Tuesday, June 22, 2010

home again, my friends

Indeed, we are in Minnesota.

The last week was crazy busy between the online classes, packing and saying goodbye. Did I mention the party the ambassador gave for all of the Fulbrighters, coming and going? A great opportunity to see the folks who were still in Dhaka. Then there was a Fulbright seminar at the American Center where the younger scholars presented their research.

And lunch with my officemate after the Fulbright seminar, and a different lunch with so many of my colleagues, at Cinnamon, of course.

I didn't take pictures at Tracey's sweet goodbye party, but this is one of us after the boys went to one of their proms.

Leaving was --- I don't know what to say, so maybe I'll just leave it at that. Landing was complicated by being very sick for a week at home, but now I'm easing back in to a previously familiar place. Not sure where I'm going from here, not back to the old blog and it doesn't seem right to continue notes from Dhaka when I'm just not there. I'll figure it out and find a forwarding address. cheers.

Monday, June 7, 2010

post #200 from Dhaka

that went by pretty quickly.

just some random thoughts about today.

news in Dhaka is all about the fire and the building that collapsed earlier in the week. feels like the whole city could sink into the ground water (which dropped several meters in the past year. not centimeters. meters).

hot. humid. sticky. but no rain today.

slow start to the day. woke up at 4:30 for no good reason. usually the call to prayers doesn't wake me anymore but I guess I was done sleeping.

somebody wanted pancakes for breakfast, before his last final exam. ok. some days are like that.

needed to get presents today. I really do not like to shop. so I did all the shopping in one day.

three stores, 2 CNGs, 2 rickshaws, 2 hours of traffic, one nasty accident where I heard the car hit the rickshaw and I saw the crumpled mess. somehow the people were ok.

too dehydrated to go to the last water aerobics class. sorry to miss the get together afterwards. but some days are like that.

online classes opened. one goof-up -- I wrote quizzes and saved them carefully in the question library. I opened quizzes with all the restrictions and dates and times, and forgot to add in the questions. fortunately someone tried the quizzes first thing in the morning (7pm here) and immediately told me that the syllabus quiz worked fine (not a new quiz) but the other one she tried had no questions. got that fixed. in spite of being in the dark, no electricity. there are always more outages when it's reallly hot.

lost my watch. I know it was between 4 and 5pm. apparently I look at my watch quite a bit. mostly I need it to remind me I've put the water on to boil or I'd completely forget to turn it off. I do 30 minutes of water boiling every morning.

that's about it. tomorrow I'll be at BRAC and say good-bye there. tomorrow night the new cello owner will come to pick it up. Wed the apartment gets cleaned and we'll do the walk through. Wed and Thursday I'll have a lot to do with my online classes with their first deadlines. Wed night we'll get together with friends. working on the packing a bit each day.

long day.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

June days

A pretty random walk through my last week or so...

The parent advisory committee at the American International School - Dhaka (AIS-D) for this year. I was one of the 10th grade parent reps even though I pretty much knew only one tenth grade student when I started. I learned a lot about parenting in Dhaka and what the issues in an international high school are. Met a lot of people that I wouldn't have known otherwise.

Took me a long time, but all of the laundry issues were eventually resolved, including ironing. Some folks in a little nook down the street iron our clean laundry and return it in tightly compressed packages.

Good-bye to the seniors. What a sense of community when there are kids from pre-K to 12th grade all in one place!

Fruits of the week: mangos, pineapple and lychee! Ok, 10 mangos in a milkshake are not good for one's tummy. And 200 lychees are too many to peel before they start to go bad.

And the best part of the last few weeks: having both of my kids here with me! Shaked and I did get to spend quite a few nice afternoons (in between the frequent downpours) at the pool.

And this is Matan before his second prom...

