Sorry for the lack in posts the last two weeks. Things have gotten a little crazy. The week of July 8th was very, very, busy. We had a bunch of projects that we were all working on. Savaila and Clark had a lot of manual labor with the organic plot requiring them to drink about 2 gallons of water each one day and downing a few packets of ORSaline (oral rehydrating salts).  I had a bunch of lesson plans to prep as well as a solo day teaching English class. In addition to all the work Ramadan began. This is quite an experience for both Clark and I as the number of Muslims we know is very small and the number that actually fast during Ramadan comes in at a grand total 0. During Ramadan the people that fast become lethargic, stores are closed, food is scarce and expensive, and tempers run high. Of course a summer fast doesn’t help the situation. Right now the fast is almost 15 hours every day. Therefore, the theme of the week, ORSaline for the save OR Ramadan the omnipresent limiter.

Islam really is a fascinating religion. I am very open to religion but it has been quite a shock to me to see the sheer number of people that follow a religion so closely. While many Christians follow their religion very closely, going to church every Sunday, volunteering, going on mission trips, etc when it comes to the tithes due and sacrifices asked during Lent many are very lax with the requirements. Yet when Islam requires people to stop eating food and drinking water from sunrise to sunset people are devout to no end. In addition to the fasting during Ramadan many people do all 5 daily prayer sessions, and if not all five they do the lunch time and dinner time prayers often. In each prayer session the number of prayers varies between two and four different sets. In addition to these required prayers many people will say up to an extra three sets of prayers that act almost like brownie points.  The evening prayer with all the options takes at least 15 min. Now there is definitely the analog in Roman Catholicism with the Rosary but ask yourself how many Catholics that you know do the Rosary every day. Not only is there fasting and prayer but there is also a general rule to abstain from anything sexy and violent. So in general the next month of our life will be a generally pure, food scarce version of what we have become accustomed to.

The cook we have that makes our meals is actually Catholic so he still makes us lunch, and a few of the Muslim workers aren’t actually fasting this year; so food is still available. Outside though many restaurants are closed and many of the tea stalls have put up curtains to shield the gossiping eyes on the streets from seeing who is breaking fast. It really is amazing though to see how scarce food has become especially in the village. One on occasion last week we were supposed to have eggs for breakfast yet no one in the entire village was selling eggs that day until later. Normally, people would buy a dozen, keep them in the fridge and when they needed more they would replenish the supply, but because of the unreliable electricity (average power outage in the village – two hours, two times a day) and the cost of a refrigerator, the food supply is typically very sporadic.

Over the past two weeks, we have each fasted one day. I tried fasting the first week and was successful save the one cup of coffee that saved the students lives, as you all know, Jordan without coffee is a beast to be avoided. I didn’t think it was too bad and would like to try a full fast on a day off, but when we had Iftar, the large pre-dinner snack at sunset, I was a happy man. Clark experienced his first fast about a week later when we had hortal. He made it without even a cup of coffee, but we all stayed away from him, because he gives the notorious Austin/Omera looks and Clark with low blood sugar is just as bad as me without coffee. It is customary to break your Ramadan fast with dates. Many nights Clark and I join that day’s fasters for Iftar, as usually this is a communal meal, but at Panigram for some reason, individual plates are created. As we have been told, this is unlike any experience anybody has ever had. We have dates, a few pieces of mango or pineapple, chop (some mashed potato patties that have been deep fried), piaji/bora (lentil paste with onion and deep fried), Jalopi (funnel cake soaked in simple syrup), cucumber, jal sola (kind of like garbanzo beans mixed with spices and onion), morgi (puffed rice), sometimes french fries or eggplant wontons, and tang. It’s a lot of simple sugar, carbs, and fat; but man does it taste great. Dinner usually follows about 2 hours later so we end up eating at about 9:00p. This past week we have had hortal due to the verdicts being released from the International War Tribunals that were setup to bring justice after the Independence War in the 1970’s and the organic farming plot was being put on hold.

Even though the last two weeks have been racked with hortal, Panigram has still been able to carry on with PAE (Panigram Apprenticeship Experience). Two weekends ago Panigram hosted three travelers, two guys hailing from Switzerland and one lady from Vietnam. They boys, Edi and Stephan, had just finished a three month internship in India centered on hospitality, while Janice works in the finance sector in Singapore. Just before visiting us they spent a full day in Dhaka and welcomed the pastoral relaxation surrounding Panigram. We had a jam packed few days where the guests were able to participate in a wide variety of activities.

