Monday, July 26, 2010

It was late, and as I hung around outside the Building waiting for a CNG to show, I knew I had been spotted. I had seen them as I came out, and it didn't take long for them to be behind me.

"Apu, taka please. We're so hungry."

It also didn't take long for Ruby and Mithu to understand I wasn't dealing out cash, and so their questions started.

"Where are you going?"
"My house."
"Where is your house?"
"Dhanmondi."
"Can we come with you?"
"Why?"
"To see your house!"
"Ha, I don't think that's possible."
"You want to come to our house?"
"Where is it?"
"Agargaon. It's nearby. Come?"

There were other questions, but I didn't understand them.

"You need rickshaw?"
"No, a CNG. Dhanmondi is too far away."

Solemn nods of agreement. Ruby asked if she could have my shawl. I said no, I only had one with me.

They waited with me, yelling and shouting at every CNG that passed. I felt sick to see them so close to the heavy speeding traffic, even though I knew from the feather dusters they carried that they could probably maneuver the traffic a lot better than I ever could. Still, it made me nervous and I ordered them to stand away.

A younger boy showed up, carrying a hot flask of tea. I asked the girls if they'd like a cup. Yes!! We went to sit by the curb, further away from the road. They continued to ask me questions I didn't understand, so I decided to take over the conversation to tell them about myself. One hand each on my lap, listening to me babble in my limited Bangla.

When I lit up a cigarette, both girls looked horrified.

"No! Very bad! Not good!"
"Why?"

The boy, who had been silent all this while, countered with a "It's good!" The girls shushed him.

"Cancer! Make you sick!"
I looked at the boy. "They're right, you know."

We finished the tea, and the boy didn't have change. I was going to let him earn an extra taka, but the girls would have none of it. They took out their own money, made change, and sent him on his way. We went back to look for a CNG.

Before they left me to my own devices, Ruby suddenly asked, "Would you take a photo of us?" She hugged Mithu close to her face, stroking the other girl's cheek. I wasn't carrying a camera, nor had I mentioned photography at all, so I guess this is something they ask everyone - but it was still rather poignant to me. We set a date for tomorrow.

"See you tomorrow!" yelled Ruby as she left.
"Inshallah."
"Inshallah!"

I thought about it on the way back, how the happiness I feel from these small, inconsequential conversations trumps all the good feelings I've ever felt from having someone praise my photos or having my work published. It's nice to think that sometimes it could really just be as simple as that.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

I walked for half an hour from my house to Neelket - last minute panic-induced attempt to sort out shit in my life - and realised I did a good thing cancelling that trek in Nepal because at some point my mother would've had to drag my exhausted body back down the mountain. I mean, she could do it. That woman runs marathons for fuck's sake.

I've been caught up in a wave of anticipatory nostalgia as the days tick off, trying to soak in the things I think I'll forget. Which, given my goldfish memory, is a pretty fucking long list. So I try to keep things in my head - like how, no matter how hard I try, I always end up stepping on someone's spit. It's everywhere. It's bound to happen.

And like how every road junction has the potential to become a clusterfuck of illogical driving - you stare at the mess of vehicles and the one helpless traffic policeman standing in the midst of it all looking slightly overwhelmed, and you just can't imagine how anything will move ever again. And sometimes, the rickshaw wallahs will start bitching - why can't that car just move oh my god they are idiots. Yesterday, my rickshaw wallah got off and went up to the car in front of us to inform the driver that this jam is all your fault, get the hell out of the way. I would've slapped him a high five but that is probably too much.