Now I have to figure out how to pack everything we want to take into 4 suitcases and not go too much over the very tight weight limit. By this time next week, we'll be in Chicago.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

a very long time ago

and it seems, in a remote universe, there were list-servs that seemed to function as today's social networking systems do. one of these was parent-l out of a university in Australia. I don't know when I joined that group, but it was sometime between 1991 and 1994 since I know I was not connected for Shaked's first year and I was when Matan was born. so this group of mamas (way before mama-blogging) was pretty much into attachment parenting and I found support there day and night. since I lived in Israel, it was truly helpful to find people in my time zone more or less. not everyone lived in north america. there are still traces -- we made a quilt for Bonnie who died in 1997, there were t-shirts and photo albums. but this week I was caught off guard since I hadn't really kept up with anyone from the group, to see that Katie Granju's son Henry died. reading through the comments there are, of course, many many people I don't know, but there are also traces: dawn h-s and petra and aimee and others.

not sure where I'm going with this. it was ironic that facebook was banned for now, but the earliest internet connections are still somehow viable. added to the sadness of Henry's death was that there was a second student suicide this week at Matan and Shaked's high school in MN. while they're currently somewhat cutoff from info, I'm hearing about it through the parent information emails that I get from the school.

main point: I need to hug those kids and talk to them and listen to them. I think I told Shaked every hour how glad I was to see her here with me. now she can picture where Matan and I have been and got a little bit of the experience.

we may not have spent as much time poolside as we thought we'd get, but I think her experience was incredibly rich for having the internship that she did. stressful, true, but she saw so much and was able to contribute to the project with the data she gathered on those site visits.

ok, I'll open a different post to catch up this week.

no Facebook connection

It's a very disconcerting feeling -- not to be able to link to an article in the NYT and share it with folks on Facebook (the article I wanted to share was Amos Oz's article on the Israeli raid on the flotilla). We're cut off from the outside world and from our friends here. The newspaper today says the Bangladeshi government office is waiting for a reply from Facebook to its request to remove offensive pages. Looks like this could be a long wait. It's certainly a learning experience.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

live-blogging, poolside

Have to capture some of the wonder! Sun, breeze, water, fruit bowl with pineapple and mango, cold coffee, wireless... jumping in the water occasionally. two online classes opened today, just for the students to have a look. class won't officially start until next Monday. waiting for Shaked to make her way here from a site visit that she didn't know was going to be on-her-own! so she texts for some directions...

low key day -- got the wash done and 22 pieces sent out to be ironed (for 88 taka, about $1.25). the kids are getting used to having t-shirts ironed. finished more quizzes for the new class. went to the commissary for the last purchases and closed out the account. will have to pick up the deposit check sometime next week. picked up some pants Shaked had shortened and found Bangladesh t-shirts, maybe for presents? Matan was debating getting a "I heart Dhaka" t-shirt. Maybe too late, they've been on sale at the school, but it might be done. The other t-shirts just say Bangladesh or spring celebration -- less of a commitment, I think.

Can't believe Shaked is leaving Friday night already. Or that we'll be in Chicago next Saturday night! Since we aren't planning to go out of town, it's actually pretty low stress. I'll start packing when Shaked's stuff is all out of the little room! Oh she just called for more directions. She should be here soon. Signing off.

Monday, May 31, 2010

closing down

The desk is cleared at work, but I'll probably return next week for a final good-bye. Just couldn't quite do it yesterday.

It's raining, just like when we arrived in August. No real reason to go out this morning. Have to work on packing, on writing quizzes for the online classes opening tomorrow. Shaked's site visit for today was cancelled. Matan went off to school on his bike in a raincoat and with plastic bags lining his knapsack. We'll meet him at school for a banquet tonight celebrating extra-curricular activity participation.

Feeling pretty cutoff about Facebook. Turns out that it's more about the current prime minister getting pissed off about cartoons about her government, than anything about Mohammad. I suspect she's just lost the young base in the country -- there were protests at the universities yesterday. So much for a liberal, modern, secular and digital Bangladesh!