All three were quite interested in construction techniques here at Panigram and really got into mud brick construction. They even were interested in the preparation of the mud mortar and insisted on carrying some of the mud on their heads like the locals do. Janice even tried driving the flat bed tricycle that is used to carry the mud bricks.

The guests were very lucky this week when they toured the pottery village as one of the potters decided to show them how different types of jars are made. During the rainy season pottery making all but stops as the rain generally doesn’t allow the finished product to dry properly. Everyone was thoroughly amazed at how fast one of the villagers was able to make five jars and a money bank, it only took him about 15 min.

On the second day, again the PAE guests were invited back to the pottery village to watch a cow milking demonstration, and Janice even got a few squirts out herself. Clark tried and wasn’t so successful. He blamed it on going last. After the cow milking the guests were all invited to a local villager’s house to have a traditional Bangladeshi meal served on banana leaf plates. Edi, Stephan, and Janice really enjoyed this, and one of the little girls in the village even brought Janice flowers. It was a fantastic end to the boy’s trip, and Janice really enjoyed interacting with the locals. PAE is always such a great adventure, SO WE THOUGHT… This past weekend, we had the opposite experience. After a weeklong hortal, we were anxious to get out and interact with people. Not only were we having 4 PAE guests for the weekend, but we were having Mr. Roqib and two of his colleagues come to site to start making plans for the bio-gas generator that will be used to power the kitchen. The PAE guests all arrived on Thursday night and were all originally from Spain. They have all been living in Dhaka for some time now and one would think that they have become accustomed to the ways of the Bangladeshis. This was not so.

Mr. Roqib’s visit went flawlessly. It was not only productive, but informative and a lot of fun. Mr. Roqib, explained each and every step along the way to us and even provided us with information for ways to possibly implement a biogas generator at Svecia or in Guatemala at the Catamaran Island Resort. We definitely made a good friend and invaluable contact. Our friendship was cemented when we were all sitting around the office table and the monsoon came rushing in. Instantly, for the first time in over a week it started to rain. Roqib had just finished telling us about his former intern from France who loved the rain and toward the end of her internship experienced a sudden downpour while they were out on a project. She began to swing around and dance in the rain. (Just as I am writing this, the infamous monsoon, just arrived. It just got very dark, the temp dropped below 80 for the first time all trip and rain!) While Roqib’s intern was out on site, the villagers started to join her and Roqib couldn’t resist and joined in with her. The timing couldn’t have been better when the monsoon arrived and Roqib suggested that we should all go dance in the rain. Clark and Roqib spent the next 15 minutes playing in the rain and mud while I just looked on. I did not participate, because for the first time that day I had finally been dry. I wasn’t wet from rain all day, but from sweat. I was not about to go voluntarily get drenched again. Roqib eventually finished his work and spent the rest of the weekend tagging along with the PAE guests and participated in the activities we had planned. For as good as Roqib’s trip was, it was hard to believe how bad the Spanish ladies’ trip went.

The ladies were the most culturally insensitive people we have met yet. They gave all Westerner’s a bad name. They were demanding, rude, insensitive, and at times verbally abusive to the staff at Panigram. Remember guys, Panigram is a construction site. PAE is an apprenticeship experience, which is very clear about the condition of the resort and the program that is established. These Spanish ladies obviously came with the intention of going on an all expenses paid vacation to a 5 star resort. We knew they were going to be a handful when they demanded that meals be prepared to the Spanish timetable and not the Bangla timetable. We all know that the Spanish are more relaxed and enjoy their meals at later times, so we made it happen without a fuss. PAE is used to breakfast at 8, lunch at 1, dinner at 7. It gets dark by 7:30 and people are asleep by 9. Having a request for dinner at 9 is a really demanding on these poor Banglas who have been fasting all day in 110-115 degree weather.

