Postcards from the Edge

of Bangladesh

Christmas: Chakma style

Since my Christmas plans ended up in a heap in the corner after being beaten senseless by Bangladeshi bureaucracy, I have spent my Christmas here, with my Chakma friends. I am so touched at the effort that people went to, in this hastily organised Christmas lunch. About 30 people attended the lunch, held at the meditation centre up the road. And I even got some presents, which I really didn’t expect.

The gift list is as follows:

– 1 x woven Chakma blanket (much needed as I’m currently sleeping with two pairs of bottoms and 3 tops at night because I’ve been too lazy to buy another blanket)

– 1 x box of Bangladeshi sweets

– 1 x mobile chain/accessory thing

– 1 x Moanoghar T shirt

– 3 x 2010 diaries (surplus has been distributed)

– 4 x pens

– 1 x muffler (the scarf like thing worn around the head, like a cartoon character with toothache). As modelled in the office by Moanoghar’s accountant today:

When Memory gave me the muffler, I thought ‘ah, that’s really sweet, but I’ll never actually wear it…’. Not so. I wore it in the office today. It’s forking freezing in there. With the glass-less windows with shutters that are always open, ‘in there’ is pretty much the same as ‘out there’ but without the added benefit of the lovely warm sun.

– 1 x pair of socks with fingers (also from Memory). Which is how these wonderful socks have been described to me before. I obviously didn’t have a clue what was being described to me.Um, ok, socks with… fingers you say? Until I received my very own pair yesterday. That look like such:

With the sole purpose to wear like so:

Genius. Clearly socks and sandals are a big enough fashion tend to require specialist socks. I shall wear mine with pride.

So all in all, despite being away from family and friends, it was a great Christmas. It was slightly surreal getting Christmas presents from a Buddhist monk though. I’d love to return the present giving one day, but what do you buy the man who isn’t allowed to own anything?

PS Did very much miss my sisters yesterday though. One having a braai (BBQ) by the pool in Cape Town, and the other having a snowy Christmas in England. And my little nephew who I spoke to briefly on the phone. It’s the first time I’ve been able to notice his accent (he’s a few months short of 3) and he sounds so…ENGLISH. Ok, I know he was born in and lives in England, his father is English and his mother has lived there for about 10 years, so yes, he IS English. But man, I really didn’t expect such a cute little English accent. I guess in my head he always sounded like a Saffa. When my sister made him say ‘you alright?’ it was just the cutest thing I’ve ever heard. I guess that is very much the downside of volunteering/living abroad, you miss out on so much, family and friends wise. So much happens that you just aren’t aware of, like your nephew turning into a Souf London toddler. I fully expect to meet a Oliver Twist-esque character when I see him again in London. That’s how he looks, sounds and acts in my head now.


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