Thursday, February 15, 2007

Valentine's Day Feast! Apologies to the vegetarians
I had a date for Valentine's day with 20 boys and two chooks. I had promised to eat dinner with the boys and buy them chicken, a treat they rarely eat. I forgot that chicken is very fresh in Bangladesh. It's so fresh that the chicken sellers stroll the streets with live chooks in their hands yelling 'hot chicken'. My boys did all the gruesome killing, plucking and chopping. I didn't watch but could hear what was going on. Funnily enough I didn't feel like eating it afterwards- although I couldn't dissapoint the boys- who made me pose for this photo. Shaon, pictured above, spent a quarter of his daily income to buy me a rose. These boys are truely stealing my heart! Definetely my best V day ever.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Aloongi's Water Castle
In Sydney you pay a fortune to live near the water. In Dhaka when you are poor you live on the water, cheaper rent. Aloongi the lovely child motivator who had the eye operation last year invited me to his home. He shares a room with his mother. His siblings live next door. The swamp directly below his house is visible through the gaps in the bamboo pole floor. Even though his family is poor, I as a guest was treated like a god and fed with lemonade, biscuits and my favourite dessert- piesh, a sweet rice pudding. I just hope that the current government in their 'let's knock down anything illegal' conquest doesn't knock down his home because to quote a famous Aussie film 'a man's home is his castle!'.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Biswas Ijtema

The Tabligh Jamaat (a branch of Islam) of Bangladesh just hosted the second largest gathering of Muslim followers after the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. Every year nearly 3 million people congregate to Tongi a small town on the outskirts of Dhaka. This includes 15,000 international guests. The Tabligh Jamaat are basically the hippies of Islam. They have a non-political stance and arrange social services like marriage of poor men and women free of cost. Their aim is to bring spiritual awakening to the world's Muslims. They focus on being good in this life in order to have a better afterlife.

Living in a Muslim country I thought I would share some info about Islam.

There are Five Pillars, or basic practices and beliefs of Islam:

  • Witness / Shahadah: Declaration that “there is no God but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God.”
  • Prayer / Salah: Prayer offered at five times during the day. Dhaka has a great speaker system, the prayer to call is heard all over the city- even from my bedroom at 5am.
  • Giving / Zakah: Giving to the poor.
  • Fasting /Sawm: Fasting during the month of Ramadan from sunrise to sunset, which includes abstaining from all food, drink and sexual activity.
  • Pilgrimage / Hajj: A pilgrimage to Mecca (the site of God’s revelation to Muhammad, and the sacrifice made by Abraham) for those who are physically and financially able.

Did you know? Islam is one of the Abrahamic family of faiths that also includes Judaism and Christianity. Muslims recognize Abraham, Moses, Jesus and other Biblical figures as part of this tradition.