PAE, as you have learned, is filled with a lot of activities that are hands on and has to do with the local village and village life. The women refused to participate in the set activities because they did not like that wherever they went a crowd gathered (just like in those National Geographic documentaries, the whole village does come out to stare and sometimes interact with the bedeshis). They didn’t feel comfortable. I don’t know where in Dhaka that they are living where this doesn’t happen, but from our experience, this happens everywhere around here. They refused to learn how to make pottery because they didn’t want to interrupt the man’s business day. They wanted the pottery making materials brought to their bungalow. They didn’t like the village experience because, “we can go anywhere in Bangladesh and see this.”  The directors of the PAE program went above and beyond and tried to accommodate these women, but nothing they did was good enough. I stepped in on Friday morning when I heard what was going on and organized an itinerary based off of what they wanted to do. We made all of the plans and when it came to the time to do these activities, they changed their minds and refused to participate. It would be one thing to have Panigram change plans if it was all internal, but it is not, all of the activities include villagers or families in the village. They really interrupted families’ lives this weekend. To finish up their experience, they demanded a 1/3 discount. Clark was asked to witness the interaction between the women and the directors in order to “shame” them. This didn’t work. The women were so rude and verbally abusive that Clark came away literally shaking in anger. Thankfully, they are gone now and we can move on, but what a horrible experience and a complete 180 from the experiences of the European ambassador’s wife and sister a couple weeks ago and that of Edi, Stefan and Janice’s visit the week prior. Same program, completely different outcomes. Oh, and as we found out yesterday, they stole an antique lock and key. Those women really were something else.

Other than PAE the last two weekends, hortal has really interrupted our daily lives. No English classes, no farming or advancement of plans, we have just been stuck inside reading and playing cards. Every night we rush outside to grab a Coke, Sprite, or go to Café de Light to get ice cream, just so we can get out of the house.

This past week we had two great experiences. First, we made a trip back to the fair and brought along Savaila and Jeana. Savaila was extremely excited when she saw the Pakistani Pavilion. Within minutes she made friends and the next thing we knew, Clark and I were being summoned to the Pakistani tent. We arrived a few minutes later and were warmly greeted. We entered and were told that we had been invited to iftar with them. The pavilion closed up shop and we were asked to sit behind the tables where we were served an assortment of fruits and vegetables and all of the traditional iftar foods. We were introduced to a new drink, it was fruit syrup mixed with milk, water, and sugar. It was delicious!  Then to mix things up, half way through, 7up was added. Who could have guessed a milk drink and 7up would be good? We sat around and chatted and made friends with everybody and after we were all given gifts. It truly was a great surprise and experience.

Also this week, we celebrated Tazul’s (Ta-jewel)26th birthday. Tazul is one of my M6 students who has become a good friend. We go to tea regularly after class or we go back to his house to meet/interact with his family. Most of his family doesn’t speak English, so it is a lot of charades. Anyway, Clark and I bought him a T-shirt which we found that said Pipeline, California and new soccer shorts. Tazul is the captain of his village’s soccer team, which just won their “tri-sectional” championship a couple weeks back. Nazmeen also got in on the celebration and bought Tazul a birthday cake. We invited Tazul to our house in Jessore to have lunch with us since he isn’t fasting. After lunch we surprised him with the cake and gifts. It was his first birthday cake, first birthday song, and first gifts he has ever received. From what we have learned, birthdays really aren’t that big in the Muslim religion to begin with, but in Bangladesh, where people are living day to day, a birthday is just like any other day. For the first time since meeting Tazul, he was speechless. He had no idea how to react. At first, we weren’t too sure if we committed some awful cultural faux pas. Tazul literally sat at the table for 5 minutes without speaking a word, looking confused, contemplative, and generally aloof. He got out his phone and started fidgeting.  Even Nazmeen didn’t know what to think. It turned out that he was texting me thank you and how honored he was to spend his birthday with us. Phew!! He just couldn’t verbalize his thoughts. It was a moment I will remember the rest of my life.

Ok, sorry for the long post, but two weeks leads to a lot of experiences. To finish off this blog, here are some interesting facts/things we have learned thus far.

Starting a new portion to the blog every week: Interesting facts/things for the week

In Bangladesh they sell rope by the kilogram not by the meter.
In Bangladesh all food has bones, because bones add flavor.
In Bangladesh you do not eat pineapple after drinking milk.
In Bangladesh you do not drink water after eating fruit, but you must drink at least a liter after having jackfruit.


It was a relatively quite week here in Asia. While our friends back home feasted on bbq and gathered together to watch fireworks we were busy sweating. Don’t you fret none, we had our own 4th of July celebration here but we had to wait until the 5th. It was a great party we hosted and we even got our hands on some hooch. Jordan has the misfortune of having the first sickness of the trip, therefore, delaying our celebration one day so he could partake. All I can say is thank you doctors at home for prescribing us a prophylactic dose of Ciprofloxacin as it kept Jordan from being flown to Dhaka to see the doctor. Therefore, I am reminded of a Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon in naming this week’s theme; In sickness or in health, OR, A hooch a day keeps the doctor away.

