Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Simply Happy

Today was one of those days that started off well and just kept getting better.

The Tulips were in great spirits this morning. Sarah provided some cards with letters and pictures of words that start with that letter. Without prompting, the children were sorting them by letter – zebra and zipper were in a row together, as were, lemon, leaf, and lion. Sooner or later, all the cards and all the kids were on the mat with me.

To cheer up Mehjabin, who was saddened by the fact that she had to share her cards, I started to sing a song. I was inspired by the The Wheels on the Bus and Ramisa, who was holding a card with the letter E and a picture of an egg on her head. “The egg on Ramisa’s head cracks open and drips, open and drips. The egg on Ramisa’s hat cracks open and drips. All day long.” The song proved to be a hit. “Pick me! Pick me!” and “Me next! Me next!” they shouted as they jumped up and down holding different cards on their heads. With parrots, fish, lions, queens, lemons and oranges on the children’s heads my creativity was challenged. Yet, no matter how silly phrases I came up with were, they loved it! Eventually it was time to start the real lesson, but the positive tone had been set.

In a bed of Tulips
Excitement was once again at a high when the kids made their very own binoculars. Based on their enthusiastic response to the project, you’d have thought that the binoculars worked or at least that they’d been constructed of more than just two stapled-together toilet paper roles. In fact the kids were so thrilled that after they painted the binoculars and we set them aside to dry, we could hardly tear the kids away - they were literally watching the paint dry.

I’m enjoying every moment with the Tulips and really trying to soak up their energy and bask in their smiles. They’ve hired a more permanent assistant teacher for their class and I’ll be moving over to the other building to assist with Class 1 Starfish starting Sunday. So sadly tomorrow will be my last day with them. I’m sure the Starfish will be great too, but I’m going to miss my Tulips!

In the afternoon, I joined the photography club on a field trip. Lead by Ripon Sir, they were taking a bus to the future site of the Sir John Wilson School (the land’s been purchased and the building plans are making their way through the bureaucratic system at the speed of frozen molasses). We met in the art room at 1:30 PM and we were scheduled to leave at 1:40. In true Bengali fashion we boarded the bus at 1:50 and departed just before 2 PM.

Shop keeper along the road.
To get to the site we ambled through narrow streets lined with vegetable stalls, bicycle and rickshaw repair shops, pharmacies, butchers, and barbers. The bus did not have air-conditioning, and all the windows were open. The smell of exhaust, slightly decayed fruit, and fresh fish wafted through the windows. Three large fans installed on the ceiling sucked in the scents and swirled them around. The kids were wide-eyed. “This is how we’re going to have to get to school?!” The adults all responded by pointing out all the pros – every morning you’ll get to go on a tour, you can go shopping after school, and just think of how much more exciting photo club will be!

We arrived at the site - a silt peninsula off the main street, which was wide enough so that one bus and a rickshaw could just barely pass each other. The local children started to gather as we took a quick glimpse of the land. With the kids following us, we set off down the tree-lined, dirt road.

When I rounded the corner, I saw two women, dressed in saris, standing at a gate and watching us. I approached them and asked if I could take their picture. My question really consisted of me pointing at my camera, smiling and saying, “picture?” while moving my finger up and down pretending to click. They responded with the famous Bengali head tilt/nod. I took their photo and showed it to them. They smiled and then, to my surprise, the older lady beckoned me to follow her.

Stepping through the gate I found myself inside their family village/compound. She quickly gathered what were presumably her grandchildren, situated them in front of a sari that was hung to dry, stood behind them and waited for their picture to be taken. Happily I obliged. Within a few minutes more of her family members had gathered.

Using the little Bangla I know, I started to converse with them. “Abnar nam ki?” (What is your name?” Amar nam Andrina (My name is Andrina). They were delighted! I was invited to step into one of the rooms and look around – as with the village I’d visited in Chuadanga, everything was spotless. I gestured around and said, “sunder” (nice). They smiled. When it was time to go I waved and said “donobat” (thank you).

The school is holding a function at the future site on Friday. Before then I plan to print the pictures I took so that I can bring them to the village when we go back.

In the grand scheme of life here in Bangladesh, my day was rather ordinary. But captivated by the simple pleasures in life, it’s left me smiling and simply happy.  

1 comment:

  1. this post made me so happy :) i am sooo glad you're loving it there! can't wait to see you and have our adventure!