Saturday, January 28, 2012

Comedy Club in Dhaka?? Who knew?

Tonight Andy I went out with two other couples to see some stand up comedy in Dhaka.  The man that was the feature comedian came from Chicago (where I am from) and did some great and well needed comedy for a great mix of folks at a comedy club here!  I was not really sure what to expect, but it was indeed hilarious and just what all of us needed.  He was on a tour that was sponsered by the State Department from the little that I read and heard about it.  He had been all over India doing his thing and then made it over to see us!  The crowd was a mix of expats and local Bangladeshis.  I highly recommend that if you get a chance to see him wherever he happens to be--mostly Chicago area, that you go see him.  Here is his page:

One of our friends that we went out with made a great observation about our group that was going out.  This time last year, minus a week, we were all together watching the Superbowl in Silver Spring, MD.  How awesome is that?  We have friends that have stuck together and have formed a lasting bond.  It is what makes this lifestyle so wonderful.  We also have made great friends that are living in our building that makes it really feel like we are living in a college dorm.  We share drinks, dinners, playdates, and meet at the bus stop twice a day.

I have been on a break from my teaching online and it has been really wonderful.  My back problems have been nearly gone since I am not sitting at my computer all the time.  I am feeling like I can really enjoy living here more and more just by having some time off to go out and about more.  I have intended to get caught up and finish some other writing projects that need editing so I can get paid, but I have one more week left of break.  I will give it the old "cram it all in at the last minute" try.

Andy has been out of town a lot lately and he has gotten to see a lot of Bangladesh while he was out visiting project sites.  He also leaves tomorrow for Chittagong, which is an area to the southeast for a whole week.  He is a part of something called "America Week" and I am honestly not really sure what that entails.

Here is what happened when he finally came home from visiting Jessore and Rajshahi last week in the first hour.  Kids had just gotten home from school and he had just gotten home from an as usual crazy, stressful 8 hour drive.

Some very exciting news is that we will be going to Sri Lanka for the kids and our Spring Break and are thrilled.  I haven't left Dhaka or actually our "diplomatic enclave" area since we got here in December.  It gives us something to look forward to, because you really are never alone here.  Just going to the park is different.  We get followed and stared at and asked questions constantly.  The people are well meaning, but it is not why we really go to a park.  There are the Expat clubs for us to go to, but you know you do the same thing, and eat off the same menu and that too gets old.  So, a new place with a beach and some peace and fresh air is sounding so awesome.  Andy will also get to go to Budapest for training in March, and I am totally jealous!

Tomorrow our HHE shipment (comes by boat and comes later than the UAB, which came by air) arrives, which is usually a big one and I am not sure what all is coming other than a few exciting things:  a pool/ping pong table, kids toys, cuisinart, and kitchenaid mixer. about a month the car that we bought sight unseen from Japan arrives!!! 

Here are some pictures of Andy's adventures out of Dhaka to Jessore and Rajshahim.

                                                Above--on a ferry crossing a river.

                                             The ferry, the Keramat Ali.

                                             Man on the ferry.

                                         Nope, don't need to use the bathroom thank you.
                                            View from hotel room in Jessore.

                                                 Driving here, trucks coming at you, always.

                                                More driving.
                                       Group of men happy to get their picture taken, maybe.
                                        Not uncommon, glass being hauled on a rickshaw.
                 There's the glass in the front, and some kids behind them on their own rickshaw.
                                              Road construction, by HAND!
                                         Another truck playing chicken.
                                        His hotel was actually called Nice Hotel in Rajshahim.
                                        Lovely bathroom with a lovely polka dot curtain.

                                            Just moving my cattle.
                                         Child moving his cattle.
                                           Not sure, but not odd to see.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sour Cream

Yes, I know this is a strange title for a post, but this is something that has made me very happy today and kind of is a way for me to convey what it has been like a little in terms of little things that make me happy these days.

Since we arrived we have had all sorts of experiences buying food.  There are several options for us as Americans and where we live.  We are able to go to the commissary and buy American foods that we have become used to.  To honest, it is hard to shop there because they have no fresh veggies and most of what you get is expired.  It has to be shipped by boat and is travelling half way around the world, so I don't get bothered by it.  Also, you cannot be picky, even though they do have a great assortment of some things that are more natural-ish.  They are way too expensive though for me to swallow.  For instance, an Amy's pizza is 6 or 7 dollars.  I wouldn't even buy it in the U.S. for 4 or 5 so I don't feel like I am missing out when I get the Tony's instead for less than 2 bucks.

We have a housekeeper who also cooks and babysits for us occasionally.  I have really enjoyed having her cook and shop for us.  She knows where to go and what things are supposed to cost.  I felt like going to the market the other day to check out the produce for the heck of it.  MY LORD.  It is the most annoying experience.  The vendors are shouting constantly at me "Madam, madam, madam" do you want ___________? or I have ____________.  Come here and buy _____________.  Too much for me to handle.  I am such a slow shopper, where I need to check it all out and figure out what the best deal is and, to be quite honest, I suck at haggling.  I don't want 20 men yelling at me in sort of English while I shop.

So...back to the title.  I have had a heck of a time finding sour cream and yogurt that is decent.  There is absolutely no sour cream at the local stores that I have checked out and the yogurt is outrageous if it is decent yogurt.  For example, I bought a six pack at a local market of the little flavored ones similar to yo-baby for 5 dollars.  Then, there is some at the commissary and it is not going to expire for a year, so I figure it is probably not worth buying.  They finally had sour cream at the commissary that was of course expired, but I figured, hey it's sour cream, how bad can it be.  Well it was bad.  The texture was horrible and it was too expired. I tried to console myself with the fact that it was probably frozen and that was why the texture was so off putting, but I couldn't do it for more than one meal.  I only wasted a few bucks, but had gotten my hopes up.  Apparently I can add "sour cream addiction" to my growing list. 

The solution to the yogurt problem was to order a yogurt maker from amazon and I am awaiting its arrival in a couple of weeks or maybe month. 

Sour cream, I probably could make myself, but that is surely not as easy.  I have made ricotta before just with milk and vinegar, but there are probably some different cultures I would need to have for the sour cream to work out just right.  I think I actually had sour cream starter when I made goat cheeses back in Missouri, but I don't think they would ship here since they were on ice.

I finally found this place that is called the "German Butcher".  Why I say "found" is that it just is a room in the first floor of a residential apartment building with absolutely no advertising.  You really had to know where to look.  We had an address, but still weren't quite sure where it was.  Once you had that it really wasn't that hard to find, but you really need to know the exact address.  I went there last week to buy some lunch meat that has been really good--salami, ham, and chicken slices.  I was asking about sour cream because he had a sign up for it, but you have to buy it by the liter.  Plus the guy is super intimidating.  A true gem of a German crabby pants. 

I needed sour cream today and could eat it everyday with chips and salsa, so I made it a point to get there today.  There was a local Bangladeshi man working and a maybe Chinese? lady taking money.  No crabby German in the store, and he was outside visiting with someone.  They were so nice and the lady was so sweet to the kids.  I paid my ten dollars for my liter of sour cream and I couldn't be happier.  It truly is the small things that matter.  We had enchiladas tonight and I can't wait to eat some chips and salsa with sour cream!