Saturday, April 28, 2007

Cricket in a Sari
April 28, 2007

Yesterday I took four research assistants to Ashulia to continue surveying the garment workers for my low-income housing project. Since I don't speak Bangla well enough to administer the survey, I just waited outside while they interviewed the women. As usual, I drew quite a crowd. The children were particularly excited to have a bideshi (foreigner) come to their home. I took several pictures of them and they enjoyed seeing themselves on my camera after I took their photos.

I had many invitations from the garment workers to come inside and eat with them. I visited their homes and ate pickled green mangoes (which are actually very good!) After the women demonstrated that it was OK to come and talk to me, the men came out too and started asking me questions. I wish that my Bangla was better so that I could have engaged them in a more meaningful conversation about their living situation, however I made due with asking them about their families and trying to explain why I am not married yet.

Toward the end of the afternoon one young man came by with a cricket bat. I had seen several kids playing cricket around Dhaka, but I hadn't yet tried it myself, so I asked him if he would teach me how to play. He was very excited to do so and pretty soon I was standing in the courtyard hitting cricket balls. I am actually pretty good too! I hit about 90% of the balls that they threw to me. The boys told me that I could go to the Cricket World Cup!

Now I normally draw a lot of attention in Bangladesh because I am tall and white. A tall, white woman playing cricket in a sari in Bangladesh, however, is analogous to an alien landing on the White House lawn in the U.S., so naturally the entire neighborhood came out to watch the spectacle. It was a great deal of fun, though I will admit to being quite sore today as a result!

Here are a few of the pictures that I took:

Conducting the Survey
Here one of my research assistants is surveying a garment worker in the courtyard in front of her house in Ashulia. (Ashulia is a suburb of Dhaka where many garment factories are located.) You will notice a large open sewage ravine in the ground that was filled with garbage and fetid water. What you will not notice from this photograph is the horrible smell of feces that accompanied the sewage pit. Raw sewage and garbage out in the open are very common in poor neighborhoods.

Garment Workers and Me
Since many of these poor people have never seen cameras before much less used one, it was hard to get a decent picture of me with the workers. This is one of the few that actually turned out.

From the Fishbowl
Most of the neighbors came outside to meet the "bideshi".

Me in action! I think I am going to start an American cricket team. All of the players will be women and we will all wear saris...


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