Counting Blessed Days

One of the favourite questions we get asked here is how long have you been in Bangladesh and do you like it here?
And we reply @Yes@ and they go really?!

To many it might sound like we are completely out of our minds (we are, yes of course, admitting it, not denying one bit, – it’s all in the whole -who we are and what we do -clause 😉

Well, re time etc, we’ve been here a few .. we’ve say oh just a while etc or something coz saying more than it is would involve more extra questions and we try to avoid that. 🙈🙉🙊

One thing we find here is that people are super inquisitive ..like really at times it feels almost like an interrogation 😂🔦

We sit and joke “Geez how many FB posts u think are out there are of us ?” from when we first came till now many many many people have come up and taken pictures with us especially on the beach. Be it a whole group, many times with each person in the group and also couples n families and their kids, we pose with them, we don’t really mind the photo taking.. . as Cox is a tourist spot anyways, people on holiday etc … but then you have the questions… ouff …

• where you come from?
• how long have you been here?
• how do you find Bangladesh?
• how long more are you going to be here?
• what?
• why?
• how?
• which hotel are you staying at?
• can you come for coffee, today , tomorrow, now?
• Do you have facebook?
• Do you have a calling card?
• Do you have Viber, whatsapp etc?
• what’s your contact number?
• how did you two meet?
• where are you going?
• what are you doing today, tomorrow what’s your plan?

Like Daily, steady & constant.

Oh it can get exhausting… Haha. Like some one unknown, randomly assail you with these barrage of questions… wish u could say ‘ erm none of your business?… ‘ and walk on.. right?

Again that said, we are generally nice and stay friendly but it does bring about certain problems like taking a photo (or hundred clicks later.. I’m exaggerating, ..not ) or giving your contact number, suddenly someone assumes that we’ve become bestest buddies and texts you non-stop, don’t care what time it was, be it night or day.
We’ve had round the clock messaging, calls, as early as before the sun’s up till wayyyyyy past midnight like 2 and 3AM.
There’s no getting out of handing your number coz they’d make you dial on the spot n give them a missed call or something… and that entails an add on VIBER, whatsapp, Tango… eishhhh… ☎️📱📡📡⏰ 🙇💆

And then to top that off, you meet someone, be nice n cordial, they give you their FB ID and tells you to add them etc (I’m cautious whom I add anyways and of course it’s your personal right to add or not to add right?! ) .. ..but then you bump into them a few weeks later n they are upset n rags on you asking ‘why didn’t you add me?!’
Erm excuse me? U knows the term subtle hints?
Oh my…
So much so I begin to wonder .. hmm… I’m not sure all this being friendly approach is a good thing or not
coz people take it upon themselves that just coz of that, we’ve became best friends for life type thing and rings us up no matter what the time … Haha bless…. 🙆✌️#subtlehints #boundaries #personalspace

Of course it isn’t all bad, yin and yang, positive negative… all that said we do meet a lot of people too whom we connected and as it turned beautiful friendships bloomed and good acquaintances made.
People who have similar minds, maybe scary at first haha as you try to size them up … but language barriers etc aside, the dynamics of the new friendship makes you go Wow , distances , different parts of the world and different cultures but same cause. 🙏🌏❤️

When we first came it’s to see some things about the country, things we’ve been doing before us coming, things we’ve heard about, also about the people; be it the few times for me or first for Andrew, both wanting to experience various things and reach out where we can.
And that is what it is today. The number of people too who has come up to us with just that first exchange of numbers, in person or online and you meet, chat again and go “hey this is alright..”
Jim and Sarah haha we are tourists. Yes go with that. 😉

Ever heard the saying “And the Universe conspired..” ?
Well that’s the feeling I get about our time here. There have been many things we’ve seen and had the privilege to do … and we reach out and the people I talked about, same thoughts and cause, reaches back and we just compliment and collaborate as we go and things just come together… God blesses.. is all I can say.

Be it the mother struggling to earn for her family on the makeshift roadside stool she sits on under the heat of the day, to orphaned children who lost their parents in a devastating cyclone which wiped out their island or orphaned young girls whom a school have taken in and gave them free education, or providing treats, gifts or simple gesture of buying them a snack , or just walking with them and taking time to know their names and abit about them, those exchanges, those moments, those minutes, no matter what is so so precious and priceless.

Many smiles, rekindled hope , heartwarming and shining from people’s faces and that bit of difference it makes in their lives, a little respite and relief from their struggles, each and every one of them from the wee ones to the old, … just to be able to be a part of it , be it a small gesture or a smile, a hug to one or a contribution to a few all over, be it from us or people we are in contact with in various areas here, as well as parts of the world, friends, family etc, they hear and they want to be a part of it too…
And truly, for Andrew and me, we can sincerely say, from the bottom of our hearts, it has been a real privilege and a truly humbling experience, they have given us in return with all of everything and each and everyone.

