Monday, November 05, 2007

Rongpur - Day 2

One thing about villagers, no matter what their level of education - the men and the kids are eager to be photographed. As soon as they see a lens they strike a pose. The women, on the other hand, run like rabbits at the sight of a camera.

Here I was trying to take a picture of the cow eating peacefully. As soon as the cow saw me, she charged up. Enter the cow farmer to the rescue. "Sir, let ME help you." And of course I had to click his picture with his prized possession.

People here are extremely proud, regardless of how little they have. And when they saw us coming, they would insist we sit at their house and take some tea. I had to engage all my negotiations skills to squirm away without causing offense. At times, their overt hospitality gets irritating to one's "Western" sensibilities.

The following picture is of the village washrooms.

I was surprised here when my uncle said villagers had a tendency to use the 'open space' to attend to the call of nature. Which is probably why it's not a good idea if you are a newlywed couple to go romping in the fields - you don' know who's been, er, busy, there.

"I built this pair of washrooms," my uncle said, "and have hired two people to clean them regularly, yet the hard part was getting all the villagers to use them rather than go for it in the open." Thankfully most of the villagers now use the washrooms. Baby steps for Bangladesh.

The above is the ancient way people still farm here in Bangladesh. Most farmers are too poor to buy modern machinery and the government is too busy fighting amongst themselves to help. It is such a shame that despite such high quality fertile land, hard working people and year-round-utilization of the farm land, Bangladesh is still not self-sufficient in food.

Most of the villagers I meet have a bad tobacco habit. At 50 taka per pack for the cheap ones, it's not an inexpensive hobby either. They sell their valuable land, stop their daughter's education, borrow more money to pay for a wedding, and yet will not quit smoking. And EVERY one chews beetle leaf (paan). Their teeth are red (and gone by the time they are 45) and they STINK - yet they won't leave their bad habits. A lack of education is the direct cause of most of Bangladesh's woes, it seems to me.

The above is a single kitchen unit. The room inside is where they store the cooked food. The room outside is the kitchen. Women use clay stoves to cook the food. And the fuel?

This.
What are these stuff on those sticks?

Dried cow dung.

Very good as a fuel, I am told.

As I said, the people are very friendly. When I tried to take a picture of some ducks and hens feeding, they ran away. One little girl told me, "Don't worry." She then went back in, brought out more food (and chicken feed is expensive recently) without any thought and called the ducks to her again.

This was the strangest thing. The white dome like thing is the mimbar of the local Eid-gah.

Right next to it is a small shelf full of little cubicles. In each of those slots is a bottle of water, with the cap left open.

I am told when someone is ill or there is some misfortune in a family, the head of the family will take a bottle of water, read some prayers, then leave it here in the Eid-gah for the night. The place has a graveyard where lots of saints are buried. The villagers believe the spirits of those saints come and 'bless' the water in the middle of the night. In the morning the villagers come and get their respective bottles and drink the water. The problem is then supposedly 'resolved'.

Of course I didn't have time to test this theory, but I find it funny that Islam has been co-opted into superstition with such imagination by these unlettered folks.

Rongpur is an interesting place - too bad I don't have much more time and have to leave tomorrow.

12 comments:

Miss Specs said...

Enoying the adventures...

Suroor said...

I thought the white dome was a temple :)

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed reading your travelogue. The pictures are a bonus!

--Nadia

'liya said...

Mezba, when do we get to see a photo of you with a cow, duck or chicken? I'm eagerly waiting to see what you can come up with :D

mousehunter said...

This is pretty cool.. I'm very behind in my blog reading, and this photog of your journey is cool. Its quite interesting how the small village runs, I'm sure small villages in east are all very similar, regardless of country.

Mystic said...

Mezba...

I will reproduce this picture and story of white dome on my blog...(With credit to you)

It may be silly, but its very touchy and tells a lot about human innocence

( I hope you don't mind)

Maliha said...

Salamaat,
I am enjoying the adventures too, are you back?

Raya said...

These pictures prompt my grandfather's house which is no more a house now. :(
feel like going back to bangladesh.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Mezba you are in Bangladesh! After seeing all those pictures, i am really missing Bangladesh, specially my Nana Bari.

--Mimi

Anonymous said...

Yes, totally loving the pictures and tales of your adventures. If only I could be this not-lazy about my Egyptian tales :)

Also, you're tagged:

http://muslimmusings.wordpress.com/2007/11/17/tagged/

Muse

youngMuslimah said...

hope your fine, just heard of the cyclone!

mezba said...

Miss Specs: And I am back... I enjoyed all my adventures too! If you add me on facebook you will see why :-D

Suroor: Bangladesh is a land of surprises.

Nadia: Thanx.

Liya: Next time, iA! I will email you a picture of me and a chick.

Mousehunter: I am sure too. My camera got some lens error in the middle of my trip otherwise I would have had more pictures.

Mystic: No, I don't mind.

Maliha: Back now! Check your email.

Raya: Bangladesh is a great place to visit.

Mimi: You can check the facebook pictures. Ya, I miss Bangladesh too, and the carefree days there.

Muse: I am going to do the tag, right after a cyclone related post.

YM: Yup, I am fine, left before the hurricane struck.