Bangladesh – Saturday, February 16, 2013 – Kushtia
Saturday is a half school day devoted to activities. With Sports Day coming up the next day there was a lot of emphasis on practicing for the races. We had arranged with grandson Jay to Skype with the older students. Jay described his school day and the subjects he studies. He also told about his activities, particularly Ultimate Frisbee, a soccer-like game, that he plays. The students asked a few questions. Fun was had by all. Deni noted that Jay’s all-girl fan club was front and center and starring at him with rapt attention. The rest of the morning the older students were pretty much left to their own devices with no teachers present in their rooms. A couple of the students were painting with their watercolors, a few were conversing. But the others were rattling around with little to do. Deni read a story to a few of the boys who had asked, “Please miss, a story?” I had my laptop there so I worked with some of them to send an email to Jay thanking him for talking with us. One of the 8th graders who does HTML Web programming at home showed us a few of the pages he’s created including his own Web site. I put him in contact with Jay’s father, Jim, who is a Web programmer. In response to a question about where we live we had a geography lesson. Then Ariyan, a 6th grader, jumped in and showed us where he lived in the UK. Ariyan can use Google Street View more easily than I can. For the gamers of the group I brought out Angry Birds and MotoCross on my tablet. It was hard to pull them away from the tablet at the end of the session. Next Saturday we’ll be more prepared and have some more organized activities for the students. The other teachers will hopefully be more available since they won’t be concentrating on Sports Day by then.
In the afternoon we put on our best clothes and went with Alo, Moni, and Maisha to Maisha’s friend, Aungti’s sister’s wedding celebration. It was the last of the series of four celebrations that comprise the traditional Muslim wedding here. The actual ceremony was the day before – today’s celebration was the reception. Hundreds of people were seated in waves for a traditional Bengali meal of rice, separate curries of goat meat, beef, and vegetables, a salad of sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, hardboiled egg, and sweet yoghurt to finish. It was much like the feeding frenzy at the circumcision celebration we went to last week. We joined in by eating with our right hands though we were offered silverware. Everyone got a kick out of that. The meal is preceded and finished by hand washing. The rest of the time was spent posing for pictures with the bride and groom and many of the guests. We were introduced to many of the bride’s family members. Bengali families tend to be large, so there were a lot of relatives in attendance. As you may know I love seeing the fabrics. The Bengali women really go for color and “shiny” as Deni puts it. Many of the women wore gold earrings, necklaces, and bracelets – purportedly true gold, not costume jewelry. The bride and groom’s families are well educated. So the attendees were middle and upper middle class families who can afford gold jewelry.
Saturday night we attended the finale for the badminton tournament. We were seated in places of honor next to the Chairman of the Sports Association. During the presentation of the prizes we were welcomed to the tournament. Afterwards we were invited for tea with the Chairman, the Chief of Police who is on the association board, and various deputies of the association. Sports, and badminton in particular, are a big deal in Kushtia. The board members are all past players; Moni is a past champion. Some board members are organizers and others are umpires. We enjoyed our introduction into this important activity here. We really enjoyed our chat with the Chief of Police, too. He spoke excellent English. He has been in Sudan and Liberia with the UN. He had a lot of good things to say about the importance of education in maintaining peace and prosperity.
Tomorrow is Sports Day for SunUp school. We’ll have a report and more pictures.