So Chandon, the divisional director was nice enough to invite me to Dinajpour with him for the weekend.
It was a two hour drive and we arrived at about 8pm. I was given a room in the ADP so that was nice, there was also a TV which was pretty exciting!
Anyway on Friday morning we drive about an hour to a hindu temple.
We walked around for a while and I took some photos / had people talking photos of me both on the sly and asking me to pose with them.Its funny people will try to take a photo on the sly on their phone, but it is still so obvious, they follow you with there phone in there hand and their arm stretched out as far as possible. Also sometimes someone will ask to take a photo of you and then shove there camera about 5cm from your face and take it, so I highly doubt they actually got a nice memorable photo of that strange white foreigner.
We were about to leave the temple when a film crew arrived and asked if I could do an interview with them...so I had to stand there with a huge crowd of Bangladeshi's who were already in a circle around me and then say a little speach about why the temple should receive more money so it can be preserved as a visitor spot. However once I had finished the man told me that the sound had not worked and I had to try and do it all over again! Nightmare! Owell, apparently I will be broadcasted on not just one, but TWO TV stations. Officially famous!.....in Bangladesh.
We then drove back to Dinagpour city and had lunch at a Chinese restaurant. Apparently there are alot of Chinese food places throughout Bangladesh due to ethnic migrations from China last century. This restaurant was so weird though. It was completely dark and down one end of the restaurant there was a kinda garden sculpture lit with different colored lights, it kinda looked Jurassic Park like though. I asked and apparently all restaurants are decorated like this.....I cant begin to imagian why they would think this creates a pleasant atmosphere.
After lunch we drove to a large lake which was in a national park area. There is a legand that hundreds of years ago that area was going through a dry famine, until one day the king had a dream that if he sacrificed his only son's life in this particular spot water would come and he would save his people. So he woke up and slaughtered his son and there has been this large lake there ever since. It is a very popular place for groups, families, young people, newly weds etc to come and spend the day. They will set up colorful cloth walls, blast loud music, cook some food and have a Bangladeshi picnic all day at the lake. Imagian spending you honeymoon at some random lake in the middle of the countryside only a few hours drive away. We are soo soo lucky to have all the amazingly beautiful lakes, river, forests, parks, beaches, mountains etc in NZ. Yet we are even more lucky that we have the opportunity and money to travel to other countries for a week or two honeymoon after we get married.
At one end of the lake sitting on a rickshaw van
A group of girls who asked me to have a photo with them. We had a couple of group shots then I had to be take one with each individual girl and then the baby was shoved in my arms to also have a photo and then just in case they didnt have enough, a few more photos taken on their cell phones which they shoved right in my face.
I was also asked by a boy (who was a university student) if he could take a photo of me with his father. He had brought his father from the village he lives in to the lake for the day as he had never seen it. This made me feel quite sad about how small some peoples worlds are.
The next day we drove for three hours to a Budist monument which was really cool. Along our drive we passed the border with India (woohooo I have seen indian soil!) Chandon was explaining to me that WV works in a village near the border and the issues they are working with such as people trafficking, AIDS, prostitution, illegal trade and smuggling. They explained that it is a very dangerous place to be and if the customs people who work on the border find someone illegally from india they will just shot them and kill them! And vice versa, so there is alot of conflict along the boarder.
We had come to this budist monument for a picnic with the volunteers from an ADP. The volunteers have a picnic organized once a year for them, so its kinda like a staff Christmas party. I have to give a speech. Ofcorse! (I think my public speaking will have improved by the time I leave Bangladesh!) to try and inspire the people there to continue volunteering for WV.
Me with monument in background.
Spot the foreigner! -----(Most of the people who attended the picnic)
While we were waiting for lunch to be served there was some performances. This is when I realised that alot of the people at the picnic were either gay or transvestites. I found this quite shocking as I know that is illegal to have same sex relationships in Bangladesh. Chandon explained to me that these people are outcasts in Bangladesh and a way that they have learnt to earn a livelihood is to go into near by villages, attack, terrorize and curse mothers and their babies and then demand food or money from the father in order for them to leave them alone and remove the curse. WV offers them roles as volunteers to offer them an alternative way to support themselves and help them fit back into society.
BTW that is men dressed up as women on stage doing a dance and singing Bangla pop songs
Here is a picture from my 4th focus group discussion I held last week.
And here are some children playing football outside a classroom that we also held a FGD at. The children were sooooo tiny. It was a little heartbreaking. I gave one a half packet of biscuits and she grabbed it off me, ran away and gobbled them all up.
Here is a shot down the main street of the village I am staying in