On Saturday we joined the two Holy Cross Sisters in preparing, cooking, and eating dinner. I learned the hard way (with a stern look and cross words from Sr Shilpi) that there is a cultural tradition about meals. The guests may not clean the dishes under any circumstances. Cleaning the dishes implies that you don't want to come back. In some places, the hosts will not even eat until the guests have finished eating.
Peeling a jackfruit (the national fruit)-
many people mistakenly have taken me to be the namesake of this fruit
Like the facial hair? You're welcome for the close-up
Stirring onions and chili and cinnamon and vegetable oil and garlic paste- the base for Pilao Rice
We traveled to a local lake.
At the lake was a tree.
In the tree was a boy
We traveled to a local zoo.
In the zoo was a... porcupine? yes, if you look bottom left, not top right. and yes, they were in the same cage. I'm not sure whose idea that was.
and a vulture
and the national bird of the USA
and a bear, but seriously have you ever seen a wimpier bear?
Yea, you're right I was still scared because his paws easily fit through those bars!
and here's our monkey in his new home, playing with new friends
Our monkey buddy got a pretty bad lottery number when they were given out houses, but overall the mini, backyard-style zoo was pretty impressive
In a tea garden. (I realize this picture is unexpected considering the title of the blog- just trying to mix it up and keep you on your toes)
These tea gardens stretch for miles around the Srimangal area. They're quite beautiful, despite the substandard working conditions. We were lucky to visit this one on a beautiful day. Leaf-pickers, on the other hand, have to work five days a week in any weather and it can be pretty rough. For example, this morning it rained from 730am until 1230pm (5 hours without stopping!). The last few days, it hadn't rained, so it was getting to be horribly hot and humid. Even the local government high school was closed today for rain.
Between rain and weekly "hartals" (nationwide, Opposition Party strikes), it's no wonder this country is struggling economically and academically. The hartals are instrumental in preventing the country from being productive. Some government school kids hardly ever go to school. Even annual governmental exams (like the SAT's, ACT's, TerraNovas, etc...) are commonly delayed for days or weeks.
The only industries that are fully operative on hartal days, ironically, are big business like garment factories, tea gardens, and the internet companies, all of which are owned by foreigners. Funny that Bengali nationals are willing to call strikes that hurt the intra-national economy but help international companies.
signing off for today,