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Facebook apparently banned in Bangladesh

Access disappeared last night so if you're used to seeing me there, that would be why I'm not showing up. Odd to me how I've gotten used to contacting and connecting with local folks on plans. No official word, but rumours on google have two leading causes -- one, the caricature contest with cartoons of the prophet Mohammad, and the other that a hacker was arrested recently (not sure how this would result in the national shutdown).

Very disturbing to feel cut off.

Other news -- mostly spending time with Shaked -- lots of it at the pool at the American club. Nice to just relax with her. Sometimes we even see a lot of the people that I'd like to be seeing before we leave! She has several site visits this week and a report to write before she leaves on Friday.

Matan is mostly involved with school at this point. His first exam starts today, but other than that one, they'll be starting Thurs and going through next Tues. I think he enjoyed prom very much.

I'm working on the Century courses. I think the new one is in good shape. Just quizzes to write now. Today I'm going in to finish clearing the office. Last week I was just too sick (yup, again), to complete the task. Finished the teaching and I think it went well. Put together some work on peer review that I'll be able to use in the future, esp as soon as I get back to regular access to a scanner.

Last night we were invited to my officemate's family's for dinner. Both of the kids came with me, though Matan had been sneezing all day and finally fell asleep there for most of the evening. The hospitality was awesome, the welcome really wonderful, the food fabulous. I would love to have spent more time there and really get to know his family. Shaked is going with his younger sister to a street theater production tonight. Yes, the transportation is difficult (I just got a cab for the evening -- it's what I said I would do occasionally when we didn't rent a car, but our earlier experiences with cabs pretty much put us off this option). Tonight his sister is going to come by CNG to pick Shaked up at our apartment and then accompany her to the park where the play is being performed. And then back again -- so she'll be spending hours on the road. Mabye Shaked will bring some pictures! Anyway, I was just so glad to meet them and be welcomed into their home.

Haven't really started packing yet, but got the suitcases out. Gave most of the books I brought to the English Dept library and most of the linens, etc, will just stay here. They're pretty much used up. Not sure what to do with the clothes I've outgrown -- don't really want to bring them all back!

Amanda wrote a great list on her blog about what she will miss. Maybe I need to start my list, too!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

filling in potholes

As I was going through the market by rickshaw...

Monday, May 24, 2010

bubbles and brainstorming

Ok, this I'm posting so I remember where to find it in the future. Working with students who were brainstorming to write about Mary Oliver poems. This site was fun for showing them how to have thesis, topics and evidence to support their claims. I think it will work well in my online composition class.

mantra in 11 words

from Penelope:

One thing at a time. Most important thing first. Start now.

(not endorsing the rest of her post, but crediting this part).

out of town

Shaked has gone to Jessore by bus. About 6-8 hours west towards Kalkuta. She called from a ferry on a river and when she got to the seminar hotel that is hosting them. I'm glad she's not travelling alone.

Wish I'd gotten out to see more of Bangladesh countryside. Yet trying to remember that most weeks I was not very energetic by the time we got to the weekend.

Finishing teaching this week. Last parent-advisory committee meeting today at Matan's school. Thinking about packing and stuff to leave behind.

Here's a good article on digital Bangladesh.

Friday, May 21, 2010

catching up

So far behind on the posting. Mother's Day -- lovely dinner at Tracey's house with other women from the American community and many teenaged kids! Flowers from the hostess to the guests!

Then there was a very, very hot week that I worked mostly at home since I wasn't feeling very well. By Wed, I went back to work at the office and was getting very excited about Shaked's arrival. We would go out to lunches as long as we weren't teaching...

(short elevator lines while students are still on break!)

Shaked arrived late last Friday night (no pictures!) and we had Saturday before her internship really started. Saturday, she wasn't ready to wake up and come to water aerobics at 8am...

She and Matan and I went to the American club for lunch, and some keeping her awake time, and then came back to the apartment. We went over a notebook I have of first impressions and information since she was really in shock about the heat, crowding, just the different place that Dhaka is! She found an introduction from a book I have, maybe I'll add it later.