God blesses many times over.
Ameen, Amen.

~ Liz ❤️

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P.S:~ I want to add a few lines to say a few words… in what we do we only do in our capacity sharing hope, love & support. Many who understands & shares this cause & experience with us, I thank you for all the kindness you have extended and we make it a very high priority to facilitate the help that comes through. God blesses…..❤️
To those who revel in jealousy, envy, and nastiness please take it somewhere else. Deal with whatever it is maturely and think carefully and wisely about the implications of your actions.
I wish you peace, acceptance and the capacity to move on … …
… Let go and Let God. ✌️~L

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When all that stands between you & a fair chance is $63.

Growing up, mum would always remind us of the poor kids who don’t have anything and how lucky we are to have the things we have to enjoy a comfortable life. She would say “we (dad & her) provide for you everything…. all you need to do is study and do well”. Or the times when we don’t finish our food she’d again say, “don’t waste… many don’t even have food to eat. ; a toy to play; etc ” those were my early reminders of not to take things for granted and to be grateful for what we have. I’m sure many of us has had that from our parents at some point growing up.

And then you grow up …and then sometimes you forget and you splurge and waste …and then something happens to remind you of all of it again….. and again… and again…..

Many would ask the whys and what brought us here to Bangladesh. Hmm it’s a tricky question to answer coz it’s many things, some with answers +things at different points in our lives that we wanted to do and see etc…

It’s been an amazing journey this trip of ours.. and things we never ever dreamed of doing … well we did dream of certain things and the Epicness of it is , we get to live , do and experience it , .. It is just mind blowing and real eye openers, a truly very very very humbling experience. And at times Andrew will turn to me and say.. “really you can’t just make this up ..” Things just happen, we don’t really plan or have an itinerary for this travel.

How things just flows n happens like the connections in this tangled weave of life, (I’m getting philosophical now bear with me .. haha) … for example like our frequent trips to the beach where we meet many kids ~ I’ve written a lot on our blog page about the Street kids and SeaBeach kids …

… And then you meet a kid like Al Amin, a sweet boy of 12 who sells Cotton Candy on the beach. Always pleasant with a smile as he walks the beach with what he has to sell for the day….

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The very fact that he is one of the few kids out there who doesn’t asks or hangs on your arm for money from us but instead walks the Seabeach from 4pm daily with his Cotton candy to sell, is one of the things that draws us to him. His ever smiling face and even weaving through the throng of people, he would stop and try to speak to us for a few minutes or if the crowd is not that many, he would spend time with us or collects shells with me and then skips back to work with a wave and his big smile.

Last week he told us his mom just went for an operation. He communicates in his language with a smattering of English words, ever so polite. He went on to explain that the operation was a C-section and that he has a new baby sister (awww…) and asked whether we would like to visit his home. Of course we would! are you kidding? .. So he arranged to meet us back at the beach on Sunday at 10am and he will bring us to his house. 😊

Today is Sunday. We were running late, 30 minutes late because of another invitation earlier that morning. We rushed on the Tom-tom to the beach and my heart sank a bit when I didn’t see him, all the while thinking he must’ve waited and then gave up with a disappointed look on his face. 😭💔
Then as we approached the sand bank near the water, Andrew said “There he is..”
Oh thank God.
Smiling as he walked towards us, he had a pinkish shirt (well thoroughly worn) and a pair of jeans, shoes and all…. awww…
He asked what the time was and I pointed to my watch and said 10.30 . He said in Bengali n hand gestures: “Thirty minutes late”
~ ouff ..Eek! I know…..awe😬 sorry ..

So we hopped on the Tom-tom and off we went to his house in ShomutiPara, a slum village just at the back of the tourist strip of Cox’s Bazar.*•
We then got down from the Tom-tom and a bit of a quick walk in and we approached his house …

OMG….

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*•ShomutiPara is one of the 3 villages behind Cox’s bazar airport just past the runways. We were told by another one of our friends that the people residing there are mainly from the islands of Moreshkali and surrounding ones. Those islands suffered devastating damage during the 1991 cyclone and many of it’s people came down to Cox and resettled in these Paras.

Back to the story …

We’ve been to a few shacks on our trip before this but this hut was quite something. A low door and front wall build on a clay bank is it’s front foundation , we had to duck low to cross the doorway into the house. first thing as you cross through was kind of a front space area where we would call it the vestibule (?)

