I am in a really good mood right now! Today started a little slow (really slow) but ended up being a really good day! We had to wake up early because our cleaning lady was coming at 7:30am. Apparently the landlord requires her to come and mop everyone’s floors every day, because every thing gets so dirty with the air but this 7:30am schedule we may try and adjust. We have baby cockroaches in our fridge and kitchen, so hopefully we can figure something out with those, too. I was in blissful ignorance about what they were (I thought they were just a random little bug or two) until Prabhat told me…as I’m sitting here debating having leftovers for dinner I’m questioning whether that's a good idea with the bugs…
Anyway, this morning, after getting up and awkwardly sitting around as she cleaned, I got to Skype with my parents, which was great. Then I hung out for a little and left for work around 10am. I don’t know if I was just more prepared for the attention or I got less, but it felt like an easier walk to the main road—less eyes on me. It was at an earlier time, so I maybe that means something. Ariadna told me that single women just don’t walk around here alone. I guess they get a bad reputation if they do and it’s frowned upon so single women move around in groups, while married women get around with their husbands. I guess I am supposed to be prepared to get asked where my husband is a lot.
Once I made it to the main road, I flagged down an auto easily enough, and he seemed to know where I was going like right as I told him, which was exciting. But..alas…it just couldn’t be that easy. We ended up on a very busy main road stuck in dead traffic. I knew it was wrong. I tried to explain that to him, and I think he sort of got we were going the wrong way, so he started speaking to an auto stuck in traffic next to us, and the passenger spoke English and asked me where I was going. She seemed to translate well enough. And after being stuck at a standstill (literally—at a dead stop) for about 30 minutes, we were able to turn around. But then, we ended up getting on an even bigger road, which I also knew was wrong. Ugh. This guy obviously didn’t understand what I was saying even though he kept nodding yes when I told him. He pulled off to ask ANOTHER auto where I was going. I tried to explain to that driver, “road 7, road 7, Banani, Banani” and he seemed to get it. Holding up 7 fingers seems to be a good trick to keep in mind. Finally THEY sent us in the right direction. I realized halfway through this nice hour-long auto that I hadn’t asked for a price. I panicked. I didn’t know if I should bring it up now, or just wait till the end and pay what needed to get paid. I went ahead and asked “Tk100?” At this point he still thought we were going god knows where down the highway, so he laughed and said Tk200. I said no but that is when he turned to talk to another one of the autos in traffic, so I just didn’t bring up the price again. Worst-case scenario I would pay Tk200, which is like $2.25—at least I would finally be at work. Eventually, after asking a few other autos along the way, we ended up at a house I didn’t recognize. He tried to tell me we were here. We were definitely not at the “here” I wanted to be at. He asked the guard and it turned out my building was just a few houses down. FINALLY, I had made it. Ugh, the stress it takes for me to just simply get to work. I am going to try rickshaws now, since they are cheaper and won’t go as far. So even if they start going in the wrong direction, I can’t end up on the highway or anything. I really need to walk to work one day with Kishan and Prabhat, so I learn the way. Blah. I’ll add it to my to-do list.
Work was good, especially as I’m starting to get into some of the work Ariadna is assigning me with the data. Muh-moon is always trying to bring us snacks and cake and tea, and lunch was chicken and rice, which was delicious. Ariadna told me we could go get some local clothes for me (which should help a little with the stares?) at 6pm, so at 6pm we left. We went to a store that apparently is local stuff but mostly for expats. It had some really great random knickknacks and stuff for around the house, as well as clothes. I also saw more westerners in that one store than I had seen in all of Dhaka so far.
We had a lot of fun trying to pick out things that weren’t SO weird or really ugly. The pants are wild. They are HUGE and billowy and then come in tighter at the ankles. I feel like Aladdin in them. They look so funny—I just got one pair that came in a set with a long, tunic-y top (I posted a picture below) and then got a more “normal” loose pair. I got a couple other tunic-y tops, as well, so I should be good for a little. I will probably need some more considering I brought like four shirts and two pairs of pants total, but I’ll figure it out. It’s nice because the store is RIGHT by my apartment. Also clothes are really cheap, even for a pricey store like this for expats. I feel slightly ridiculous in the clothes, but I guess it’s what everyone is wearing.
It started raining while we were there, and I had NO idea where I was, so Ariadna was nice and took a rickshaw to my house with me. Now I am just hanging out and will probably have leftovers for dinner. Prabhat and KIshan are JUST coming home from work now (it’s 8:30pm). I was shopping with my boss, and they are still at work…our projects and bosses are sort of different to say the least. To be fair, they are one week away from starting their intervention so they are at a much, much crazier point in their project. We are at more of a lull period with just cleaning data and starting to brainstorm and prepare for the next round of interventions.
Also some good news is that I will be able to stay at Ariadna’s for this weekend. I was so nervous about what I would do and I felt SO ridiculous asking, but Prabhat and Kishan are away this whole weekend in the field. I a) don’t feel comfortable staying in this apartment alone. Maybe at some point I will be (doubtful…) but especially in my first week I just can’t stomach it. I still feel nervous and uncomfortable doing anything like half the time. And b) I can’t get around alone (I don’t know where I'm going) and hate getting around alone (I get stared at and followed). So it will definitely be nice to spend some of my free time with other people this weekend who actually do know what they’re doing and how to get places. So hopefully it will be a fun weekend staying with her!
Also, Kishan and Prabhat were originally going to be gone a LOT for their project, but I guess the budget will only let them go this weekend and maybeee one other weekend, so phew. Like actually thank god. When they first told me they’d be gone all of the time, I almost freaked out but decided to just wait and see what happened, and thankfully I did, because it sounds like it won’t be a problem. And I get to go into the field one weekend, I think in a couple of weeks, so I’m really excited about that! Rural Bangladesh will be QUITE the experience—I think it is very, very different than Dhaka.