As many of you have herd us complain about the lack of libations, hooch is well, hooch here. According to the all and mighty Miriam-Webster the definition is: Hooch (n) – slang: alcoholic liquor especially when inferior or illicitly made or obtained. What I can’t tell you is where we obtained this “wonderful” social lubricant, what I can tell you is that “wonderful” is to be said as dry and sarcastically as you can muster; preferably with a face indicating extreme disgust. Jordan and an unnamed party went off to the far reaches of downtown Jessore, to an alley comprising of about five shops. Within one of these shops was a legitimate speak-easy where you were invited back to explore a whole shelf of local spirits. You have your selection of Vodka, Whiskey, Gin, or Rum. All are made in Bangladesh with pride, ahemm ahemm. The rum was called Carew’s Rosa Rum and each of the forms of Carew’s come in the exact same 750 mL plastic bottle. Jordan opted for the rum as it paired best with our various fruits and sodas we have available to us (Pineapple, Coke, and Sprite). In addition to this fine batch of molasses derived ethanol he procured three beers. For all of my Svecia friends, these beers made BEAST taste like a Summer Shandy on a hot lake day. For the non-Svecia crowd, a cold 5% beer in a dry country on a 100 degree day never tasted so good. Jordan, Savaila, and I went back the next day to pick up a few more brewskies to have at our party and let me tell you Friday is like Sunday in a small Midwestern town, nothing is open. When some of the locals saw three Badeshi stop where the speakeasy was they came over to assist. Now let me preface before I continue, Alcohol is not illegal here for foreigners, for the devout 80% of the country however, it is, so what I am about to tell you is not as bad as it sounds but never the less I did feel a little scummy as we walked away. These two men recognized Jordan and said, “Ahh, you are back,” Jordan told them three beers, and gave them Tk 500. Off they went and returned in three minutes with a small bag with three ice cold beers (Beshi tanda beer) and off we went. I had the pleasure of stuffing them in my pack and had a mini air conditioner on my back on the way home.

For our Fourth of July dinner we had chicken tacos, Kraft mac & cheese, garlic mashed potatoes, chips, fruit salad and cookies. Man, what a feast. It cost us an arm and a leg in Bangla prices but we were able to throw the whole feast together for about Tk3,000 or $35 (including alcohol) for 8 people. We even had the pleasure of picking our chickens from the cage. We were fully expecting to take the chickens home alive but the nice men at the meat market went ahead and did the deed for us. I was fully prepared for this to be my last chicken meal but surprisingly watching the slaughter of my dinner wasn’t as scarring as I had expected. Thanks dad for preparing me for the running of the body with your stories from Aunt Triva’s farm when you were a kid. The kicking after the decapitation was odd, but didn’t last too long, and then once it had stopped the bird was skinned, dressed, and packaged in about 2 min. Talk about fresh meat. It wasn’t as delicious as expected, then again the idea of a perfectly cooked chicken here is a little on the dangerous side, I will opt for overcooked meat any day looking at the sanitation conditions. It’s really easy to not think about where you food comes from and how it’s treated. Looking at the chickens at market really makes me want to start eating cage free, organic chicken when I get home. Even though its way more costly, I think I have been swayed. Even though they are there for us to eat, it doesn’t mean their life should suck while they’re living. Food for thought, ha get it.

So as I had said before we had to delay our festivities a day. Jordan started feeling ill on Monday, by Tuesday he had a fever and was only awake to go to the bathroom and drink water. Due to the sanitation in this country life threatening diseases can strike in a matter of hours. Whenever someone starts to feel under the weather, we are supposed to let the boss know, if we aren’t better the next day we are flown to Dhaka to go to a proper hospital. They have hospitals here in town but they are not where you want to be if something goes wrong. They serve their purpose if you have the sniffles or need a prescription but this country has diseases that haven’t been in the US in almost 100 years. Jordan started his Ciprofloxacin right away and our mini-pharmacy I brought will helped lessen his symptoms. His fever broke Tuesday night, and the worst of the danger had passed. The next day the bosses got together and determined he didn’t need to go to Dhaka but the local hospital for some extra drugs would suffice. As a foreigner you are given preferential treatment wherever you go, this holds true in the hospitals too. As soon as he walked in the door he was ushered to a room where a doctor promptly attended him. There are no fancy culture labs or quick tests here, the doctors have an intuition that is quite efficient and strangely accurate at the same time. All Jordan had to do was stick out his tongue and the doctor said, “oh good, you’re ok, you just need some simple meds,” wrote a script for an anti-ulcer drug (antibiotic), more cipro, and a anti-protozoal in case it was Giardia or cryptosporidium. Within 24 hours he was back to his normal self. And in 36 hours was complaining about the fact he still had to eat rice and green banana mash with salt and sugar. I felt bad and decided he needed a little protein so I sneaked him some liver from my curry (I sure wasn’t going to eat it and neither did Jordan). So now he’s back to normal and done with his meds. Crisis averted.