There were odds and ends stored there together with the unsold packets of cotton candy from the previous day. Then there’s another doorway to a dimly lit space which serves as a family room which also doubles up as a dining, living and a place where his parents and him and his 2 sisters sleep. His grandmother and uncle greeted us at his home. His mom and dad n new baby sister had gone to the hospital for a post natal check to clean her Csection wound.

Back to the layout of his house, to the left of that living area cum dining and sleep area, there’s a small room with a cupboard and a bed for his uncle n aunt. Back of house is the open kitchen with its clay built oven and another small back utility room. That was it. 8 people in the house.

There was hardly any other furniture sans a few plastic chairs as the father had to sell their furniture to pay for the mom’s operation. I read her medical file from the hospital. She had had to go for an emergency Csection a month before her expected due date because she was bleeding due to Placenta previa ( where the placenta detached prematurely from the womb, a very dangerous risk as it cuts the oxygen supply to baby and mother could die from complications such as hemorrhage)

An hour later, his parents and baby sister came home and we spent the afternoon with the family, who was so hospitable it is so humbling to be in their house. Hardly enough to make ends meet with meager possessions but wanted so much for us to join them for lunch and grandma began to cook in the kitchen as we sat and spend the time doting on his newborn sister.

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We sat and talked to his uncle who was the translator for the household and his mom who was on the living room floor resting and you could see she was quite struggling wz the pain from the operation.

As we chatted I asked whether Al Amin goes to school. His uncle explained that he did attend Madrasah but coz of the family’s financial constrains, the family could not afford the school fees and that he has to go out to work instead but his sister attends the Madrasah.

I queried further how much was the school fees for a month. The uncle replied “400 taka” that’s >> 5USD (mind blown, quick count times 12 is = 60 dollars a year)
OMG ….

All thoughts crossed ones mind at that moment. OMG is that what it came down to? A realization that hits you hard that that is what stands between a fair chance in education for the child – and one who is clearly smart , sharp & witty and hardworking and polite – ….is a mere 60$ .
How do one from a better situation than this family, be able to wrap their mind around this? That that for that amount alone I could easily spend it on a pair of shoes or something frivolous. Ouff.

(And again Mom’s words starts to play in my head…)

I asked again if we provided for his fees would he enroll again to school? His uncle said yes.

Well then….. Done.

We told them we will arrange for money to be transferred to our close friend here in Cox for long term plan and they can collect it from him for payment for AlAmin’s school fees. 60$ a year.
You can’t look yourself in the face if you can’t provide at least that. I can’t.

Bangladesh alone has a population of approx 160 million and true some would argue “…Pffft .. Just one, what about the million others like Al Amin or worse. ?”

my answer to whomever thinks that would be this: my favorite story of all ….

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We post photos with kids, of the kids, some orphaned, others just victim of circumstances of being born poor and tell stories of our visits and meeting these kids on our trips around Bangladesh coz , as common or as hard as it is, depending on what you think of all the 3rd world problems etc, it’s also a method for us to reach out, so that if anyone feels they would like to chip in, support, or sponsor a child, we can try and facilitate that. And some people have. It has nothing to do about promoting ourselves or our egos.
It’s about how we can tell their story and with it, maybe that which is as small as one child’s situation or a whole school’s challenges like bigger classrooms and strong, safer infrastructure of the existing school, to clothing and meals, everybody and everyone can reach out and help to “make a difference to that one” and to “remind us of the poor kids who don’t have anything “… it may be a very small sum to us, $60 ….but for the children in this part of the whole wide world, it truly does and can make a huge huge difference.

~Liz ❤️

“Even the smallest act of caring for another person is like a drop of water -it will make ripples throughout the entire pond…”

“If you’re giving to get, all you’ll receive is disappointment. But if you’re giving to give, all you’ll receive is joy.

And my favorite of all is….

“We’re all in this together.”

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Twitter : @ttravelers2
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Hopefully some handy tips for the Foreign Tourist 🌐📍

I first came to Bangladesh 22 years ago, lived in Dhaka for 3 years …and yes it’s pretty much the same way things are all round, but with more modern high rised buildings and highways built but OMG the traffic! ; especially in Dhaka it has gotten very congested; even the locals complain about it.

Today, Dhaka’s population alone is at a staggering 14,251,000 million (Chittagong, 4,816,000 people) …yes you can see why it’s that bad…. Between rickshaws, talagari, buses, lorries, cars, Tom-toms , cows, sheep, goats, dogs and people, people and more people …

On average we calculated on peak hours, which seem nowadays every time, it takes 2 hours each way for a trip from just it’s outskirts. (Eg from Uttara, which is near the airport to areas like, Motijeel the heart of Dhaka City – Distance: Uttara to Motijeel is 17kms. Dhaka Airport to Motijeel 14.9kms).

