Wednesday, July 11, 2007

No One Celebrates the 4th of July Like the Ex-Pats

As I’m sure you can tell, my life here has become somewhat routine (with regard to school and studying at least), and much busier than it was when I first arrived. I’ve given up on posting daily, and will now focus only on the more interesting/exciting aspects of my days.

That said, this was a pretty exciting week. I can say with confidence that no one celebrates the 4th of July like the ex-pat community!

On Wednesday (the 4th) our group, along with our director and our instructors went to dinner at a restaurant called “Spaghetti Jazz” – a Jazz themed Italian restaurant smack in the middle of Bangladesh. In the words of the program director, “Since the Embassy didn’t see fit to invite us to their 4th of July party, we are going to eat Italian food and drink French wine and Dutch beer.” Although the Italian food was a bit of a stretch (my fettuccine alfredo tasted like it was made with sweetened condensed milk), the evening was fun, and we were there for a few hours. We all sang The Star Spangled Banner (for the benefit of our teachers) before departing. Below is a picture of me with Fatema, my favorite teacher. She’s a non-practicing Muslim whose husband is British, and she’s only back in Bangladesh for the summer. She was thrilled to be having a glass of wine, as were the rest of us!

After the dinner, we all (the students that is) decided to check out a “private” 4th of July party we had heard about from a guy that lives next door. The party was at someone’s house, and was being held on the roof. Most people had left by the time we got there, but it didn’t matter to us… All 17 of us made it a new party. There was a guy who was acting DJ for the party, and we all just started dancing with the 10 or 12 people who were still there. It was both fun and funny. They had decorated the place with Christmas lights and red, white, and blue streamers. We stayed for about an hour, all of us dancing the whole time. I imagine if anyone was watching it was a pretty hilarious sight, all things considered. A picture of one of my classmates, Alex, playing foosball at the party is below.

Everyone struggled to stay awake during class on Thursday, and consequentially opted not to go to the 4th of July party being sponsored by a local U.S. Marine unit that night.

It didn’t however, keep us from going to yet another 4th of July party on Friday (the 6th). This party was held at a place called the “American Club,” which is basically a complex where you go to pretend you’re still in America. They have a pool, gym, playground, mini theatre, bar, restaurant, etc. They serve food like potato salad, pork spare-ribs, corn on the cob, apple pie, and the like. To take advantage of these things, one must purchase a membership and pay dues. As a matter of principle, we are discouraged from going to the American club, as it’s pretty contrary to learning about Bangladeshi culture. Independence Day (or at least the celebration of it) seemed like a legitimate exception. Our neighbor, who is a Marine and a member of the club, invited all of us and offered to sponsor our entry (you don’t have to pay membership dues if you are sponsored by a member, but you do have to show an American passport). It cost 700 taka to get in, which seems like so much, but in reality, it’s only $10 USD. They actually had a huge buffet of “American” food (see above), but not knowing that, we had already eaten at home. Anyway, we spent 5 hours at the American Club, all of us dancing. It was pretty ridiculous, but again, so were the other people who were there, so it didn’t much matter. It may be no surprise that we were the last people to leave the party.

All in all, it definitely ranks as the best July 4th of my life (so far!).


terris213 said...

so you have to go all the way to Bangladesh to have the "best" 4th of July of your life! that's so sad for those of us who take it for granted. you can come back and teach us a thing or two.
glad to hear that you are studying hard and taking in the culture, but you are depriving us poor souls who miss the bajeebies out of you when you don't post on a regular basis. we'll take these tasty morsels of recaps when we can get 'em!
love to you,

Sara said...

Hey Reen!!

Thanks for the update. I agree with Terri, we'll take what we can get! :) Miss you tons. Glad to see you were out exploring the area. It was quite a soggy 4th of July here. Hope school is going well. I can't wait to hear about what you learned!
Thanks for the update. I'll write soon!


Anonymous said...

You look cute in your Pic with your teacher. I can't way for you to come back so you can show me those dance moves.


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