However, in going over this notebook, we realized she needed to get a vaccination that Matan and I had before coming here. So that became the priority. The travellers' clinic wasn't doing vaccinations this week, so my public health guru, Tracey, recommended a doctor who took us Sunday morning and got her caught up. Later that day she had her first meeting with the people from the company where she's interning. They have prepared an intensive itinerary for her including meetings with IT folks from different NGOs, a visit to Jessore (a six hour bus ride from Dhaka), report writing and interviewing. She's really been immersed from the start!

(maybe even our 5 flights of stairs get a little overwhelming!)

I also started the summer semester of teaching here this week. New students, new classroom, but a familiar syllabus. It's kind of fun to hand out the assignment sheet for the first major essay and know that I'll be done with this two-week stint filling in for their regular teacher before the grading comes up! Also a chance to meet and connect names with a cohort of students I've seen around, but not ever taught. Two of my new students have already seen Shaked and me riding a rickshaw and waved and yelled "Is that your daughter?" because, of course, I told them she had just arrived!

At Dhaba, a restaurant on Road 11, Banani, where I love the fuska. Ok, I pretty much love fuska anyplace.

We ate at Sajna twice this week -- once I asked my embassy contact people, the ones who have taken care of me this year, Shaheen and Katie, to join us to meet Shaked. Didn't know that the department was planning the farewell luncheon for there later in the week!

Raining today which will make getting the laundry dry a challenge. Wouldn't matter much except that Shaked needs to take the clothes when she leaves tomorrow... Mangos on the roof. Must take pictures of the lychees.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


We're getting more ready to leave. I'm deep in the preps for classes that will be taking place in Minnesota, not in Bangladesh. Even though there is a little more than a month left in our stay here, I'm solving problems that will come up in June and July, and answering student emails from those future classes.

Next week, Shaked will be here! She still has a final and a paper, so she's not quite ready to think about packing up. She took her dorm room apart and sent the contents to a storage unit, so she's down to the suitcase and mr. bunny. She'll leave on Wed afternoon and it will take nearly 2 days to get here. She'll spend almost a day in Singapore on the way.

A Dhaka newspaper ran an article today on the Children's Literature conference. If you use a magnifying glass and know what I look like, you can see me in the picture.

Another link to an article on global warming and the threat in particular in Bangladesh.

Looking ahead -- I'll be teaching next week for two weeks as the new semester opens here. Hoping to travel with Shaked outside of Dhaka as I haven't seen much of the countryside. I suppose I should have taken each of those professor's business cards and called and visited and thus met far more people. I'm trying to go easy on myself and remember that many days were just exhausting to get to work by rickshaw and home again. Dealing with laundry and cooking and trying to pay attention to Matan's progress, as well. But now I do wish I'd done so much more.

Returning to MN as program chair in Women and Gender Studies -- it's official! Kind of exciting to think about what I'll need to learn and do.

Not sure what the summer will bring as we re-integrate. On the one hand, I do very much like this feeling of living outside the familiar, and yet, learning that I don't do it easily or push myself beyond a certain comfort zone.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

happy working on Century's online class prep

Working at home every other day or so. Get more done here at home - and bonus today - no construction noises from above. Would be happier not having a cold, but I can't have everything.

Juggling three syllabi. Two are pretty much ready to go and have run well before. The third is new to me and I'm trying to think about the best way to get this material online. Also trying to make it work out so that I'm not ever grading all 30 + 35 + 17 students' work the same week.

Then I might have a situation like in Dhaka -- today's headline was about the university cracking down on "laggard professors" who still haven't turned in grades seven months later. At Century there is currently debate about 24 hours being cut off of the grading deadline at the end of this spring semester. But it's down from 72 hours, not leaving much time for real evaluation of student work.

Looking forward to Shaked's arrival next week, so I have my own deadline for getting these classes prepared. Want to be free to spend as much time as we can together! She's going to be volunteering at an NGO and getting some micro-finance research experience out in the villages. Pretty exciting adventure, I think.

