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

Oh that SeaBeach …. 🐚🌞

Cox’s Bazar is beautiful … it’s stunning, it grips you. I guess besides the fact that it’s the “Longest SeaBeach in the World” ..120 Kms of ‘uninterrupted’* stretch of sandy beach, Cox’s unique blend of beach, people, scenes, a laid back local tourist spot, well it’s no where near as busy or pandemonium-like as Dhaka …or Chittagong for that matter… it’s building itself up as a tourist spot (you see many new hotels being built but some construction unfinished, which is quite a norm for here). Anyway, I guess that’s why I guess the charm is different… it’s changing and progressing (albeit slow) but it still very much retains it’s local feel, if that makes sense.

Our favorite thing to do is to go down to the beach (of course) during the evenings, (2 mornings in the whole 2 months we’ve been here… and probably 2 noon times too + one every badly sunburned legs episode*).

The walk to the beach is always interesting and different each day. (see prev posts)

Something about the beach… which cradles the Bay of Bengal. With it’s rickshaws and stalls selling shells and all the trinkets & treats, it’s a great getaway for local tourists, from students on weekend trips with friends, families with their kids on the beach, groups of men on work/business stops and of course, the SeaBeach (local) kids; some beg, some doing whatever little work they can manage, fishermen with their nets, and horses, cows roaming the beach, against a stunning backdrop of Sunsets. It is truly something to watch and enjoy.

The SeaBeach kids have a special place in our hearts (always will). You might ask why SeaBeach not beach or sandy beach… well that’s how the locals call it. Idk if there’s a river beach but yeah SeaBeach it is…

Long lines of lounge chairs and beach umbrellas people laughing, posing (various hilarious poses I might add *must do a blog just with pictures of them posing) – ..jumping, shrieking, watching, groups of local beach cameraman offering to capture the moments for you -at 20taka per print. 👍

The beach is clean… compared to anywhere else in Bangladesh. Quite litter free, well you get the odd bottle and scraps and droppings from the cows and horses roaming the beach. Crab holes, seashells, you get the picture.

Swimming wise, the currents are pretty strong and you’re only allowed a certain distance (lifeguards are stationed on the beach with flags on the beach to indicate the safer zones ) but nonetheless it is great place to hang out.

People will stop us and take pictures with us and we smile, pose and talk to them…. The SeaBeach (local) kids will walk or run after us and we shower them with attention , smiles 💕 and the unique conversations we have with them, a mishmash of Bengali and English words plus hand gestures and lots if pointing and trying to describe stuff etc.

Main thing with them, very few speak English so we try to teach them some words and phrases; me trying to speak in bengali and them teaching more local words to me and I explain back the words in Bengali and English both. I really really enjoy doing this. Cause for that moment, few minutes to sometimes a couple of hours of our time and during their walks with us, we could give them attention and smiles and laughter …. probably even hope and the feeling of self-worth.

No doubt these kids have very hard lives, working at very young ages, scavenging or selling trinkets for little amounts that they can get; but in our walks with them, we take them away from that hardness of life and give them smiles, appreciation and hope. Many warm up to us pretty quickly and we walk holding hands with them.

They take great joy when we take selfies with them, they feel happy when telling us their local words and phrases, comfortable that they’d are able to share what they know too with us in the few minutes they start walking with us. Someone, actually several people have commented; “you are not like the typical foreigners who tend to keep to themselves” … We don’t; we try to immerse ourselves and mix and talk to the people.

And these will forever be moments I will never forget for the rest of my life. That in this crazy mad world we live in although from different countries and backgrounds and lives, on that beach we loved and we laughed and we shared the most beautiful moments of joy and appreciation from one human being to another….

~ Liz ❤️

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People, Rickshaws & more ~ Dhaka & Cox’s Bazar Style

You would be amazed at how this place is… or shocked, depends. Cox is much better than Dhaka, at least for us that is. It’s a bit more laid back and doesn’t have the total pandemonium that Dhaka offers ( haha!) that said, Dhaka is quite ok if not for the congestion, people & vehicles, it’s unique madness where traffic lights are relatively moot, Red is GO all the time it seems. We had so many close shaves, sandwiched in between 4 buses in our Tuk-tuk ( or Tom-tom ~ auto- rickshaws), vehicles so close all you need to do is put a finger out, not even your arm. Yeah that close (eek!) And the HEAT in those things! OMG 😱😱😱😩😤😖 Sweat just pours out of you.
Also in Dhaka though, the second you stop (in traffic or something) kids, street peddlers selling flowers, fruits, books, toys, what-have-yous and beggars, will swamp the Rickshaw. Sometimes the traffic comes to a complete standstill and there’s nothing you can do but sit and bake. *sizzles*

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(Inside the Tuk-tuk) caged motor vehicle 😁✌️*Tom-tom

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😂
In Cox ( Bazar) there are more Rickshaws and Auto Rickshaws than actual car (‘ghari’ in Bengali) from what I’ve seen…

The riders/drivers are something else..
They will ride past you, alongside you or swerve and stop and cut into your path as you walk and ask (persistently) for you to hop on and offer to take you to the local attractions, places or beach. Trick or tip is to try bargain a price BEFORE you get on or else they’ll ask for an exorbitant amount at the end of the ride. We speak from experience. LOL! Yeah… A 15 minute ride and Rickshaw man asks for 200taka which was just supposed to be 30-50taka according to our pals later when we told them about it. Yikes! ….. Yeah bargain and agree on a price first.

It’s actually quite fun in the Rickshaws here (Cox) as they don’t have the cage thingy doors like the Dhaka ones and you can see the scene and scenery and take pictures etc.

We have seen epic stuff being carried in these things. Goats, motorbike, Animal skin (with blood dripping from the freshly peeled animal skin) 😖ladders, coconuts and various kind of furniture, etc. We ourselves only carried plants in the Tom-tom. A gift for the hotel we’re staying in.

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It’s a great way to get around but yeah if you’re a foreigner and not used to it, yeah brace yourself, hard, for major bumps and bone-jarring shakes from potholes and swerves and steel your nerves before you embark on trips in the Tom-tom on the Bangladesh roads (it’s like going to war, let me tell you 😂 ) and the heat in these vehicles during traffic jams. Ouff. Bring a fan.

~ Liz

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