looked less threatening.

And we went back to work. My ride insisted 4pm is my time and I wanted to get to the exercise class, so I walked and took two rickshaws (faster to leave them on one side of the major commercial circle that they can't cross anyway, and pick up another on the other side). Peaceful water aerobics. Lovely pool. Took another rickshaw to get some dinner (a take-off on Kentucky Fried Chicken) (brought some strips for Matan) and came back to his school to meet up with him.

Bruce Coville is speaking to the elementary kids tonight but I snuck in and got a picture of him signing books. The school brings an author for two weeks each year. The school is also gearing up for UN day on Thursday and I'm so pleased that they came up with an Israeli flag to represent Matan.

He was still at badminton (6 - 8pm) after wall-climbing (4:30 - 6pm) and from here we'll walk a couple of blocks to pick up the clean laundry and get a ride home from there. I think that's enough for today. Oh. I still have drafts to comment on.

long enough day.
I wish I'd gotten a picture of the guy with the flat basket the diameter of a bicycle wheel filled with live chickens on his head. I could say it's not every day I see that, but actually it is.

ps -- pictures didn't load, so I saved this as a draft. home now. When we picked up laundry there were 15 extra shirts and pants that if they fit, I should enjoy. WOW. what a day!

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