Monday, May 3, 2010

water, water

Starting to rain regularly here - every other day. So the heat is less, and the electricity is on more regularly. Here's hoping that the drinking water supplies improve, too. Our boiled-and-filtered water recently tested as contaminated and we're not sure what the next step is going to be. Maybe boiling and filtering bottled water?

Good article about ORS -- includes BRAC and ICDDR,B.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

spring in Dhaka

I almost skipped Bangla class on Sunday (maybe because I didn't have papers graded?), and then when I got there, to my surprise, there was a festive program set up exactly during my 9-10am timeslot!

Singing, music playing, poems, food -- an introduction of all of the current students, at least the morning ones. I admit I didn't learn to speak much Bangla, but HEED language center continues to show me aspects of living in Bangladesh that I might otherwise have missed out on.

Susan and Sultana

The spring celebration is connected to the new calendar year and also to the onset of the rains. So far, most of the downpours have been conveniently at night, and they really clean up the dusty air and streets. All of the trees look green again. So during this week's lessons I learned the words to the songs that had been sung at the Sunday program and then my teacher went over the facebook entries that were in Bangla -- some I understand, some I completely didn't get! Since I'm getting individual tutoring, I get to choose what I'd like to learn in the lessons!

Last weekend there was a festival at Matan's school with one of the service learning programs. All of the high school students contribute 20 hours (I think) to a project. Matan's has been tutoring English at an orphanage. The festival was put together by a group that works with street kids. Lots of paintings and crafts for sale at the school.

rotunda at the American International School - Dhaka

Finally, pictures of jackfruits. Haven't been here when they're ripe, but I think the time is coming soon. They are huge! Mango season now!

I've turned in grades for the spring semester and have a bit of a break now. I'm preparing the summer semester at BRAC for my TA who will be taking over as the teacher. She's on a medical leave until June 1, so I'll teach the first 2 weeks of that semester, May 15-30. In addition, in the next 2 weeks, I've got to get the Century summer classes posted. They're all online and will start June 6th. Shaked will be here from May 14 - June 4, so the more I get done before she arrives, the more free time I'll have with her!

Today is a low-key Saturday. Get the wash done and out to be ironed (this I will miss in MN!). Water aerobics and breakfast at the club. Later, Tracey and I are going to take our boys to the tailor to get suits made. Not sure if this is for prom or not, but Matan will need a black suit for orchestra next year in any case.

And last, but not least, the cello has found a new home in Dhaka.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

looking for the keys by the street light?

old joke about someone looking for keys by the street light. someone asks him where he lost the keys. well, maybe not by the street light, but at least there's light there.

so, bingo. I finally asked the right person about finding a home for the cello. I can ask for a month, but if it's the wrong people, uh, no takers. today at the pool, I asked someone who grew up here, who has many local friends, and she sent out a text to 10 people and before we left the pool, 3 people said yes. so now we'll have to figure out how to give the cello to one of them.

like asking about getting a new retainer. I kept asking people who recommended orthos in Bangkok and Singapore and we weren't going there. finally asked someone local, not ex-pat, and got an address down the street from Matan's school.

I guess it's healthy to keep learning not to look for the keys where you'd like them to be.


more short notes:

* I had been feeling well for nearly two weeks. Not so well this morning.

* nice evening at the club last night -- mostly teachers from Matan's school at a buffet at the pool.

* construction work continues at the apartment: building the 6th floor above us. This week: no hot water, no washing machine, and coming home to -- surprise, surprise -- pipes in the dining room, all the upper closets in Matan's room opened up (hmmm, maybe the bat was disturbed?), balcony screen door left open (hmmm, so let's invite the bats in?), back door left open. not happy here.

* cello saga - looks like we have answers from all of the shipping components. it's do-able. still wouldn't mind finding a home for it here and just letting it go.

* especially since Matan's orchestra teacher placed him in the lower orchestra. he didn't wait for the audition tape that he said Matan could send. discouraging to me. I guess it's a logical consequence and Matan seems more understanding of it than I am.

