Friday, 8 November 2013

November Thus Far

November has arrived and is now quickly disappearing from under me.  With all the events that are happening and have happened so far, I'm going to have to make this a "double post month".

Where do I start? Last week I had the privilege of being invited, along with the fellow teachers, to a Bangladeshi Muslim wedding.  On the morning of the event my flat-mate and friend packed our saris, that we borrowed the night before, and caught a rickshaw to one of my favourite places ... La Femme, a beauty palour.  When we arrived, we asked to be dressed, as we have no idea how to put on our own saris, and requested for our hair and make up to be done too. The La Femme ladies took us to a private room and immediately took care of us.  Before long we had an audience, other La Femme ladies curious at what these white foreigners were doing wearing saris.   60  minutes later our detailed and intricate hairstyles were finished, our makeup completed, which looked like something out of  an "America's Next Top Model" photo shoot, bold and colourful,  and we were wrapped, pinned and wearing glitzy saris.  Well done La Femme ladies.

The wedding itself was completely different to what I'm used to. Upon arrival we were greeted by a row of young girls with flowers who handed them to us, whilst all the guests had their mobile phones out and took photos of us, as we entered the celebration tent. It was like going to a Bollywood, e-grade movie, gone bad premier ... I loved it.   We were then lead to a table right up, clos and personal, next to the wedding seat/tent/bed thing (I obviously don't know the name of it yet but, it looks like a four poster bed, so we'll call it that). We were served three different savoury dishes;  a beef dish, a spicy chicken dish and a large dish of rice. Our meal was topped off with the sweetest and most delicious sweet rice dish I have ever tasted, very yummy!

The groom then arrived, most probably an hour after we had and was lead by his entire family to the four poster bed thing.  He is then asked to take off his shoes and sat at the far, back end of the bed, while the guests crowed around the posts and take as many photos as possible and throw flower petals at him.  An hour or two later his bride, dressed in red and in array of jewels, is led by her family to the four poster bed thing and the same thing happens again, all guests come around and take photos of the couple who sit cross legged at the one end of the bed.  Meanwhile, the bride's cousins steal the groom's shoes and hide them somewhere around the bride's house, when they are hidden, the groom's cousins have to find them.  Tradition says that the groom is not allowed to leave the four poster bed thing until his cousins find both pairs of shoes, this is to guarantee that he will stay and fulfill the marriage vows and not run away, fair enough.  There are no other traditions that we stayed long enough to see. I'm sure more traditional customs and easting went on throughout the night, while each wave of guest came through to take photos of the married or soon-to-be married couple.

The principal in the centre with his wife surrounded by me and fellow
teachers, who are now dear friends posing for a photo after the wedding.
Apart from the social event of the month, we have started preparation for our school Christmas production, named, 'Finding Grace'.  It's a sound scape, outdoor theatre, moving play. The audience will walk through the play, following the young Yr 7s and essentially be apart of the journey of "Finding Grace" with them. It's going to be amazing, I'm sure. The whole secondary student body are involved and each class has a part to play and their own scene.  I have been given the role to teach our Year 10 boys the Haka - The boys are amazing and have managed to get their tongues around the long words and the different sounds of the vowels. After our half an hour practice the boys and I are so pumped that it takes about 20 mins to calm ourselves down again  I've resorted to having a one minute silence with eyes closed just to continue with the seemingly more mundane class of ICT afterwards - I can't wait to see them in the final production, I'm becoming so proud of them. 

The reason why we have the Haka is that there is a scene called the tunnel of despair. My boys are suppose to scare the Yr 7s but, then allow the Yr 7s to continue their journey and peacefully find grace, with the audience following behind. 

While the hype of Christmas production has been happening, the government has been delaying setting an election date, as neither party (the only two parties that seem to have any power) have been changing their minds about when it should be.  This has been effecting and will effect our play and the education of  our students, as decisions made in politics effect the country almost immediately. It's completely different to what I expect from my own country. 

Because both parties keep changing their mind one party will become fed up with the other and will call, what I've come to understand are legal protests, hartels against the other party.  These hartels can be, and most of the time are very violent.  This effects everyone from the least of the people of Bangladesh to nationwide. The average Joe Blog may not even directly be effected by the violence, but the average Joe can't make money nor buy, because for safety reasons the stores must be closed; students can't go to school, because it's too dangerous to travel from certain areas in the city, and we, the teachers have to change and adapt our school programs in an instant, so each child can still cover the curriculum content.  For example, we can't have after school rehearsals if a hartel is called, as we don't send students home any later than 3pm on those days, which ripple effects onto other teachers having to juggle their subjects around or, students having to use up their lunch time to catch up with work.  When you teach in a place as unpredictable as Bangladesh you have to be ADAPTABLE, GRACIOUS and PLANNED. This should be the same for any teacher anywhere, but it seems to be more apparent in your minds-eye to be so here. 

Prayers:
  • Government resolve their petty issues so they can get on with elections and in turn country can get on with the rest of their lives
  • Our Christmas production goes well
  • And to throw something in that I haven't talked about yet, for the strength and energy of my fellow teachers.  It's report writing time, Christmas Production time, and hartels.
  • The preparation of Christmas holidays, is also another thing on people's lists, it really shouldn't be making them more stressed.

The Christmas holidays seem to be a bigger deal than I anticipated.  We only have three weeks,  during Christmas as appose to six that we get in the southern hemisphere, and most people haven't been home in a couple years.  So pray everyone has a refreshing holiday, whether it is here in Dhaka or back home with family.  As for me I won't be going home, but will explore a bit around Asia. I'm looking forward to experiencing a winter Christmas. Where that will be? I don't really know for sure.

I hope you enjoyed a little piece of the pie this time, I'll serve you up some more in the coming weeks.

Ciao for now!