So on a totally different note. The organic farming has movement! This week Savaila and I got wrist deep in 70 lbs of cow manure and made some awesomely stinky compost. We have to turn it every 3 days, and I may start turning it every other day as it’s kind of stinky and it shouldn’t be. In addition to making compost Savaila and I mapped out our organic plots this week. We had to talk to the landscape architect, Rajesh, and the original plan will have to be meshed with Rajesh’s, but it should work perfectly. The plots are next to the river and are the perfect area for what we want to do. Not only that, but the land is completely virgin so we will get to use a cow plow to till the soil! This coming weekend we have Panigram Aprenticship Experience (PAE) guests. These are people that come to stay at the resort and help do tasks while they are here. This weekend I am going to have them make compost, help prep a test plot, help till the field, and collect cow urine to make fertilizer with. I’m am totally looking forward to watching 8 people roam about a herd of cows all waiting for one to pee and then watching as they try to catch as much as they can in a bucket. Should make for quite a video. Kristin has put me in charge of coordinating with Huda various activities for the guests to do so I should be quite busy this coming weekend.

While sitting around after everyone had left the fifth of July celebration Nazmeen, Jordan, and I were solving the problems of Bangladesh. We were all able to really open up and voice our frustrations, concerns, and wants as it was just the three of us. Jordan was feeling a little underutilized and between Nazmeen and Jordan they were able to hash out a plan to make the English classes more efficient; I had hit a wall 30 minutes prior and was pulling a Bangla and staring at a wall. Jordan is going to take one of my assistants, Jeena, to a small village close by and document the daily life of the villagers. This village was set aside by the government for disadvantaged women, and the darn non-disclosure agreement we signed prohibits me from telling you its name, so I will be calling in Village X from now on as that is much easier to say and type. Jordan will be looking at what the people are doing and then be setting up simple lessons to teach the villagers the English translations of what they are doing. Most of these people are not literate so it will be mostly vocal teaching but it will be a great challenge. In addition to this he will be having some of the more advanced students meet him in different locations around the area so they can practice their conversational skills. While most of the students won’t be tour guides it will be immensely helpful for them to be able to express their culture.

In addition to the Village X project, that sounds like either an awesome band name or some diabolical secret plot, Jordan was able to go to a local elementary school this week and sit in on a few classes. The Principal of the school received him and they shared some bananas and sweet toast before he was able to see the classes. One of the students in Jordan’s English classes is a teacher at the school, maybe we can work an organic food lesson in one of these days; although, that will be quite a challenge. The kids seemed to be fascinated by this Badeshi that had come to visit their little classroom. It would be amazing to see what giving these kids some computers would do, the town does have four computers that anyone can use but just think of the potential.