* bike/car accident last night -- no one hurt. cars and bikes, ok, too. I was two minutes behind him as I came home from the club by rickshaw. he'd passed me on his bike. and then, up ahead, the traffic jam was him, a car, and a crowd starting to form. we've been warned (many times) not to hang around, but just to get out of there in case of an accident. so Matan hit the car when the car stopped suddenly, and then as Matan was biking around the stopped car, the car hit him. yes. so that pissed Matan off. when I got there, I checked to see that Matan was ok, and told him to stop trying to get the driver to get out of the car, and go home. I talked to the driver who just said Matan hit him first. my rickshaw driver (who knows me and Matan) was telling me, driver is bad man, and basically, I should do what I told Matan to do: get out of there. you don't want the crowd to start deciding about some street justice. that driver had no reason to get out of the car, and in fact every reason to drive away as fast as he could. so I'm a bit shaky here.

* what else? grading, tax forms for Shaked's financial aid, syllabus for the summer at Century and now at BRAC, too.

think I should go back to bed and start this day over in a couple of hours. hope the construction people don't start ringing the doorbell.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

short notes

* sunrises have been beautiful lately. love my east window, even if it's 5:30am when the light streams in.

* will be teaching for 2 weeks in May since my colleague who is replacing me for one of the classes is very sick and on leave until June. not going to be full-time, just going in twice a week for 2 hours.

* we had a bat last night that got hit by the fan in the dining room. I thought it was a giant bug and sprayed it. poor thing limped to the kitchen and I pushed it out onto the balconey with the broom. it died in Matan's lunchbox which was full of water and bleach since it had come home with very very old banana in it.

* still no final decision on the cello shipping. after 20+ emails from Singapore Air we have a price and an agreement appended to Shaked's ticket LA-Dhaka. now we need an answer from our airline from Dhaka to Chicago. they've been promising an answer since last week. Case has to be sent from MN to LA very very soon, if it's going to go.

* If anyone in Dhaka wants a cello, please let me know! I've tried my contacts and haven't found any takers.

* Shaked will be here soon! Looking forward to showing her many sights, and discovering new things that I haven't had time for yet.

That's about all for today. Cheers!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

six weekends left in Bangladesh

that doesn't seem like much time left at all. better figure out everything I want to do -- while Shaked's here, before she gets here.

I think the last time I counted how many weeks were left, there were about 40. hmmmm.

Friday, April 23, 2010

cello cello

One of the more difficult aspects for me is the setback that cello playing has been for Matan. I think he's learned that music is a very social activity for him. This week we've been working on his re-enrollment (re-registration in the school district he's been in since first grade!). Tons of forms. I pleaded for mercy and got it reduced to 5 pages. But getting him back into the symphony orchestra is not simple. He will be auditioning from here in about two weeks. We'll upload a video or send it by email. His cello teacher here stopped coming in January. no notice. said we'd talk. never called back or answered emails. sigh. so Matan's progress has been limited.

In addition, we've had this nagging issue of what do we do with this cello now that we have it? When we bought it in India, we got a seat for it on the plane since that was a pretty inexpensive option for travel. That will not be true going to MN! We have a flight case in MN that, if all goes well, will be coming with Shaked in May. But that is not yet final. If I thought that we'd find someone to buy it or adopt it here, I'd be fine with leaving it here. But so far, no one's been interested (not even the teacher: he didn't respond to that email either). There have been moments when I thought we'll just take it carry-on and see how far we get with it, but after we couldn't even carry-on an umbrella in Nepal, I suspect the cello would stick out a bit more.

So I've been talking to the airlines. Our travel agent took the measurements of the case and came back to me and said, no, it can't go on a plane. what's a cello? (so how exactly did you investigate without knowing what this even is?!).

