Wednesday, December 17, 2008


There is a Bengali word, Khaislot, which means character but with a snide touch. You hear it used a lot in the same sentence as politicians, for example. In the thirty years I was abroad, the Khaislot of many a Bangladeshi added one characteristic that I wish it had not.

It is the unwillngness or utter inability of admitting a mistake.

Take tonight for example. On the way home I stopped at the furniture store where our old rocking chair was being repainted. A cursory glance showed that the arms of the chair had rough patches on the paint which looked like someone's fingerprints on wet paint.

But the guy would not admit a mistake! He kept insisting that it was ok, it was not a problem. His final stand - the closest to admitting the mistake - was that it would be fine, no problem, because the roughness would eventually smooth out.

Of course I did not accept it. He then tried to sandpaper it but that messed up the paintwork, so he has more work to do.

Reminds me of another incident right after we had arrived here. We bought air conditioners form a reputable company and they sent people to install them. The remotes for the ACs had their own remote control "holders". These holders were designed to be bolted to the wall. Each holder had two holes and came with two screws for bolting them.

(The reason you need two screws is because if you bolt it with just one, it will not stay in one place, but move left and right with every nudge.)

Well, I noticed the guy going around the house bolting the holders with only one screw. When I asked him why he was not using two, he said, "But sir, if I use two, I might make a mistake and not align it perfectly, so it will always look ugly. With one, even if it is a little misaligned, you can nudge it a little and align it. See, like this."

I think that was the closest I came to slapping someone here. I really really wish Bangladeshis learn to own up when they make a mistake and not insult others' intelligence.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

After the Party

Eid-ul-Azha - celebrated by Muslims - is in many ways like Thanksgiving. People eat. They seriously chow down. For many of the poor, perhaps it is one of precious few days in the year when they eat (a lot of) meat.

The day after Eid, people head home after their vacation. Not a happy day for many, with school and work looming on the horizon.

Here are some pictures from Sadarghat, Dhaka's massive river terminal, as people try to return home after the big party.

You make the Eid feeling last a little longer by decking out on new dresses...

... and the henna stays for a few days.

"The shades help me look cool...

...but the crowds are marching to the pier...

... and I know the party is over."

"Hurry Grandpa, you don't want to miss the boat, do you?"

"So many boats here... which one is mine?

... oh, there it is!"

Some have to carry their stuff...

... while others, such as this man, have to be carried themselves.

For many little ones, Mommy is just a kiss away...

...but you really don't want to be lost in a place like this.

"The boat looks pretty big...

... I wonder what our place will look like...

... and whether I will be able to play Horsie."

"Wish Eid had lasted a little longer. But it was good. See you next year!"