Sunday, June 28, 2009

Escaping Dhaka

I realize I haven’t posted at all last week, but it was a bad week for the whole language learning component. Not only did I not have anything good to say, I was dedicating most of my time to studying. Now I feel as though I have committed some of these grammar rules to memory, which was a major accomplishment. Grammar, in any language, has never been my forte. After all of this studying I can put a simple sentence together on paper and my Bangla vocabulary has improved, however, I still am not confident enough to speak in Bangla on the street. It’s all part if the language acquisition process.

This past week’s theme was on Islamic architecture. It included a lecture on Tuesday about Bangladesh’s architectural influence in the Islamic world. Then on Friday we visited a mosque for afternoon service. We watched, us girls in a separate room of course, the prayer ritual for an hour. Then the Imam wanted to have a little Q and A, which was a special treat.

The culminating activity was a trip to the old capital of Sonargoan/Panam, just southeast of Dhaka. Panam was a deserted town with fascinating architecture. The first buildings were built by the Hindus in the 13th century. It was abandoned with the rise of Muslim controlled Dhaka in the late 19th century. Not only was the architecture beautiful, the fresh air and absence of the hectic city life was a welcome relief. The people, especially the children, were very kind and interested to make new friends. We would take pictures then show them their smiling faces captured in our digital cameras. They thought that was the coolest thing and followed us all afternoon. They were also excited to practice the English they are learning in school. One boy proudly proclaimed in English, "I am in reading class 3." I was ashamed to confess my Bangla reading level, so I willingly allowed him to practice his English with me.

We ended the trip with a visit to the village where jamdani cloth is hand woven. Jamdani is incredibly fine, light weight muslin that is a specialty of Bangladesh. Legend has it that a jamdani sari, comprising approximately 13 yards of fabric, can be folded into the size of a matchbox. The people were so friendly and eager to let us try our hand at the weaving process. It was priceless and ironically they didn't take Visa.

We will take a trip up north to Bogra this weekend. It is our big 3 day trip outside of Dhaka. We are all looking forward to it. This week we have several lectures on Bangladesh’s history from the middle period. In Bogra we will visit very old Buddhist temple ruins. I am eager for more fresh air and sunshine.

1 comment:

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