I went on directly to our airline (dang it, the electricity just went out and the laundry was almost done. now it will take another hour, at least. so much for getting up early and getting it done). The airline we're flying on from here took the measurements and said they'd get back to me. Didn't hear from them for 10 days so I called them back. They said, looks like you can take it on, no oversize fee if it's one of your 2 bags, just let me double check at one of the other locations it will have to pass through. Then he asked, by the way, how is it getting here? I said Singapore Air, and he said, so, how did they handle it?

Well, Singapore Air and I have been corresponding for awhile. first they said talk to the airport, but that's not really Shaked's priority in LA these days. So I kept emailing and they finally answered - what are the dimensions? I repeated the dimensions. The next day, will it have a cello in it? A curious question, I thought, but you know what, for that segment, no. The next day, what does it weigh? I write to MN and get a weight and send it on to them. No word today.

So the only answer we currently have is MN-LA by Fed Ex, around $50. LA-Dhaka -- still looking into it (probably just a oversize bag fee, if anything). Dhaka -- Chicago, here's hoping he was right yesterday and it's good to go. No fee. But since there was that one NO at the beginning, I have to have exact answers (with email letters printed out!) before we set the case in motion from MN. It's way too expensive to lose it at some random check-in clerk who decides it would not be ok today.

(as for the wash, the electricity is out again, but meanwhile the landlord's father said he needs the water supply for the construction work that's going on overhead. so not only did the load get stopped midway through [women's work, I can hear him...] but the pounding on the construction makes me want to be somewhere else all day. so I finished that load by hand, dang, it would have to be sheets and towels, and no wash for the next two days). such is life.

when classes are over

we teachers can go out to lunch at the same time. and so we did quite a few days this week!

of course, some of us went a little further afield, and didn't quite make it back after lunch. but I did grade. I love outdoor swimming pools. I admit, now that I'm done teaching, I intend to spend most of May at this pool. it's got wifi and I've got work to do online for classes that open in early June, so I think this will be perfect. not to mention cold drinks delivered to the table next to me. hmmmm. and it's less than a 10 minute rickshaw ride from our apartment.

I've invited my colleagues to join me, but there seem to be some cultural qualms - one asked me if there are men present (uh, yes) and another wondered if Bengalis would be allowed in (definitely yes). so maybe tomorrow Ruhksana will bring her daughter to swim and have lunch with me there before her daughter's French lesson nearby. Still haven't convinced anyone to bring a swimsuit to work and join me for a long lunch there on a school day. I suppose I'm a very bad influence.

Monday, April 19, 2010

track meet

His body has really changed shape and size this year. I'm so proud of him for trying out so many new things: volleyball, badminton, wall-climbing, track! As much as they are used to high school boys' bodies changing rapidly, I think his wrestling coaches are going to be taken aback when they see him in June!

playing hooky at the pool

when I feel great, I can do anything. I was falling asleep grading at school today, so I packed up and went to the pool. after a few laps, I continued with the grading. after a few more laps and lunch, I got even more grading done. I had the pool to myself from 1:30 until 4:30. amazing. even took a short nap. and brought home carrot cake for dessert tonight. a very nice day.

Friday, April 16, 2010

end of term: 301

Nine students in this Research Methodology class. Sabreena is the TA (she's sitting in the top picture). what a great class. I think that the response papers were key: but they did the readings, thought about the questions and we didn't have a lot of quizzes. Their papers are due this week and I think they'll be fine.

end of term: 201

We had 18 folks in this class (parallels the 1022 at Century) - a composition from literature class. The ones who did well in this class are really ready for 301 next term. We read Sandra Cisneros' The House on Mango Street, along with Anne Bradstreet's poetry, Mary Oliver's poetry, and short stories by Alice Walker and Hisaye Yamamoto. Very different from their primarily British focus.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Nepal, continued

Got back to Kathmandu, not only in time for the seder, but to have pizza on the way back to the hotel. And to get Matan some new running shoes. Not easy to find size 45. However, since he's on the track team this year (!), I think he should have good shoes.

sorry about the fuzzy pictures - you get the idea, we dressed up for the seder.

