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Archive for June, 2010|Monthly archive page

Back in Dhaka

In Uncategorized on June 26, 2010 at 6:25 am

So two days ago was probably one of the busiest days I’ve had thus far.

We visited 2 association sites, which were around 40 km apart, but in Bengali time, that means it’s 1hr and a half away. We also went to 2 separate chilling plants. Although it was fun, it was extremely tiring.

On top of that, I was told by Afzal, and he’s probably right, to NOT wash my hair with shampoo as I was the central magnet for flies today. Yes… And it wasn’t pretty. During the meetings, you would hear me squeal, and squirming. You would see me close my eyes like I was on a roller coaster and hit at the air, frantically.

I must also say, BENGALI’s are very hospitable. Everywhere you go, they MAKE SURE they serve you something. For example, besides breakfast, lunch and dinner, at every single meeting and visit we had today, they gave us apples, oranges, and mangos at EVERY SINGLE ONE! Honestly, by the end of this trip, I am going to gain SO MUCH WEIGHT! AHHHHHHHHHH lol

Afzal's Guilty Pleasure!

They washed our clothes!

These past couple of days, well actually yesterday, Afzal and I did nothing but chill. We really needed that since the field visits really wore us out. I didn’t do really any exercise, but boy, I was aching yesterday. We went to King’s Confectionary yesterday, and we went to this Gelato shop yesterday and had coffee!!YES COFFEEE, finally lol. For of those you who don’t know, bengali’s dont really drink coffee here. Look at affy eating ice cream lol. Yes, i  mean Gelato! YUMMY!!! And we got our laundry done. take a look at what they did: they even prepackaged our laundry for us, in PLASTIC PACKAGES!They washed our clothes!

So on the 28th, Afzal and I will be visiting the fields again. We’ll be going to Bogra, then JaiPur Hat! We’re going for about 4 days and then we’ll be returning to Dhaka. Funny story, Afzal and I were walking along like the university streets yesterday where all the young people are at, AND THERE WAS A CAR SHOW!!! it was just, hilarious to us, not because we thought they were funny or the cars were funny, but it was just something we never expected, no idea why.

Ps,  we’re staying at the Marion Hotel 🙂

 

our driver is CRAZY!!!

In Uncategorized on June 21, 2010 at 5:43 pm

So these past few days have been pretty hectic for Afzal and myself, hence I haven’t updated the blog in around 3 days. So what I have been doing?

1) Well, on the 19th, we spent our last couple of moments in Mymensingh. We didn’t do much this day, except we went to a Dairy Convention. Now, it was quite enjoyful, meeting the dairy community of Mymensingh. However, the crazy part of this story, is the drive to the convention. MY GOODNESS, let me tell you, our driver was late, and he perhaps made Dr. Shamsuddin a bit upset, so the normal person would perhaps drive a little bit faster, but under control right? WRONG. not when you’re in Bangladesh.. MY FRIGGIN GOODNESS, this man, is driving so fast and quick, i felt like rickshaws were flying at us left right and centre. He used the honk every 2 seconds (and this is not normal, considering most bengali’s use their horn every 5 seconds), and WE ALMOST KILLED SOMEONE. !!!! Seriously, we were going extremely quick, and to the right of the car, was another car, expect it was parked so for those of you who drive, you know that if someone was to cross the road coming from infront of the parked car, and we were heading in that direction, we would not be able to see if someone was going to cross or not… AND HENCE, yeup, we almost killed someone. Anyhow, Afzal got so scared, that he decided on the way back from the convention, he would refrain from sitting in the front seat with the driver.

at the Dairy Convention.

A booth at the convention!