Communicating wise etc generally you are able to communicate in English but if you’re talking with locals like the Rickshaw drivers or Market sellers etc, we have found it’s easier to have on your phone, screenshots of simple Bengali phrases n words or have pictures* ready to show so the locals who don’t converse well and can’t really grasp what you are after or trying to say.. it definitely saves the nerves and the time, yours and theirs.

✈️📍When you fly in depending on the propose of visit, I’m assuming most visitors to Bangladesh are “Tourists” just like us, so yeah a Visa on Arrival can be easily obtained at the Airport. (Do check though for eligibility of country you’re from).

📇 Once your plane lands, come down through, at the Passport Clearance area, find the counter with the sign “Visa on Arrival”. The police guy at the desk will just ask you some question like purpose of visit and length of stay (easier to just say holiday or Tourist) and he fills out a receipt type paper and points you to the cashiers counter where you pay USD 50 for it , with 30 days stay. 💵
*scroll down for visa extension info*

Back track a bit to pre-travel ; on what we packed and brought along as in supplies for the simple things we are used to :

3-in-1 Coffee Packets
Tea Bags
Small packets of Sugar
(We can’t live without Caffeine) ☕️☕️

It’s not that you can’t get them here, it’s just handy to have when you arrive for the first few days as you try to get your bearings of the place. Different if you are in a 4 or 5 star hotel where, you know, ..posh, of course, you have your coffee/tea provided in your room & mini bar etc (oh my ..haha *clink🍸 * ) .. can… but We travel cheap and wing it as we go.

That said I also did pack :

•Plastic Cutlery🍴
•(2 sets) Metal Spoon/fork/teaspoon

Medication – 💊
•paracetamol,
•band aids,
•calamine lotion, 🆒
•✔️cream for bites, burns, sting (Japanese brand – Mopiko- works wonders!) 💫👍
•medicated plasters for backaches 💪
•Brufen – for fever & pain 🙇

•Anti diarrhea medication (never had to use it so far, touch wood) 🚽
•Activated Charcoal

••Mosquito/Insect Repellant (A Must have!) 🐜🐝🐞💥

•Tea tree Oil ( or you can bring Lavender Oil, helps with wiping down beds for bugs etc in dodgy places) 💦😂

•Sunscreen
•Toothpaste
•Shampoo
•Conditioner
•Dental Floss

💦Water Purification Tablets – we have been drinking the tap water here , just pop these tablets in, and use it for our kettle for our tea & coffee. ✔️✔️

We bought an electric kettle in Dhaka for 1500tk and we bring it with us everywhere we go.

Other things that are handy to have :

A dozen copies of Passport sized photograph
Passport Copies
Hand held fan🔆

🔋🔌Power Bank charger for phone, iPad, laptop coz the powercuts happen very often, like daily. (Too important also for on-the-go )

We brought along too:

Rope
Clothes pegs for our laundry
Tape
Anti bacterial Wipes

And any other prescription medication or what you normally have to take for maintainace & upkeep 🙂 .. for me it is my muscle relaxant for my neck… an old injury from a car accident… Sigh….

🔆Wherever you go, it’s a good idea to bring a bottle of mineral water to drink coz it can get pretty hot and you don’t want to be stuck in the hot Tom-tom on those long trips or walks under the hot Sun and dying of dehydration. (Drama I know and of course you can buy from shops, but better to have it in your bag) 💦👒☔️☀️⛅️

Yeah because you move around so much, trips and side trips etc, better come prepared some what with a bit of supplies.

We have had one encounter with quite an appalling hotel, where there was Paan (beetle leaf /nut) red spit marks on walls n floor, insects of few kinds, food under the mattress from God knows when, awful no flush squat type toilets. That said not all hotels are like that … 3 Star onwards are decent. 5 star hotels like the Sheraton, Raddisson, and the likes, you won’t even know you’re in Bangladesh.🎩👑

🔉📱Phone and Internet : most hotels would have wifi and/or you can buy a local SIM card at Airport arrival (Robi service provider at 500tk registration) it has 3G so you’ll be alright for Internet connections where there is no wifi service in hotel or outside. 316TK for 1GB usage. If you need credit top ups just walk into any shops, they can top up for you. (just give your local mobile number). You’ll receive a text from the service provider for the new credit top up.