On the food front this week we tried two new fruits and one returning dud fruit. A second chance was given to the Fozlie mango… this one was surprisingly good. Nice and tart with a bright yellow flesh and good citrus notes. So glad this one was better, that first one was just terrible. The new fruits were a local rarity, the Burmese grape (Baccaurea ramiflora), talk about a good find, it tastes like one of those baseball mitt ice creams from the ice cream man when you were a kid. It even has a little of the flavor of the stick in there. They are only around for about two weeks so I plan on eating a bunch while I can and at $1.50 for 2.2 lbs they are a steal. Who knows if I’ll ever have them again so I better eat up. A cool thing we noticed while eating them the seeds turn this awesome shade of blue or purple as you suck on them; almost the same shade as sour grape Jelly Belly’s. The other fruit we tried is Indian Persimmon (Diospyros peregrina), not so great. It had no flavor and let me tell you it was uglier than an ugly carnie at a back country fair. This fruit does have a saving grace though as it’s used extensively in Ayruvedic medicine (Indian herbal medicine). The fruit can be used to treat dysentery, cholera, cures excessive salvation (didn’t know that was a problem), and the stem and bark can be used as an antiprotozoal, antiviral, hypoglycemic. Additionally, the fruit can be rubbed on the bottom of boats and fishing nets to prevent rot. Kinda cool that this terribly tasting fruit actually has a purpose aside from a few groups that eat the leaves in Bangladesh and rural Bengal, India. On a really really cool note, the bark is traditionally used as a cure to Rinderpest. For those of you who don’t know, Rinderpest, or cattle plague, was a terrible disease that would kill 80-90% of cattle during an outbreak that would devastate cattle herds in Asia, Europe, and Africa. It is only the second disease to be eradicated by humans in all of history and that happened just two years ago. The bark of the Indian Persimmon was not responsible for the eradication of Rinderpest but it is cool to know there is a treatment out there that is natural. Yay humans.

Sunday was quite a day. Savaila and I were able to create the boarder of one of our plots and then remove half of the grass. We did this all with a shovel and a hoe, and the land is about 720 sq. feet. Now a sod cutter would have allowed the entire process to be done in 1 hr max, but they don’t even know such technology exists in the world. That paired with the fact they have no leather work gloves means Savaila got her second ever blister yesterday, I got six. The goal is to have one of the plots cleared by PAE this weekend (the Panigram Apprenticeship Experience) so that way they can help mark and clear the other plot. We have some other plans for the weekend but I’ll wait to tell you about them until next weeks, blog.

I was able to try some fish brain on Sunday. Savaila and I had lunch with two of the high ups in the company and we were served a bunch of really cool dishes, a slice of fish, eggplant, bamboo cooked with cinnamon, eggplant innards, and rice. Whenever we eat with Tapon and Moshur (the big wigs) we eat with our hands, I could request a fork but I would be odd man out; besides eating with your hands but it isn’t terrible. The fish head was served in this giant bowl and the big wigs offered it to me first saying it was a delicacy and I can eat anything that’s in it. I politly picked out some neck muscle that looked like the rest of the fish meat but then passed it off to everyone else. As the meal progessed I felt bad that I snubbed their delicacy so I started picking through looking for something gross that I could stomach down. I found what I think was the brain and squished off a sliver. It was this off purple/white/grey color. I showed everyone that I was trying a piece they all laughed and watched intently as I put it in my mouth. It wasn’t terrible, but the texture was kind of squishy and melt-in-you-mouth like. I told them all it wasn’t half bad but the texture was just disturbing. They all laughed.

I was finally able to reconnect with my family this week via Skype. They are in Wisconsin at our family’s summer house called Svecia, and the internet there can be as difficult to deal with as our internet here. For those of you who don’t know my family goes to northern Wisconsin every year to a giant house we all share with the same families year after year. I grew up with all of these people and they are kind of like a second set of family to me. Missing out on the annual vacation has been the hardest part for me while in Bangladesh, the first time I have missed this trip in 26 years. Generally, my family spends two weeks in July up there hanging out on the swimming pier, heading into town to our favorite Midwest small town haunts (St. Vinnie’s thrift store, Moose Jackson Café (only coffee in town worth drinking), Iron Mountain iron mine, etc.) and enjoying the slowdown that comes from surrounding yourself with good friends and low population density. It’s a world apart from what we are all used to, Florence County only has 3,000 people, and “town” is across the state line in Michigan and has maybe 10,000 on a good year. The house was started by seven Swedish families in 1927 and the rooms are generally passed down within families. My family is one of the few, now I’m going to test your recall here, Badeshi families that have ever been voted into the membership. My dad grew up in Chicago and was best friends with two guys who were original decedents when he was a kid and has been going every year since he was 11. Because we are all on vacation and there is upwards of 90 people during Fourth of July week we have two different cooks and a few waitresses from the local area and take our meals together at precisely 7:30-8:30a for breakfast, 12:00-1:00p for lunch (unless it’s Sunday then it’s a 12:30p start), and dinner from 6:00-6:29p (a traditional Svecia dinner is 29 min long, idk, it just is). We do all sorts of fun activities like a rocket boat race, a costume ball, bowling night, a golf tourney, and every Sunday we have church after breakfast where we all sing a few songs listen to a sermon.  I caught them at the perfect time right after Sunday breakfast before they went to church service. Now I am not a church kind of guy, normally I prefer to have my spiritual moments in the woods or by myself but I can appreciate a church service from time to time. Very rarely though do I have spiritual moments when I am in church, but going to church in Wisconsin via Skype was the most comforting church services I have ever experienced. One of the members, Donna, passed away last winter and the sermon was involved her and trusting god. I always enjoy church in Wisconsin, but this one touched my soul, so THANK YOU Tim Walker, you impact people even via phone. Never before have I felt the comfort that people talk about involving their church, but now I understand. That’s cool.