The guys at the book market tried selling me Lonely Planet's Bangladesh guide. I looked at them and threw up my hands in the air. Ami keno lagbe? I'm ekhane na? (Why would I need this? Am I not right here?) They laughed. New edition. Bangladesh! Come Bangladesh. Thanks dudes, I'm glad we understand each other.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Measure of Adaptability

The one day I get a CNG driver that actually seems to not have a death wish, I end up feeling extremely impatient in this very safe vehicle and wish that he would just speed the fuck up. I mean, three car lengths between you and the next car? Observing braking distance? How did you get your license?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Bangladesh Trumps Singapore: Reason #453 & #454
  • Very high chance that you will pet a goat before the end of the day (every day, any day).
  • The fastest way to avoid a traffic jam (and to die) is to switch to the opposite lane. Sure there's oncoming traffic, but at least you're moving.

Sunday, July 11, 2010




This image has been blogged and re-blogged to death, and I (obviously) love it even though I've seen it everywhere. Thanks to my current infantile addiction to exploring the archives of Nick Holmes' tumblr (the most attractive man I've ever slept with), I've finally discovered the artist is 27-year-old Sarolta Bán. Guess who else turns 27 this year? I am a talentless idiot.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

193 pages down, don't know how many more to go. My ass is now permanently glued to this chair, and my fingers just can't stop clicking on websites just so that I don't have to insert punctuation (a full stop is NOT OPTIONAL), correct very strange language and feel like I want to yell LEARN SOME ENGLISH FOR FUCKS' SAKE out of the window. That would be just wrong. Very wrong. Mustn't do that.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

aquariums and puppets

So there was a huge French house that I was lucky enough to lived in, even though I was a student and rightly belonged in a dormitory room somewhere. The second floor had a floor-to-ceiling aquarium running around its entire perimeter -- but the water was half-full and it was clear that the great white shark (and smaller tiger sharks?) were not faring too well. There was even a huge sea cucumber stuck on the wall that looked like it was drying out.

So I found the hose, and turned on the pipe and poured the water into the tank which filled up surprisingly quickly. Before I had the chance to see how the fishes were enjoying all the extra water, I noticed a painting/figure/doll of an old woman that was just settling onto the bottom of the tank - no doubt it had been moved around when the waters swirled in.

I stared hard at the wrinkly face and I just knew, that if I stared long enough, it would move. In all my worst nightmares and lengthy-imagination sessions - this always happens. And so her face moved, but I wasn't sure - maybe it was the water that was making her move - and so I tried again and again. And the face got more and more grotesque. I couldn't walk away - what if she followed me? I yelled for Sandrine. I whipped the curtains close around the tank to hide that face from my view.

Sandrine, who had been cooking in the kitchen, came running. What? What? She's alive, I said, trying to sound calm so as to not freak Sandrine out. I let my hands go, and the curtains came down, only now there wasn't an old woman - there was a wooden puppet in the shape of a little girl and she wasn't in the tank anymore. There wasn't any glass between us and her.

Ah. Oh. Sandrine and I stared hard. The little girl came alive, she looked human now, she stepped out and in front of us.

Sandrine tried to speak to her, but it didn't seem like she understood. Try speaking to her in French, I said. It worked (I'm very multilingual in dreams) and the girl said she used to be owned by a duchess, and it was a very long time ago. She didn't seem to realise that time had passed.

I vaguely thought of Harry Potter and how that movie had made talking paintings a lot less scary.

Are you angry I made faces at you just now? I asked. I don't remember her reply. Sandrine was pissed off by now - what the fucked had I dragged her into?



NO MORE AFTERNOON NAPS FOR YOU JESS.

Monday, July 05, 2010

commas

Was out for the count due to a viral fever that went on for too long (at least it wasn't dengoo), now rushing to finish what I couldn't do due to too much lying in bed incapacitated, currently technically unemployed for the first time in I guess a not-so-long time but still busy as fuck, missing roommate Maria who left for some lovely little island in Norway (enjoy the summer, while it lasts), slightly sad the espresso maker broke but will learn to cope, cat-sighting count at an ALL TIME HIGH and I can't help but think its a sign about something but not sure what, feel like I oughta learn the Robot & Robo, successfully stopped Mother from freaking out about monsoon in Nepal & India, still can't stop fantasising about a beach in Sri Lanka.