Week Ten

Returning from Thailand at the beginning of the week, I hit the ground running into a new work week; my second-to-last. Work on my report continued, and I again helped with a few things on the quarterly report.

Reading about the mob attacks in the newspaperWhile there was a planned protest a couple of weeks ago protesting higher natural-gas prices, activity has been mostly docile during my stay. However, that changed slightly this week when, because of out-of-control rumors, mobs began attacking random people they assumed to be child-kidnappers (I will spare you the details here, but if you’re interested in more information you may read about it here). None of these attacks were near me, but it was heartbreaking to see how a misunderstanding, really, a runaway rumor, could get so out of hand and result in lives lost.

There has also been an uptick in reported dengue cases (a mosquito-borne illness) over the past week, which has prompted the government to take swift action in combating the outbreak. The government assigned teams to evaluate and eradicate areas at the source of the infection - places with standing water, mostly in abandoned buildings or construction sites - and had them take actions to eradicate. However, even with the government's effort, each morning, I awoke to new, higher numbers of individuals infected. While not necessarily a fatal illness, dengue does take the lives of many, especially those in remote villages without proper access to medical care. Individuals in cities are no less at risk, as complications can cause severe bleeding and death. While somewhat unnerving, it is not something I can worry too much about. Instead, I take necessary precautions and try not to worry about it because I know I have done everything within my power. Dengue in the news

This week as I was reading a Bangladeshi newspaper, I was reminded of how small the world truly is. At the bottom of the page, I noticed a picture with information about a Bangladeshi man, a CEO of a business in Dhaka, who passed away in the United States. His services and funeral were where I live in North Carolina. It was so remarkable to be on the other side of the world in Dhaka, reading about a Bangladeshi man and Fayetteville, North Carolina in the local Bangladeshi newspaper. It was a great reminder to be kind to and love your neighbor, no matter where they come from or who they are. Our world is too small, and our days are too few for us waste time thinking the world is big enough that we don't have to worry about those around us.

Last week, I discovered I would be attending a meeting with the Bangladesh Women Judges Association for a conference commemorating World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. For this meeting, I will be wearing a saree, as that is the traditional dress for such an occasion. My colleague and friend, Zinat, offered to lend me a saree for the event. First, she sent me pictures and a video of the sarees she had at home, and I selected a few from those. She then brought my selections to work for us to decide which would be the best option. I couldn't decide which I like the best, so I let Zinat and Rezwana choose for me, and they selected a gorgeous green and gold saree. Borrowing the saree left me needing to find just a blouse and shoes to wear with it. I thought that sounded easy, but that was a task more complicated than anticipated.Trying on sarees at work

So, I ended my work week setting off in search of shoes and a blouse. Thursday after work, Rezwana and I went to a shopping center near my home. The shopping center had multiple levels with shop after shop of clothes (both traditional Bangladeshi and western), shoes, accessories, toys, and more. We wandered through the different levels, ducking into shops with sarees asking if they also sold blouses for under the sarees, most did not. After doing this about five or six times, we received directions to a shop that would have some options.

We stopped in the first shop, the girls measured me, and then searched for options in my size. Because most Bangladeshi women are relatively petite, and I am not, options in my size were minimal. The first top I tried I couldn't pull it on because it stopped once my arms were about two-thirds of the way in the sleeves. The next shop had options as well, and it fit, but the price was more than either of us thought we should have to spend on the item. We decided to temporarily suspend the search for the blouse and focus on finding shoes.

Street dogs napping near my houseStopping in multiple shoe stores, we would occasionally find an appropriate shoe for the occasion in a color that would work for the saree. Having found something we thought would work, we asked for my size, but every time they didn't have my size. It seemed most shops only carried shoes up to one size smaller than mine. This presented many amusing moments where shopkeepers would try and shove my foot into a shoe just slightly too small. Entertained and giggling to myself, I felt like one of the step-sisters from Cinderella trying on Cinderella's shoe, desperately willing it to fit. But, alas, we walked away from the shopping center empty-handed.

Rezwana and I made plans to see a few sites in Dhaka and attempt more shopping over the weekend, but she fell ill and had to cancel. However, I was able to tag along with two ladies I've had the pleasure of getting to know over the summer; my Airbnb host, Sonia, and my flatmate, Rasika. For this shopping trip, we traveled to a different shopping center than the one I had shopped with Rezwana. This shopping trip was more successful! We wandered around for a few minutes working to locate a shop that sold blouses for under sarees, and after a few referrals to the same shop, we visited. View from the shopping center

Initially, the shopkeeper pulled out some beautiful blouses with beading and embroidery, and then he asked what size we needed. Once we told him, he looked surprised (because it wasn't a typical size), put away the previously retrieved blouses, and extracted a few blouses in my size from the shelves. These blouses didn't have the beading or embroidery on them like the others, but they were pretty and appropriated for the occasion - and most importantly, my size. The price was less than the blouse Rezwana and I located previously, so I snatched it up, and then we were off to find shoes.

The shoe experience was much the same as before. However, we finally located a shop with multiple shoes in my size (shoes that didn't require the assistance of three people to shove my foot into)! Not only did I find a pair that would work for the event, but I also found another pair of cute sandals. Afterward, we rewarded ourselves with rest and great conversation over a cup of coffee at a bakery around the corner.

After-shopping coffee with Sonia and RasikaNext week is my final week in Bangladesh, and it is jam-packed! On the schedule for next week: a birthday party, the meeting for World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, and dinner at Zinat's house.