Anyway we have a very very busy week ahead. Wish us luck.

Until next week.


Hey all, I thought that since today is Hortal, sorry I have been mis-spelling hartal until this week when I found out the Bangla can’t pronounce some letters and its pronounced Har-tal. SMH (that’s for you Alex and Rochelle). As I promised here is a list of some common words we have been getting to know while we are here. Some basic rules on pronunciation, every time you see a letter S you pronounce it sh. There are four different ways to pronounce the letter D and T, and there are a total of 49 letters, we think, its hard to draw a line. The script looks like Arabic and Mandarin mixed together, it’s quite beautiful.
This is an example of a good portion of the letters and conjuncts in the Bangali language. There are many more characters, well over 100 that combine multiple letters into one. Its daunting enough to learn the pronunciations let alone ways to pronounce the letter "D" four different ways by altering your tongue position slightly.
Colors aren’t too bad, they use the color green and red a lot to describe different foods like lal shak is red spinach (even though it isn’t spinach at all its amaranth, same family but still) and shobuj kola for green banana.
Bright Green




The days of the week are a little off especially Thursday. The work week here is six days Saturday-Thursday as Friday is the Muslim holy day. Some people in really good jobs get Saturday off too but it’s kind of rare. Every Friday we get our housekeeper flowers as she is Muslim and has to work, we call them flower Fridays or Fol (pronounced fool) Shokrobar in Bangla; she gets the biggest smile.
Brioshpoti bar 
Bree-osh-poe-t bar 
Food is interesting, they eat very few raw fruits and veggies as you can get really sick if you don’t sanitize them properly, refer to the poo post a few weeks back. Here is a list of common fruits and veggies. Something we have been becoming aware of is the use of Formalin in fruits to preserve them. Formalin is a derivative of formaldehyde. It’s a common practice in Asia to use small amounts to help the fruits stay fresh on their way to market as refrigeration is a rare and unreliable thing here. When used in larger quantities (there is not FDA to regulate food safety here) it can cause extreme sickness, liver failure, and death. There was a big problem a few years ago and a few people were tried and put to death actually to make an example. It wasn’t an issue any more until this year when in Dhaka there was a terrible formalin poisoning event where a bunch of people became violently ill from eating lychees and other fruits loaded with the stuff. Anyway be glad you are in the states and don’t have to think twice about how your food is preserved, I’ll take food grade wax any day. BTW the veggie above is called cicinga or snake gourd in English, its awesome.
Indian Spinach 
Green Bean
Shobuj Shak 
Show-boo-j Sh-aak 


Some helpful phrases we have come to know and love. The bangle have no use for pleasantries, so you don’t say, “May I please have a cup of coffee,” you say, “I require coffee.” It’s really odd and I find myself saying thank you whenever we leave a store only to have the shop keeper look at me like I’m even more of a bedeshi (not from this country, or as I like to think of it, outlander).
How much? 
I require coffee/tea 
What is your name 
My name is ____
Cold/hot water 
Very hot water 
lukewarm water 
Hello (Hindu) 
Hello (Muslim) 
Thank you 
I don’t understand 
I don’t need  
Dom koto 
Coffee/ch lagbe
Apnar nam ki 
Apni nam ____
Tanda/gorum pani 
Beshi gorum pani 
Com gorum pani 
Assalam aleikum 
Bhuji na 
Lagbe na 

 As-a-lam wal-lie-kum 
 Bu-gee na 
 Log-bay na 
The numbers for some reason are proving to be quite a challenge for some reason. The most interesting thing is that there is some odd pattern to number names. In English it’s just the 10’s place + the one’s place. Here the numbers follow a rough pattern, for example, 29, 39, 49, 59 are unotrish, unochollish, unoponchash, unoshayt; however, 99 isn’t part of that pattern it’s not unoeksho like the rest of the _9’s but rather its niranobboi. Go figure.