🚩Anyway… If for any reason … after all that sightseeing and stay and adventure you decide you want to extend your stay, you can…. for a total of up to 90 days from your first date of arrival.
What we found hardest is different people + info on certain websites is not very accurate hence different versions n explanations given which can be very frustrating. (Hence this Blog post)

Anyway if you want to extend, here’s what you need:

1. Your Passport 🎫
2. Money, 💰and lots of it. (See attached pic for visa fees according to country) Ours came to 8000tk for 2, plus 10000tk they had asked us to pay to expedite the process time which was total bullocks; it’s actually bribe money for “not much help given”.

3. A 45mm x 35mm passport photo (Bring 2 just in case).
4. A filled out Machine Readable Visa Application Form (MRV Form). 📇Download one:
http://www.dip.gov.bd/sites/default/files/MACHINE%20READABLE%20VISA%20%20FORM.pdf
5. The immigration office opens between 10:00 am (maybe 9) and 13:00pm. 🏢

The address, for the Immigration Department in Dhaka , is:
Passport Bhaban
E-7, Agargaon
Sher-e-Banglanagar, Dhaka

In Chittagong :
Mansurabad,Chittagong

For other info on getting around etc, I don’t want to be giving point to point cause it sounds so serious 👯 and some may find it easier, some may find it harder. Either way , please do read our previous blog entries as we described our experiences with all these during our stay so far in Bangladesh.

Hope all this helps!
Cheers!

~Liz ❤️

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Supplies

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Words & Phrases

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Visa extension fees

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Map Dhaka Airport to Motijeel

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“You come Loneliness?” …and other chuckle-worthy phrases & things…

One thing about traveling I must say, the language styles and lingoes are always interesting and sometimes makes you go “..huh… What?!” :p

 I remember Andrew coming back one night from the shops (during our 1st month here) .. and was shaking his head and smiling, the kind where you’re amused & surprised, can’t believe it n going “..man idk…. ”
haha best way I can describe how it was, that was the look he had..

I asked him what happened .. He told me he met a Security guard (or was it a Policeman) sitting at one of the many stalls which lined the road near the hotel. So they greeted, Good evening .. and then the guard asked .. “You come loneliness? ” Andrew was like “What?!” (in his head of course) 

The guy repeated .. “You come loneliness?..”
(*Gulp.. scratch head)

….Aaahhh what he meant was “Are you alone?” (on trip ) Hahaha awww…. 

We noticed then on several other occasions that this was the term the locals used … “Are you going lonely?…” actually means “Are you going ALONE” aaahhh 💡🔆🙆👍😂
…A bit scary-ish if at first you don’t understand what they really actually meant. Like greeting a person at night with “are you lonely” brings your thoughts to cringeworthy scenarios..

Then there’s “Available”. Like for instance you ask “Do you have bats in this country?” “Yes bats are available”
(scroll down for the bat story)
Another is “joyful” he’s a joyful person. He’s a what now? Cheerful I think that’s what they mean… 🙂 awww….

Accents and stuff are tricky much so you has to listen very carefully and much miscommunication we have (Yoda talk) …albeit many funny instances like before we came Andrew said bet we can go see elephants and stuff and get tshirts done with the elephant footprint, that’d be something eh … well so far no elephants seen… so we asked our friend “Where can we see elephants here in Cox?” (we were in the car that time) he answers from the front seat yes Elephant is available. Woah really? There’s elephants in Cox? Brilliant! Then we asked Where? He replied at Ocean Paradise. ,,,, Ocean Paradise the hotel? “Yes ..” He says . Wowzers now that’s something Elephant at a nearby hotel ,so perfect we can go see. But we didn’t that time coz we got caught up with stuff n had to fly to Dhaka for our Visa extension…

So then when we came back a week plus later , we were in Cox again and asked can we go see the Elephant now?
“Elephant? ”
“Yes Elephant. You told us it was at Ocean Paradise (hotel)”
“Elephant…? in Ocean Paradise?”
“Yeah you said..”
“Nooooo….. Elephant not available”
Elephant not available at Ocean Paradise”
“Oh but you told us “at Ocean Paradise. We remember clearly”
“Noooooooo no elephant ..
then after much confusion and back & forth talk about this, he went ..,
..Noooo not Elephant,..
Elipad ..(Helipad, ) is available at Ocean Paradise.

