Map of Bangladesh

Map of Bangladesh
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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day


(The title of this blog is a little misleading.  The post begins with two sentences about Father's day and ends with one picture.  The middle is unrelated)

First of all, Happy Father's Day.  Apparently this holiday started in the U.S., but has spread to other countries, including Bangladesh- we celebrated a little yesterday and I got to talk to my family, including my dad.

Second, I must publicly correct my last post- I said my Nagymama was a parishioner at St Elizabeth Parish.  Whether I was connecting her with Hungary, confusing her church with my dad’s parents’ church (really St Elizabeth’s), or just experiencing a slip of the mind, her parish was called St Bernadette’s, which I should know like I know my own name.  I have walked to it many times, though not as many times as my mother to and from elementary school there, and have even prayed at the replica grotto, which should be a dead giveaway that is dedicated to Bernadette, not Elizabeth.  My apologies- I realized the mishap one morning in mass when my mind was just wandering, unable to listen to the Bangla sermon (and sure enough there was an email about it from my family too).

And now for something completely different… (but actually somewhat related because I thought of this while my mind was wandering during mass too)

I often think of those sleeping pill commercials on TV that show people “going through life on autopilot” and the commercials claim that the reason for this is lack of sleep.  They say that if you get a good night’s sleep you will live more fully and not be on autopilot.  I agree.  Any of my friends at school can testify that sleep is a priority in my life.  I’ve been known to climb up to my bunk at 11pm or midnight to sleep, while guys are in the room studying, drinking, playing board games, yelling about Mario Kart, or participating in a variety of other activities around me (not unlike my paternal grandfather).  A few of my friends have even borrowed “the sleep book” from me- it’s a book I read in Anthropology class freshman year of college that legitimately changed my life.  I have certainly found that sleep is helpful in living a full, alert, energetic life, but I realize now that I have put too much emphasis on sleep, to the neglect of vocation.

Here in Bangladesh I get as much sleep as I can possibly want.  We are free to go to bed anytime after dinner, which ends around 8:30 p.m. (and often we are in fact pretty quick to the pillow).  We do usually wake up in time for 6:30 mass, but that leaves 10 hours to snooze (assuming you manage to ignore the roosters, birds, lizards, and cows, which begin choir practice at 4:40 a.m. sharp).  We also have time for up to 2 hours of napping most afternoons, which we seldom take advantage of, but who needs to nap when you’re getting double digits of sleep at night? Somehow, after all that rest and relaxation I still find myself zoning out during long homilies at mass, closing my eyes on bumpy car rides, feeling sleepy at supper, and occasionally acting just plain lazy.

A few days ago I listed, in my journal, the times during the day when I feel most alive here.  They included teaching, planning for teaching, organizing trips or schedules, and playing sports/games.  These insights have been very helpful to me since then.  Even when I don’t quite feel like making a lesson plan or when some urge pushes me to say “no” when the students ask me to play soccer, I think back to the list and realize that choosing the easier path in those situations would be contrary to who I am.  Sometimes we have lazy instincts that mislead us, pulling us away from what we know is good for us and what we know we are meant for.

Ironically this week I will be doing almost none of those.  Instead I will be traveling halfway across the country to visit a few other Holy Cross sites.  First we’re going back to Dhaka, just out of necessity, but then up to Piragacha and Jaltratra (where the boxers stayed last year) and finally on to Mariamnagor where our two friends, Andre and Leo, are living for the majority of these eight weeks.  Who knows what our adventures will entail?

Sadly, we are saying good bye to two of our very good friends here in Srimangal.  Brother Marti (the “little communist” Marist brother) is going home to Spain, where he will attend World Youth Day and remain through August.  Father Michael is passing on the pastoral reigns here to Father Dominic, the singing, picture-taking priest.  Michael will be heading to the U.S., somewhere in Texas, to study more theology.  We hope to see him at Notre Dame sometime next year (maybe even during Bengal Bouts).

Jeff

just a really good piece of photography


playing a game called Mongshe Chor ("meat thief). Only girls play this game.
This was at Alia Chorra, the village where the primary student hostel is.  Kev and I go here every Thursday and Friday to teach and play.

Rules of Mongshe Chor:
There are two team.  One person at a time is sent from the "attacking team" to try to tag people out and steal the stone from the "defending team," but you can only use one breath of air and you must make a repetitive noise to prove that you are not out of breath.  If you run out of breath or grab the stone, the other team can tag you.  Also you cannot cross the line on which the stone lies.  Retrieving the stone is a point, but if you get everyone on the other team out you win the entire game because no one can defend the stone (infinite points). If the attacking player is tagged after his breath runs out or while he is holding the stone, the two teams switch sides.

(in this picture I am the attacking player, trying to tag people and get the stone)

It took us about an hour to learn all these rules since the girls could not speak English, and even now I am not entirely sure that I have them correct.


Catching mangoes.  People climb up the tree to precarious heights and shake the branches down into the net.


 
One of the mango climbers (Nerius by name).  Check out his neck- crawling with ants from the tree
cleaning hundreds of fish.  The boys sit on the hilt of a curved knife and use it to cut off the fins and tail of the fish. Then they cut open its stomach and pull out the guts.

Nerius again


some more guys eating raw fish! (just kidding)


my turn


pulling out the guts from the stomach- scrumptious!


A memorial of a nearby massacre during Bangladesh's Liberation War in 1971.  The memorial is in honor of the thousands of civilians who gave their lives for freedom and independence.


out at a small eatery, enjoying the local fare

a cup of seven-color tea (each layer tastes different and it takes about a half hour to prepare)

just in case you can't count to 7 on your own fingers, use mine

and this is 2-color tea. Unlike 7-color tea, it can be made in 4 seconds if you stick your finger in the cup and break the seals between the 7 layers

saying a blessing over a few village fathers on Father's day

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