Yesterday was the closet I have come to dieing! We were driving back from out second focus group in a micro (9 seater van), so we were on village roads. Like I have said there isnt a minute that passes when you cant see at least 100 people on the road or in the fields in front of you. So anyway as there are no seat belts, normally just have to go with it and trust that the driver is experienced enough to get you from A to B safely. We were driving along pretty fast when a farmer leading three cows on the side of the road had one get scared by our relatively big car coming past and it ran out in front of us. The driver slammed on his breaks and we all went flying forwards. (We managed to stop within a few cm of the cow, thank god!) I have a large bruise on my leg but other than that it was fine. However the staff who I was with all fussed over me like always. 'Are you okay? Are you okay? Are you scared? Sorry stupid cow, stupid farmer. Sorry sorry sorry.' I then tried to explain that I had been in a car crash at home with a cow so it was kinda scary but they just kept fussing over me so I gave up.
Never ever in your life will you feel like such royalty as to when you are in Bangladesh. If I walk into a room, someone will stand up and give me their seat, I have my own drinking water while everyone else has tap water, I am not allowed out of the building unless I have a chaperone, someone has to stay in the building with me at night for my 'security', even though there is already two guards downstairs at the gates every night! So really I think I have come to Bangladesh to be a royal celebrity for seven weeks. Just call me Kate Middleton!
My research is going very well.....I think. Have completed two focus groups already. The second one going much better than the first. My target group is ethnic minorities in the Pirganj area, who are considered as 'ultra poor'. They have houses made of clay but take such pride in them painting them in beautiful patterns. The women I have met so far have been very friendly, but quite shy, but always very appreciative! When we arrive in the villages children will crowed around and run and get more friends to come and look at 'this strange white lady'. Men and elders will also come to stare, and literally do they stare. It is not considered rude to stare in Bangla.
The starring I am getting used to and don't actually mind, however, I can not get used to the hocking and spitting! ewwwww Thank goodness I am rich enough to not have to walk around in bear feet and stand on peoples spit all over the ground. Apparently it is not considered rude to burp out loud in any situation, as people to it all the time!
10 seed method in focus group
Children at village school who all ran over to look at me
I am slowly learning sayings in Bangla. But when I try to say things most people find it quite funny as I say everything with a NZ accent. I have tried to explain that NZers are called Kiwis and I have a 'Kiwi accent'...But Im not quite sure they knew what I meant.
I have learnt Doh-no-bad is thank you, Didi is sister (Everyone calls me Moniek-didi), To-mar-nam-ke? is what is your name?, dim is egg, Assalam walekum means peace be with you and is the respectful way to say hello, Acha is okay.
Today a new ADP manager came and the old ADP manager is leaving to go and work in Dhaka as her daughters live there. We had a Welcoming/leaving ceremony this afternoon. We were also invited to the neighbors house (They own the property that the WV office is in) for lunch today. The table was just set for four of us (Old ADP manager, New ADP manager, Divisional director and me of course because I am royalty) and the hosts (husband and wife) hovered around the table trying to feed us more and more! There was 10 different dish's for lunch! and then dessert! (like creamed rice but fresh and waaaaaay better than the canned stuff at home) Im pretty sure I am going to put on 10kg after 6 weeks eating in Bangladesh. Hahaha and they say Bangladesh suffers from malnutrition............ No once again it is the Bangladesh culture to show soooo much hospitality to their guests. I asked about it at lunch and Chandan (divisional director) said that guests, and especially those from out of country are thought of like God...haha so I have now gone from being Kate Middleton to being GOD!
Chandan is coming back to Pirganj to pick me up and take me to Dhaka tomorrow. It is a long weekend so I asked if I could possibly go back, and of course it was arranged. I need to look up if there are any tourist sights I could look at or do in Dhaka.....Although I kind of doubt it. I have also herd that there are political rally's happening in Dhaka at the moment so I will have to be careful. I will stay with an Aussie girl from the national office, so I am sure all will be fine
I am really missing being able to talk in normal English speed and not having to think of what easy words I can use to explain myself. So will be good to be around some English speaking people for a few days.
World Vision Pirganj office