What?! …Awww ohhh … HAHAHAHAHAHA
We were besides ourselves n doubling over with laughter at that.
Oh my…
No not Elephant.. Elipad
Hahaha So Funny 😂😂😂

(btw we actually got to see an elephant by the other side of main road as we were driving by in Dhaka, all pretty in red and colors adorned for some type of occasion, I think) 🐘 vs 🚁

Anyway, Andrew is so good now with talking the local style. Coming from Canada, with his accent & all and plus Andrew being Andrew who is thorough and elaborate when he talks. 
the local people with average to good English can quite understand and communicate with him. But others who are not so fluent will look lost and can hardly grasp what Andrew is talking about. When we first came people would turn to me and say , some with an anguished look on their faces, .. “Sister can you please say me (tell me) what brother Andrew is talking, I’m not understand”

haha awww… and this has happened on many occasions 😋 ~ me becomes translator 🙇🙋🔇🔊

Well Andrew is so good at it now, so much so that, when he spoke to his best friend on Viber call to Canada, Balj was shocked and asked “What the hell was that?!” Tee hee .. well as the saying goes .. If you can’t beat them, join them. Well done Andrew 😉

Added: 18 Oct 2014

Take SeaBath?

“What?!”

Shower

“What?!”

Ahhh he means go swim in the sea. 😝

“Seabeach going?”

“Biscuit have?”

“Are you loneliness?”

“No elephants not available”

Now the Bat story….
🙌
One moonlit night we had tea with our dear friend up on the watch tower on the hotel compound. I saw something flying and asked “Are there bats here? ” Bat? he asked and did the swing motion of a bat (as in Cricket bat ⚾️) “No bat as in animal”. He couldn’t understand what the word meant besides (Sports) bat so Andrew googled it (images) and showed him 👉 “Bat”.
Ahh… he said something in Bengali, which means Leather Monkey.

“Yes bat is available”.
Wonderful.

Fast forward to today, ….
We just came back from the shops to get our phone/Internet credit topped up (Robi network provider) and I told Andrew I really wanted to sit on the beautiful rustic looking swing that’s by the pond in front of the hotel. “OK” he said and on it I sat, constantly yapping to him “will the branch break?” “will the rope snap from my weight?” Andrew as always, looks at me and shakes his head.
Anyways it was nice as I swung higher.. mission … done.

I got off the swing and Andrew was talking to Sabina who had followed us from the shops earlier n he was showing her the photos he took of her yesterday during our outing to go see the boats….
then suddenly one of the hotel staff appeared next to me and said “Ma’am, …. Bat”

WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA 😱😵😵😱😱 (..runs away screaming …)

That got everybody looking and laughing at me.. Oh man… Rodent-like creatures are a big no-no for me and also KuKur (see prev blog post).

An earlier experience would be in one of the remote areas where there was a snake charmer in the local market and he had a big group of people standing around him, watching. Andrew got curious and we went to see it. Then the snake charmer seeing us foreigners watching his street act, opened another box and took out… a baby Mongoose ! with a collar tied tightly around it’s neck n it was shrieking … and me .. of course screamed and ran behind Andrew (See photo. ) Anyways that said, most animals, unfortunately , scare the hell out of me.,,, 🐒🐀🐇🐸🐻😼🐕🐍🐊🐉😱

…. Here’s the pic Andrew took of the hotel staff holding the bat, exactly as he did when he came up n held it to me 😬

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and the one Andrew captured of the crowd’s reaction as I screamed and ran from the little scary mongoose

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…to be continued ✌️

~ Liz ❤️

The Giving, the Receiving, the Sharing, the Caring, Compassion and the People

I have been pondering on this for a few days now… and it’s a kind of bitter sweet thing to have to reflect on,… nevertheless I think it’s a good life lesson and experience to feel the way I do and for Andrew as well as we feel the same about it; I have been trying to find the right words or a quote to start with for days now .. I don’t know if the ones I choose applies well to the depth and complexities of this .. anyways .. this blog post will be a serious one unlike the other posts we’ve done, so bear with me… ❤️

“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.”
Maya Angelou

We began this journey, with just what we had… plus also, with a lot of hope and with an open mind… This was a place we knew meant a lot to us and though there were some goals we wanted to achieve, we didn’t know what to expect.. really.

The streets of this place, from the moment we landed in Dhaka airport to our trips to the city and slums there, then onward to Cox’s Bazar to visit and see some places and the in between trips and to Chittagong and other areas… yes it’s hard, the people and the extend of poverty is really, truly an eye-opener.

I can only tell you from my experience and from what I have seen and feel. The joy, the thrill, the intensity, the desperation, the need, the compassion, the hope, the worthiness or worthlessness … the goodness, the kindness, the want, much in stark contrast … it’s staggering. Really really is. As Andrew put it, “…at some times, the Black and White of things is so mashed and mixed that all you can see or feel and experience is just the Grey part of it. ..” I get what he’s trying to say … As a comparison it’s like of the photo he took just a few days ago… the stunning beauty of the natures surrounding and the reality of living in poverty just grips you..

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(The gorgeous beauty of the beach and sky backdrop and then you have the shacks ..)