Anyhow, after that, we had dinner and prepped for the next day. Funny thing that happened, imagine this. Afzal and I, in the same room (two seperate twin beds), both with mosquito nets, where Afzal is under one mosquito net, and bonnie is under the other, discussing about the future of CDVS. Now, the cool thing is, we did something never attempted or successful in humankind. I had the Grameen Phone Internet stick, and due to our paranoia of being bit by mosquitos, a feat was attemped. For the first time ever in history, IN BANGLADESH, a stunt by two non bengali’s,  I threw the Internet stick, by lifting up the mosquito net only a tiny bit enough to fit my wrist, to Afzal. AND… HE CAUGHT IT. AMAZING RIGHT? lol, then i threw a book to him. It was amazing.

the internet stick that was thrown

Anyhow, the next day, we went to Sirajganj to visit the association there. It was amazing! The people there were extremely nice, and made sure that they fed us lol. Overall, i’m getting used to all the attention I get, although it is still very uncomfortable for me at times. Here is a picture from that day.!

Speaking to the association at Sirajganj.

 

So today, I’m in Satkhira, and will be here for a couple more days! But the room we’re in, is super super super nice. They even made us sign contracts. LOL, please look at the last sentence in this “contract” LOL.

Anyway, it’s late here, so im off to bed. I’ll update this soon. Ciao.

Bengali Wedding, and Milk Market.

In Uncategorized on June 19, 2010 at 8:55 am

To say that these past two day have been eventful, would be an understatement. For the past couple of days, I have been trying so hard to adjust to the culture shock here. Everything was just really hard. But i’m starting to love it here now. LOVE LOVE LOVE.

Yesterday, was the first time I’ve been to a Bengali wedding, and let me tell you, it was amazing! First, we got to sit where the bride was sitting—i don’t know exactly how to explain what it was she was sitting on, but it was like a pedalstal, or something that was above the floor. She asked me and afzal to go there and sit, and we took pictures. Yeup, we did. Then, they like moved 5 people, to accommodate me and afzal, along with the the shamsuddin family. We were served some mutton, and rice, and then, the best part, was teh sweet sticky rice, which was yellow (i’m assuming that was honey) and there were raisins in it. My goodness, it was so awesome. The desert was amazing, so amazing that I want to try every other Bengali dessert there is!!!

Today, we went to the buffalo farm and milk market up north. OH MY GOODNESS, it was so cool. I love love loved it First the milk farm: We saw someone milk a buffalo. Honestly, it was so cool.  Did you know buffalo could produce 4 L of milk a day, which is roughly 2 L more milk than the breed of cows we’re currently dealing with. Also, buffalo milk, has around 6-7 % of fat in it’s milk, whereas cow milk, has only 3.75% of fat. lol, basically quality of milk is based on % of fat.

Talking with Nazmul, about the milk collectors.

 So cool eh? anyhow, we then went into the milk market in that village. We really talked to everyone, and they were so nice. The local minister even came by lol. They lovedgiving us Chai, and wanted pictures with us! We got to speak with the locals alot too. And they honestly, had some amazing deserts. They had this small milk cake thing, well i don’t know if cake is the right word to describe it, but it’s basically milk, milk fat and sugar and it was absolutely delicious. It was honestly so good, i can’t stop thinking about it.

so yummy. a bengali dessert!

 

So to the left, would be a picture of the desserts we got. The white things are the milk desserts i was talkinga bout earlier. and if you can see, there’s actaully some yoghurt, all fresh and and organic, to the top of the milk desserts. Honestly, best yoghurt i’ve had, HANDS DOWN. anyhow, tmrw, we leave for Sirajganj and Satkhira. I’m super excited about this since we’ll be actually conducting research, and assembling focus groups to determine the needs of the farmers and their lifestyles! I’ll update the blog on the road. In the mean while, i’m going to go take a little nap. Ciao.

chillin in Mymensingh with Afzal.

In Uncategorized on June 18, 2010 at 4:18 am

Walk along the river in Mymensingh

so two days ago, was the second day in Mymensingh. It’s been great  I’ve been interviewing with Afzal, with Professor Muhhamed Shamsuddin, who is actually next in line to be vice chancellor. It’s been quite cool walking around with him, as every student that sees him, and us, nods, says hi, and doesn’t dare move until he has passsed. Afzal explained it like this to me. “imagine, you were a foreigner, walking with dean horvath, in schulich. ” obviously you would get a lot of stares. so it’s been quite cool.

anyhow, the professor here is amazing. as afzal put it, he’s like the next Yunus. lol. Seriously, this guy is brilliant. and very smart!!!! Anyhow, i’m not sure if i showed you our Care badges, but they’re super cool. Plus, we got Grameen phones and a Grameen Rocket stick!! WUDDUPPP!!! It’s awesome!

