Tuesday, September 2, 2008

In Dhaka

I'm finally in Dhaka.  I haven't quite settled in, but it will happen soon.  Everything has happened so quickly, I haven't even had a chance to think about what happened in the last few days.  I am really sad that things didn't work out at YPSA, and I wonder if the decision to leave was influenced by everyone telling me that my living conditions were awful.  But I feel as though I'll be able to conduct "real" research here, even though I don't really even know what that means.  So right now, I'm living with David in Gulshan, a pretty nice part of town.  Daddy left on Monday night, which I think was also the start of Ramadan.  So I'm really kind of alone now, having to talk to people with my very broken Bengali.  I feel like I will be getting ripped off a lot for transportation too because people can tell that I'm a foreigner.  I might have mentioned this before, but I really feel like I've been here forever.  I can't even imagine what it will be like to be here for 9 months.  

I'm also really disconcerted about my environment.  This is a country where (I feel) that women are treated as equals, nor should they feel like they should be.  Clearly, as someone who went to an all-girls school for 14 years growing up thinking that women were of course equal, if not better than men, this bothers me a lot.  People also stare at me a lot, which perhaps I've mentioned as well.  I just don't get it.  I guess this is where "cross-cultural understanding" comes in.  Today, I went to the ARA (American Recreational Association) to become a member.  I saw all these American kids running around playing with each other, and I thought about how interesting it would be to live in different countries as a child.  Most members are in some way related to the Embassy, which I guess is why all of the Fulbrighters are allowed to join as well.  

I met the cook, Rita, today as well.  She seems really nice, and it's funny because she speaks to me in Bengali and to David in English.  But we are paying her a lot, which I don't really agree with, but whatever.  My cook at YPSA cooked for me as well as for the entire staff (about 25-30 people), and she only got an equivalent of $25 a month.  Rita is getting paid $120 a month, most probably because of her experience with foreigners/ability to understand English.  

I'm feeling really useless right now, especially since I'm not doing any work.  Tomorrow I have a meeting with Shaheen at the American Center to discuss my project.  Apparently, they have a problem with my affiliation with IUB and want me to work with some other organization.  I don't think they realize that a huge reason for why I came to Dhaka was so that I could work with Dr. Rahman as IUB.  I'm going to have to explain that to them tomorrow.  I'm also nervous about having to travel by myself to the meeting because I'm not really sure how to get to the American Center.  

So I guess I'm a little lonely and distressed just because I don't know what I'm doing here.  I've really tried these past two weeks to be super upbeat about everything, but lately I've found it a little more difficult to keep that up.  Hopefully by the time I write my next entry things will have worked out positively.  


Elizabeth said...

Hey! It's Betty. I miss you but it sounds like you are having awesome experiences already. Plus its nice that you are living with David and Sara. Is this the best way to get in touch with you? What is your snail mail address or skype name? Well, i liked reading your entries, and i usually ADD on these kind of mass email things. anyway, i have nothing exciting to report on myself. dont forget to tell me how to get in touch with you best. love, liz

Tiffany said...

We'll be glad to have you in Dhaka! Keep your spirits up. See you soon!

Sheaby said...

Dearest Supriya,

I MISS YOU. Thank you for keeping up the blog! I know some of your settling in process has been unsettling and frustrating, but I have no doubt that it will be worth it. Keep your pretty chin up, and know that when you're back in the USA, we can cuddle and watch bad movies again, and you'll be all the wiser for all that you've experienced. I LOVE YOU!!!