He told me even with the picture .. it couldn’t really capture that contrast and contradiction he saw…

I get what he means…

When we go on our drives and in-between trips, on the roads, seeing the day to day lives of the people here, from the locals n tourists to the people in the village, it is as though Life is showing you, teaching you, like reading a book or watching a documentary but in it’s true grit and depth.

It is all very very intense..

Poverty here is extensive… and the need to survive mixed with desperation is hard on the soul.

Lined on the roads as you walk or drive past, few times we have seen persons, sometimes a man, sometimes a woman with just the bit of clothes on their backs, lying there … with all the light and hope lost from their eyes..

The first time I saw this, it rocked me to the very core. At what point did Life or someone lose all hope and love for this man, how did he in any point of his life lost hope in himself? How has society in it’s entirety let him spiral down to such a state where really he was left just a mere shell… void of life, joy, love and hope. ..

Really heartbreaking and makes you suck your breath hard like being given a hard blow to the stomach…

And then by contrast you see too in the villages, just as poor as the next guy, living in shacks made of planks or aluminum sheets with thatched roofs which have been mended and patched numerous times, but yet they had smiles and laughter and hospitality to offer even with whatever little or merely nothing they possessed. Kids jumping, playing, running, or swimming in the ponds with its greenish looking water… moms getting on with their daily chores of hanging the laundry or sweeping the front space of their shack… the road side-seller, be it men or women, crouching to light a fire, with tiny babies or children in tow, to cook the food and snacks they are selling for such little almost nothing amounts … which is for 10taka or 30 and a bit more for a roll of crepè like local food; asking nothing of handouts or donations, and trying their best to make it work to earn money.

Same as the SeaBeach or StreetKids with their plastic sacks scavenging the rubbish that litters the streets or doing or selling bits of trinkets or water and tidbits to the local tourists… Same goes for the Rickshaw drivers some ride past and ask and if you say no, they just ride on, some persist to a point where it’s harassment, following and expecting you to give them business even though you’re doing something as simple as walking to the beach in front.

Then you have the beggars… children as small as a few years old sometimes come up to you and first word and palm out .. “Bakshish” (means money in Bengali). From the wee ones to very old persons, some perfect with arms some without, some can run after you, some paddle or bottom shuffle towards you as they have no legs or limbs injured or deformed… the blind, the healthy looking … comes to you pointing to their mouth or stomach or to whatever afflicts them physically …

Hard hard hard to watch.

Even so, you have those who come up to you with just pleasantries and salutations, content to give a smile or spend some time chatting and getting to know you with the few English words they know or in Bengali which we try to respond and reply with to get the conversation going, and them trying genuinely to communicate without any expectations whatsoever…

Also in contrast is when you give a gift to a Managing Director in charge of Cox branch , like one of the recycled items I make as I sit and make on my spare time, a pencil holder out of a cardboard mixed nuts container, with Jutè string and sea shell and you go to their house and see it placed on their main display shelve with pride, happiness and gratitude …. such contrast right?

As much as you don’t want to, you can’t help but think of the lives they have as compared to what you or I are used to. Our kids* (by means the more “lucky” ones and those in progressive countries I guess) have iPads and the latest games on Playstation or Wii and the kids here are content with just spinning old bicycle tyres … some really work hard at very young ages while the average and well to do kids (even here) complains and whines coz the food is not to their liking…

Also you get same peoples in same situation, just slightly better like the shop sellers etc beating and kicking and chasing these StreetKids away like they are rag dolls. Andrew has come close so many times to losing it with these guys and have many times turned or put out his hand to stop or pulled the kid/s out of the way or stood between them and the people who were picking on them. He just can’t stand watching how they treat these children. Hard.

Even the shop sellers in the proper shops ( not the shack-like set ups) have this mentality of greed and bottom line…. not all, some look out for each other but some wants to hoard your patronage and look at you with disdain and irk when they see you have bought from another shop but not from them. Like fairness, kindness and brotherhood seems lost on their values of doing things.. I hate feeling that is how they are like..

Also when they see you it’s like what (more) can I get out of this foreigner … from the few StreetKids to the shops to religious group and Charity/Volunteer runned establishments…. It’s like whatever is given is never able to satisfy them in gratefulness or sincerity … there are those who do, really there is, don’t get me wrong…. but most you get those who milk it for all it’s worth. … Sigh ..

I get it it’s a hard life for them… but I guess what I’m trying to say is that you can be poor but … there must be some integrity in yourself as a human being … you know what I mean? Sigh….