Our very own Grameen Phone!!!!

So yesterday was my third day in mymensingh, and i love it here. Well better than Dhaka anyways. Its essentially a university town, and so, it’s less polluted, less busy, and there are less people here, which i am a big fan of.

Anyhow, Afzal  and i are super spoiled, i mean we have AC, and we have food lol. No seriously, people cook for us and stuff, and i’m thinking to myself “boy, am i going to gain so much weight”. Ahaha, so I really do have to watch what i eat. Those granola bars mom and Sylvia, are coming in very handy!!! Super handy! They have helped me survive a lot lol—i wish i brought 1 more box, but oh wells. (for those of you who don’t know, i brought 2 boxes of granola bars, meaning, i brought 72 bars over! LOL.

Anyhow, we spent the whole day grilling and drilling Dr. Shammsuddin. We asked him question after question: it was insane! We probably spent 6 hours asking him questions. I even interviewed one of his employees, which was really fun. After we interviewed him, we walked back to the international residence. One thing that happened that was really cool. I’m not sure who was playing soccer, but it was i believe korea against ? and someone, not sure which side, scored a goal. And you could hear the entire university town roar, cheer and celebrate— something that we don’t get back in Toronto. We then proceeded back to Dr. Shamsuddin’s house and we met his family. His 8 year old son is quite amusing and creative— he told Afzal and I he loves watching Tom & Jerry. Dr. Shammsuddin has 2 daughters (1 who is 15 and 1 who is 10), his son is 8—the youngest. Anyhow, then we got some mango lassi (Richard todd, i tried it!!! Lol) and yes, it was super yummy. Anyhow, we then got back to the international residence, and had dinner. I am a big fan of naan bread— it is so yummy! And i love love LOVE the mangos and pineapple here; so super sweet. I don’t know how I’m  going to go back to Toronto and eat our mangos!

Anyhow, that’s it for now, i’m off. Today, Afzal and I will be interviewing some more, and we will be going to our FIRST  Bengali wedding!!!!!! We’re so excited, i mean, when are we ever going to get to go to a Bengali wedding!!!  Anyway, ciao for now!

asdf 

Anyhow, i’ll catch yall later!

CARE Office

In Uncategorized on June 17, 2010 at 10:01 am

So two days ago, was our first day at the CARE Office. It was great seeing everyone, and finally getting to why Afzal and I are here: to see if the Dairy project at hand, is efficient and effective, and evaluating the current models of business being used. The office was quite glamourous, in my opinion, compared to many other buildings I have seen thus far. My desk is pretty awesome, i can’t lie: ahha, see picture below. yeup, second year consultant. that’d be me!!!!!

at my desk

After attending some meetings and what not, we went to the 13th floor and to the CARE cafeteria. We had rice and curry. Suprisingly, i really really liked it! yummmm.  anyhow, after we met with everyone, we just did some research and conducted a lot of interviews.

Beef Curry in CARE Cafeteria

 

That night, i flopped in bed, because I was so exhausted. I don’t know why, but I had such a bad headache. Anyhow, i had to register for my schulich courses that night, and i got so angry; i started to tear up. I don’ tknow why i was so frustrated. I just was. I couldn’t get into 3 of the courses i wanted to. and it just made me angry. However, afterwards, afzal came in, and talked to me. He said i was in culture shock. and to my defense, i was like “eruh,… no im not. i have bengali friends”. But then he explained to me it’s so much more than that. and then i realized he was right. I mean, i’m not used to all these people, cars, and pollution. I’m not used to being the only asian person in a place. I’m not used to getting stares, and stares : and believe me, they don’t try to hide the fact that they’re staring at me. As a matter of fact, they’ll make it known. I’m not used to not being able to communicate, or to say a simple thank you. And that, is the most frustrating part, that people dont’ even know that i’m thankful for what they do. I’m not used to people cooking dinner for me, and making the table for me, and picking up after me— I can do that myself.  Although I am very appreciative at the CARE Staff house, that they’re taking care of me, and everything, i don’t want that. It’s also different, in that the people that are poor here, are very poor; very very ppoor. And i know there’s something wrong here. It’s got to be wrong, to have a Mercedes-Benz dealership, right next to the slums of Dhaka, Bangladesh. There’s no way that’s right, but who can i blame? The corporation? They are only here because there’s a demand for it, so can i really blame them? Then who? the people on the street themselves? No way. then who? the Government? Nut then i realized, maybe there isn’t anyone to blame. Maybe, there doesn’t need to be anyone to blame. Maybe, instead of being angry, i should do something about it. We’ll see anyway.

