Bangladesh Adventures

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Christmas in Noakhali

We went to Nita’s bari (homestead) on Friday, 22 December. It is always great to get out of Dhaka! We went to church in Dhaka in the morning then headed to Noakhali straight from church. Nita’s mom was ready for us with plau (special rice) and chicken curry for the boys to eat. We park our van at the Catholic Church then take a rickshaw for about 10 minutes to a dirt path that lead beside Nita’s bari, about a ten minute walk. From the path, we take a little muddy trail to Nita’s house.

Nita, CJ and I share one bed and the boys plus cousin Joe share another bed; Prova went with us and shares a bed with Mom Mendes; in the house we stay- Nita’s brother Morris and his wife Pana share a bed. There are only four small rooms and each room has a bed in it.

Stouts continue the tradition of steering between two cultures in giving gifts to the boys for Christmas. We give two gifts per boy. Most Bangladeshi Christians give one gift of clothing for Christmas- that’s it. We give one toy and one piece of clothing. The boys seem happy with it and we have been doing this for the last 3 years now. Even when we lived in the USA we tried not to go overboard with presents for the boys. However, in Bangladesh with over 50% of the people living on $1 or less a day it just seems inexcusable to shower gifts on each other when we already have so much. The boys’ cousins in Bangladesh get one piece of clothing from their parents and we give them a toy. When you are truly poor, (material wise) you don’t have money for anything extra- its hard to imagine that being from the west but it is true. Nothing extras- no gifts, no eating out, no cement floors, no extra portions of food, no healthcare, no cars, no phones, etc.

Bangladeshis truly practices the four ‘R’ that is: Recycle, Reuse, Reduce, and Refuse! As a westerner, I think it would be good if all of us thought about the four ‘R’ in our daily life- “May the Peace of God disturb you!

We played plenty of cricket, soccer, and American football at the school’s playing field. That is such a plus compared to Dhaka where there is no place to play. The pugar (pond) was cold so we only took one bath in the pugar. The rest of the time, we took rower pump bucket baths. CJ loved playing with two new puppies in the bari- one named Tiger and the other named Lion.

On Christmas Eve, we took three Catholic Sister and one Father to a small parish about 30 minutes away for where the main church is and had a wonderful Christmas Eve service with people from that village, which includes many cousins of Nita.

Christmas day we went to church with about 400 people at 8:30 a.m. Then we went to the cemetery to pay respect to Nita’s Father, grandmother and other relatives by putting candles on their graves and saying prayers. After that, we walked to different relative houses for pitas (special types of cakes and pastries) and tea- it is a fun time. Christmas afternoon we had a big dinner of plau (special rice) and duck curry! It is very damp in Noakhali so even thought the temperature does not go below 45’ it feels cold at night time- we needed to use a quilt.

We visited, played sports, and hung out at the bari on the 26 and 27 plus the engagement party.

We leave this Saturday, 30 December for India. We are taking a holiday in India. We will fly to Kolkata then take trains to the Taj Mahol (Agra), Jaipur, Jodhpur, and Jaisalmer in Rajasthan for a 3-day camel safari. It will be interesting and a good family bonding time on trains across India.

Pray you had a blessed Christmas and wish you all a Happy New Year!

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