Example I can give is the shop seller … wants all the business to himself where there are many other shop sellers striving to do the same… bottom line , that is to provide for their families too. And the StreetKids and beggars.. one thing is to work n not beg with a trained face, milking it for what it is worth, one thing is to slog it out and earn an honest living no matter how hard or backbreaking it is… that’s the integrity I mean…

I know some would say how would you know… or how they feel… Well it’s one thing to receive money out of someone else’s sincere help or generosity or charity but another to demand it be given to you and you only ?. , not others…

Bounty and blessings, mercy is for everyone and unity is so important in a society in its entirety especially in a place like this… but it’s like every man for himself type thing and the hardest is from supposedly respected Holy men or persons of some form of authority in establishments like the bribe and extortion, like after being given a large donation but yet instead of being thankful or sincere you backbite the other person who is in the same boat as you in terms of the struggles labeling him or them as not worthy of help or asking the person who’s giving another huge demand that you need met on top of whatever’s been already given… you give 50takas to a kid on the street and he asks for more for the shells he’s given you which he picked from the beach… Or when you give for a certain cause or purpose then a peoples decide to pocket the difference for their own themselves using the given money on them instead of the group
as a whole… pulling face if they can’t get the sum they demand… or you just gave them a huge sum and even with the sum in hand their next breath would be “..you know also… da da this one and another needs .. when and how much can you give? “…Like guys…. seriously…. It hits us hard coz we ourselves don’t have much and pitch very hard for these people to try and facilitate the help for them… yet despite that they try to get more and more and more and milk it and then pull faces … I just don’t get it.

Sigh….

It’s not for adornment or songs of praises that we give or do what we do…. I believe it benefits the giver as well as to those who receive…. but don’t brag when you give, and as much as possible , do good by stealth, or as the saying goes in charity and the likes of it, what the right hand gives the left shouldn’t know….

Same goes for those who receives … if instead of being given whatever little or much as compared to the next person, you complain and demand… Be thankful for your allotment in an imperfect world. Though better circumstances can be imagined, far worse are nearer misses than you probably care to realize.

Why is it that it’s become a blurred line between need, appreciation, thankfulness and sincerity and then tips to become greed, ingratitude and disdain and taking advantage, using your misfortunes to get more out of a person in their giving or pulling faces coz someone gave you something and you crave more and more and more….
رِزْق

Getting knocked down in Life is a given, … looking out for each other in the ties of compassion and love is the way it should be …I hope to see everyone prosper and survive it … no matter how hard life is… with love, hope, sincerity, faith and courage , God willing..

(Added: 3.40pm Oct 5, 2014) *** 💟☑️

I want to balance up this blog post by adding that despite the above mentioned issues we face, there is still that great joy and the feeling and privilege of being humbled by each and every experience we have had be it with the not so pretty side to the ones who are genuine and sincere and really appreciative of the help that has been given…. they accept it with true happiness and joy be it a few Takas, to the bigger amounts that was facilitated to go to them…

The look in their eyes and the big smiles on their faces shows us that they feel that rekindled hope and feeling of self-worth that someone actually cares , in this mad crazy spinning-out-of-control , sometimes hard hard life, that there are people out there in the spirit of brotherhood, in the spirit of true Humanity, through love, care and that even if they are in front of you in the giving part or across oceans sending the help, that someone genuinely cares and thinks of them and I think that’s a truly beautiful thing in itself…. That’s what Life is truly about… helping each other in our journeys ….

~ Liz ❤️

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“Love is the only way”.

“There is some kind of a sweet innocence in being human- in not having to be just happy or just sad- in the nature of being able to be both broken and whole, at the same time.”
C. JoyBell C.

“Do good by stealth, and blush to find it fame.”
Alexander Pope

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough”
Oprah Winfrey

“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is like an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”
Mahatma Gandhi

“The wise do not buy into other people’s perceptions of who they are and what they are capable of. Instead, they bypass a person’s public persona and see who they are in their highest expression. When you see actions taken with integrity, instead of words only”

Blessings of A Newborn

Let’s see… Been some while now since the last blog post and we’ve been busy with our touristy and our something-something* things here and there..

Yesterday we did Aqiqah* for Andrew’s niece, little Lydia Dawn, who was born on the 25th of September 2014.

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bless her ❤ Cutie Pie

{Aqiqah – is a welcoming celebration usually hosted by the parents or extended family of the newborn child to celebrate the child's birth and welcoming her or him. And also to prepare a meal from the meat and invite the community, including the poor to share in the joyous occasion.}

It was done at the Orphanage/School nearby and everyone gathered and helped with the occasion from start to finish….

Photos of Aqiqah at the Orphanage/School:

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❤️❤️ 120 plates of the meals for the children and they enjoyed it all as much as we did 😊 Bless…

~ Liz