Thursday, September 1, 2011

Eid Mubarak (Blessed Eid)

Well, the first few days in Bangladesh have gone by in a flash!  The first two days were spent running errands around town (buing food and clothes, putting minutes on Roslyn's mobile phone) and just generally getting our bearings.  Roslyn has spent quite a bit of time in Dhaka (the capitol city) before, so it didn't take long for her memory to be refreshed.  Dhaka is a very busy and interesting place - from what I can tell so far - but it seems we picked the perfect time to come.
Rickshaw + driver

Roslyn with her Diet Coke
We arrived at the end of Ramadan, which is the Islamic month of fasting that lasts for 29 or 30 days, depending on the moon and the lunar calander.  During this month, participating Muslims (those exempt are children, elderly, sick, or pregnant, to name a few, as well as travellers) refrain from eating or drinking anything while the sun is up (not even a drop of water is allowed).  We found that while some people were a little on edge (wouldn't you be, after 28 or so days of fasting???), mostly people were just not as active as usual.  This meant there weren't as many people on the roads or out at the stores (save for a couple of exceptions), and it was a good way to ease myself into the cultural experience.
Me on the first day

On Tuesday, however, Roslyn and I decided to venture out to Aarong, a department store of sorts, to look for some more clothes for me.  We walked in and were OVERWHELMED (well, probably me more than her).  It looked like the mall on Christmas Eve - TONS of people everywhere.  The reason for this was that the end of Ramadan is celebrated by Eid, a Muslim holiday when everyone spends time with their families, EATS, and gives gifts.  So, just like Christmas Eve, everyone was out on Eid eve, buying gifts and new Eid outfits.  It was quite the experience - at one point I actually turned to Roslyn and said, as calmly as possible, "Um...  I'm a little ... overwhelmed ... right now."  haha  But, I managed to find 2 new outfits (for a total of 3), so overall, the trip was a success.
My first outfit (salwar kameez)

At the park on Eid
Yesterday, then, was Eid.  All of the shops were closed, and most people in town were at home with their families.  Roslyn and I spent the day getting some work done at home, relaxing (jet lag has kicked us both in the butt), and enjoying the AC.  We also took a walk over to visit a new student that arrived in town the day before.  Luckily, he was up for company, so we sat and talked for a while.  He is a med student at Duke (maybe I can parlay this new friendship into some Duke basketball tickets in the future???  haha) and seems to be very nice.  It's great to have another student within walking distance of our apartment. 

My favorite new outfit!
My first impressions of Dhaka have been good.  Dhaka is much busier and more chaotic than anything I experienced in Taiwan, but I think living in Taiwan for a year has certainly helped cushion me from culture shock this time.  It will definitely take a while to get used to the clothes (long pants and a scarf are tough when the heat index is near 105 degrees) and the looks from men especially (although I got pretty used to being stared at in Taiwan, too) and it will take a while to catch on to the language, but I am really enjoying myself and looking forward to the next couple of months.
Some very excited girls made friends with us at the park  :)

1 comment:

  1. Congrats Katie! It looks like you're settling in pretty quickly. Good luck with learning the language (not that you'll need it:)
    PS Can you run in those clothes?:-)