There were probably 700-800 people at the seder. The enthusiasm was high, while young trekkers were certainly the majority, there were lots of tourists, too, and the food was surprising (vegetables and fish and matzoh). We kept watching the kitchen to see if they were going to bring kneidelach... at our table - Gil, who was born in Israel but moved with her family to the US when she was 9. she did medical school in Beer Sheva and is now volunteering in Nepal for a month. Also a couple from Eilat who have been all over the world. Moved to Eilat in 1964 -- I can hardly imagine how many people would have been there then. And two guys from Nepal who knew the couple's son -- from when he had come to Nepal many years ago.

Next morning we got on the bus to Pokhara. This ride usually takes about 7 hours. Unfortunately there were some gas containers that needed to be reloaded on a truck (?) and the road was backed-up for hours with only one lane going through at a time. we sort of dozed in the sun on the bus. got to the breakfast stop at noon after being on the bus since 7am. the last time we did that bus ride, that stop came by 9am. Then the afternoon got darker and cloudier and it rained most of the rest of the way with a spectacular hail storm as we entered Pokhara at about 5pm.

We didn't seem to have much of a view from our hotel room, the lake was on the other side of the building. But in the morning, when I opened the curtains, there were the mountains. By the end of the week, I would just check at sunrise, without getting out of bed, to see if there was a good view!


Good food. This was probably the second night? I'm thinking spinach/mushroom lasagne. The first night we didn't take pictures, but the momos were too spicy to eat. We have pretty high spice tolerances, and we'd gotten cheese/potato ones, not something usually very spicy! We didn't want to leave a whole plate, so we took them with us.

The next day we rented motorbikes. Matan got one on his own for two days, while I rented one with a driver/guide for two hours. I did try driving it when we were way out of town, but I didn't get the hang of it enough to have fun with it.

So I saw waterfalls and a wedding (the red clothes). Went through a Tibetan refugee camp, but the carpet workshop was closed.

This is my guide.

We didn't go paragliding. The second picture isn't very clear, but there's a paragliding traffic jam up above!

Rice paddies.

This is our hotel from the side. Up above are all of the white towels hanging out to dry.

Didn't see much of this kid when he had the cycle. That's ok, he was really happy to be out on his own.

Views from just outside our room, on the balconey. Very nice part of the lake.

The last night we were in Pokhara, we went to a restaurant. Wish I'd taken a picture of that -- it was like parents' visiting day at summer camp. Of the four tables next to us, all were speaking in Hebrew. It looked like "mom and dad come to visit the kids who are out trekking and over break they could meet up in Nepal". There were two other tables in the restaurant that were not close enough to hear, but this was 20 out of 25 people in the place spoke Hebrew!

We left Pokhhara on Saturday, had an easy trip back to Kathmandu and an upgrade to a room with a bathtub waiting for us at the hotel. We went out with Rhoman who I met in Dhaka in Bangla classes. He is working with a mission in Nepal (and playing soccer) and occasionally going back and forth to Bangladesh.

Nepal nightlife. Closes down pretty early, actually.

The last morning I went to the "monkey" temple, not far from our hotel (about a half hour walk if you don't get lost, I took a cab since I was not feeling so great).

Take a deep breath!

I saw more dogs than monkeys, but I've heard there are many monkeys there and that they're pretty aggressive!

About midway up, looking up.

About midway up, looking down.

Mantras that get spun, one after another, as a prayer.

Very old statues.


And that was the end. Internet site said the flight wasn't going to leave until 5pm, but the airport insisted it was leaving as scheduled at 2pm. Get to the airport at noon and they say, no, no point in going in since there's no check-in now since the flight has been delayed. What, we're going to go back to the city? We kind of insist on going in to the airport, Matan finds some electricity for his computer science homework, and I keep reading A House for Mr. Biswas. Got to Dhaka by 6:30pm and to the apartment, unbelievably, by 7:30pm. The heat and humidity managed to surprise me.