 Anyhow, i am starting to get over the culture shock, although it is still very difficult. But im going to head off now. ciao for now. Ps, having afzal here with me, has been awesome. — he has helped a lot with me coping and what not!

Gulshan Plaza Restaurant & Blackouts! Just the usual in Bangladesh.

In Uncategorized on June 16, 2010 at 12:12 am

The sky in Dhaka at night.

Gulshan Plaza

 

So as soon as we landed, Afzal and I decided to take a nap and refresh ourselves, before going out to explore what the city has to offer. At 4pm, we decided to head out. We first walked around the Gulshan area, and found that there’s an HSBC here, a KFC and a Pizza hut– suprising fact, we haven’t seen a McDonalds yet! Who would have known? I guess KFC is bigger here than McDonalds. Anyhow, we passed by the embassies of each country, and suprisingly, each embassy has a “club” like a golf club, with members in it. As we walked, we found… yes you guessed it… WONDERLAND! BENGALI STYLE! lol, it isn’t nearly as big as the one back home, but nonetheless, the name reminded us of home! After walking for 2 -3 hours, we decided to hit up one of the local restaurants, and under the recommendation of Lonely Planet, we went to Gulshan Plaza. This restaurant supposedly is famous for its food with the locals. We sat down. Afzal ordered a beef kebab and i ordered a chicken shawarma. Then, one of the exciting parts of the day.. WE WENT ON A RICKSHAW!!!!!!! My goodness, those things are so much fun. Honestly, I felt bad for the guy because he was working so hard… Anyhow, ALL this fun, buying foood here, eating there, going on rickshaws, cost… in total, for the both of us… les than 10$ can. Awesome eh?

But the best part of the day, we definately this. CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW!!!!

Blackout!

So cool eh? 😛

im here. and boy is it HOT

In Uncategorized on June 13, 2010 at 6:45 am

so after the 14 hour flight to dubai, the 8 hour overlay, spending time with akshay(not that im complaining or anything), afzal and I finally arrive in Bangladesh. The flights were.. interesting let’s say.

First, from the Dubai flight, and the Bangladesh flight, you can very visibly point out the differences in democraphics. The flight from tdot to dubai was extremely multicultural, where as the flight to Bangladesh, consisted of primarly males, and of course, Bengali. It did feel very awkward at first, actually, I don’t think i’ve been more self conscious in my life before– because I got stares, everywhere I went. People were telling me stories about how foreign girls might be treated and that did freak me out at first. However, I soon realized how judgemental that was for me, and how ignorant it was for me to think that way. As soon as i changed my perception of thinking, I began to become less paranoid.

Arriving at the airport was interesting. I felt the heat immediately, and like Belize, the army (police) were everywhere, with their rifles visible. They were all very nice to me, and even let us borrow their cellphones! Cool eh? We soon got picked up by Mr. Barua (our driver) and headed towards the CareHouse, which is in Gulshin, Dhaka. boy, can this man drive! It is like an organized chaos here. Cars are bumper to bumper, and yet, this is what makes this city so alive and vibrant. even now, as I am typing, I hear honking every 3 seconds.

    

“hey, i go to york too”

In Uncategorized on June 12, 2010 at 4:16 pm

so i’m here in Dubai International Airport, with afzal, and guess who i bumped into? AKSHAY!!!! what a small world ! my goodness. So anyhow, first time on the emirates plane. wow, they HAVE A MENU? are you JOKING ME? lol, and the air flight attendants are beautiful. absolutely gorgeous!!!! i totally wanted to sneak up to the first class place, but didn’t work.

anyhow, my goodness. i must say, the saudi arabian attrie, like the long robe things that the guys wear, wowwwwwwwwww. i can admit, i find it really stylish! anyhow, we met this girl, who was sitting next to us, and she GRADUATED FROM YORK? how coincidental is that? and she was telling that… i have to be super careful, because i’m a girl… :S, but hopefully, nothing will happen to me!!!!

anyhow, i’ll update when im in bangladesh. Im just waiting for the transfer flightt right now lol. 😛 ciao for now.

im home sick…. at home.

In Uncategorized on June 10, 2010 at 11:09 pm

So… i’m sure everyone knows by know. Yes, i’m home sick… at home.

Ridiculous right? How can someone be homesick, and still be at home? I can’t explain this queezy feeling i have. I couldn’t sleep last night until 3:30 am because of it. I don’t know, i feel very, uneasy, and I have absolutely no appetite. I just… Yes. I am scared. Not for my own safety or any of that stuff. Like, for those of you who know me well know, you all know this is MY DREAM. if i could do this type of work for the rest of my life, then i would be the happiest person in the world… but… What if I’m not good enough? What if… they don’t like me? What if they don’t accept me? What if, I’m not what they expected? they are just so many “what ifs” and right now, i dont’ know how i feel.

On a lighter note, i bought a new laptop today! i returned my netbook lol. Yeah, it wasn’t compatible with my camera, so i was just like, screw it. Yeup. I went to Chapters today, with afzal, and we went over some stuff and our plan of action! It was awesome. I never knew pakistan and bangladesh had such a history either!! I also bought a new book on strategy. It’s a pretty good read actually, im loving it! I need to buy more more and MORE books! Woot woot!

I also wanted to thank all of you guys, who have taken the time to send me personal messages on facebook,bbm or whatever it is, wishing me luck, or telling me all these greats things. Thanks guys, honestly though, and in all seriousness, you, yes you, are the awesome ones. I am grateful and thankful to have such amazing friends like you guys.

Anyhow, so it’s the night before, and i still have not packed any clothes yet  lol. I am such a guy when it comes to packing!

Ciao for now. Next post, probably gonna be in Bangladesh!!!!!

3 bottles of mosquito repellent and 2 bottles of 50 SPF sunscreen– im ready.

In Uncategorized on June 6, 2010 at 11:32 pm

Today, I decided to pick up all the stuff I need.

1) Imodium 2) gravol 3) Tylenol 4) Reactine 5) Cortisone cream 6) Insect Repellant 7) Sunscreen SPF >15

CHECK CHECK CHECK! lol. So after being 104.55$ poorer, I decide to come home and pack all my stuff into my luggage. For once in my life, i’m not packing the night before! (i’ve done it before ps, and i’m good at it). It’s actually starting to hit me, for reals this time. i’m actually going to bangladesh. I can’t lie, i’m scared, nervous, but anxious and scared.

I don’t know if this is normal, or how i should be feeling.  I’m really scared of not being able to get used to the food in Bangladesh. After my trip to Little India yesterday with Afzal, Sameer, Adam and Alina, I… I don’t know anymore. The meal wasn’t even that bad, it wasn’t even spicy. I’m just not used to it. And my tummy felt… not so good at all. :S   But I will say yesterday was fun. My first time to Little India and it was a lot of fun! I learned what Kashmiri was, and masala chai? 😀 I also had Indian ice cream, which i found to be a bit more creamier and milkier than our ice cream. What was cool was that we actually got to go into the kitchen of the Indian/Pakistani restaurant and kind of got a tour. I found out what a tandoori oven looked like. It’s actually really cool! that’s actually  how they make the naan bread! 😀

Anyhow, Alina, do not worry. I’ll msg you the first time I puke! :S  Anyhow, I’m going to go watch the NBA Finals game now and try to read about Bangladesh.

And, hopefully the 3 bottles of mosquito repellent and 2 bottles of 50 spf sunscreen will be enough! However, i’m sure i will come back dark anyways 😛