January 11, 2012

A Smile of Pure Delight

He was in my class yesterday...or rather I was in his class yesterday.
I couldn't recall his name. The fact that all of the students's names have 3-4 syllables and sound almost the same,  he's also just one of the hundreds of students I get to teach each week and I've seen him only once before. But something in him caught my attention - his smile. Oh, how I loved that big smile when I called him to the board to point at the correct picture. Then he smiled at me again when I gave him 3 stars. That's when I thought of framing that  picture of pure delight!
BUT he hid it when I clicked the shutter. Maybe he didn't want the world to know that he's harelipped.

Our volunteer teaching team was given an opportunity to teach English in all classes in his school. To give all students the chance to learn English, we were spread so thinly to meeting each class only twice in 2 months and only for an hour. So yesterday was my second time to teach in his class, but it wont be the last. Of all classes, his got 3 slots so I'll be seeing him one more time....How can I tell him it's okay to show his big smile?

December 4, 2011

Daddy's Girl...Like Mother Like Daughter

"I read your blog in my office." 
Those words came as a beautiful tune and set my heart to dancing. My Pa reads my blog. Hah! I can't be prouder. 
I skyped with him this morning and was excited to hear that he just got back from Macau and Hong Kong. It's not his first trip abroad. He's been to Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand. But I'm just thrilled to hear stories from his trips especially to places I've been so I asked a time to skype with him. Guess, I'm just being a Daddy's girl.

As I watched my daughter the way she relates to her Dad with much endearment, I could identify with her. 
I wished I have photos of my moments with my Pa to show my daughter how much I'm like her. 

On the train to Malaysia in 2010
My children are blessed to be born in digital age and I enjoy the job of framing moments for them.

On the train from Penang to Thailand in 2010
I can no longer remember the details being alone with my Pa but I know the feeling was always of love and security when he was around.

In Bangkok on January 1, 2009
"Think first before making a move." That's what he would always tell me when playing chess with him. "Don't ask for help unless you've used up your brains." Sounds strict but that's how he motivated me to pursue academic independence. I aimed high because I was confident that he's there to catch me if I fall. He did and never failed.

On the plane to the Philippines in July 2009. Naomi always wants a seat beside Dad.
So this morning, we talked about his recent trip. I mused as I listened. I knew what he's talking about. I've been to those places, and even to more countries than he's been to. At some point, we're even. I'm no longer that little girl anymore. I've grown and now have my own "daddy's girl". 
My Pa reads my blog, and he'll be reading this soon. He will smile and his heart will dance to the same tune I'm dancing now. 
Happy *Father's Day to my beloved Papa. I'm older than 40 now but a part of me is still a "papa's girl".

The only picture of me and my Pa together.

*In Thailand, where I reside at present, Father's Day is celebrated every 5th of December, in time of his majesty King Bhumibol's birthday.

November 14, 2011

There's Another World Out There!

I was enjoying my milk tea and roti in the living room when I saw Nashima came in from the kitchen and was ready to leave the house through the main door. "Wait!" I grabbed my camera and, with hand gestures, asked her to pose for me.

Nashima, though shy, was kind enough to pose for me.
When I'm in a foreign land I tend to get too excited taking pictures of everything that appears different from my own culture. I have to remind myself to be careful not to be too aggressive with my camera. I don't want people to feel violated and harassed so I would always ask permission before I take photos of people.
But I think I got too excited when I saw Nashima with that jar. She was like one of the women I saw in Bible stories! I felt being transported back in time.
Nashima preparing the coconut for a curry dish.

But Nashima is a woman of today. She is not wearing a costume or acting a role of a woman in the Bible story. She is living out her normal life. A kind of life most women in Bangladesh lived.

Nashima using boti in the kitchen.
Nashima is my friend's neighbor. My friend asked Nashima to come to help her prepare food for me and another friend. I watched her skillfully worked with both hands peeling onions with that boti, a unique tool she used to cut and slice vegetables. Her hands moved so fast against the blade that I had to take several shots to get a clear picture. Her foot kept the tool stood still on the floor. I was fascinated. Bengali kitchen is very different from mine.

I sat beside Nashima and as I watched her work, I was beginning to wonder.... Is she happy with her life? Her life, seem to me, is bound in the kitchen. No wonder why Bengali dishes taste very delicious. It's a lot of work to prepare each dish.

She worked quietly and at few times threw a glance toward me. I smiled each time our eyes met. She never smiled back. How I hoped she would show me a sign of happiness in her countenance. She didn't. I thought she also didn't approve of me watching her every move.

It was only after she left that I realized that she would tilt her head each time I smile at her. Oh, how I forgot I was in another culture!

Just like in India, a subtle tilt of the head could mean a thousand words in Bangladesh. It's a way to connect to people. And when I started doing the same instead of the usual smile I learned in my culture, I felt more locally attuned and that made a big difference.

October 23, 2011

The Sun Rises in Bangladesh

 It was the biggest sun I've seen!
My camera couldn't capture the sight as we were moving very fast so I used my friend's more advanced camera and though it worked well, still it's nearer and clearer to behold with my naked eye.

 It looked like a red fire ball above the misty green field.
The country's banner then made more sense to me.

Verses came flooding to my mind as I behold such magnificent and powerful thing that could scorch the whole earth!

Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed,
 for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22 (NIV)

 Because of tender o f God's tender mercy, 
the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, 
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, 
and to guide us to the path of peace.
Luke 1:78-79 (NLT)

As we drove fast at dawn from Dinajpur down to Khulna for 12 hours,
the sun traveled with us to the extreme side.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, 
so great is his love for those who fear him;
 as far as the east is from the west, 
so far has he removed our transgressions from us. 
Psalm 103: 11-12 (NIV)

So, now when I wake up in the morning, I'm reminded that the sun also rises in Bangladesh, 
even more beautifully.

Scripture and a Snapshot

October 18, 2011

Images of the Floods in Thailand

Yes, it's floods in plural form. 
Monsoon rains and high tide caused extensive flooding in Thailand. Many provinces are already underwater and we, in Bangkok, are not yet safe. In fact, many areas in Bangkok are already flooded.

I admit, I'm hooked watching the news on TV and on the internet these days. It's more than just curiosity. I need to know what's going on in my host country, especially so around the city where I live. And it looks like one area after another is inundated and it's getting closer to ours. 

There are many sad stories that are yet to be written and figures of loses to be reported. Thailand needs your prayers now.

Just in case you didn't hear the news yet, here are images I randomly picked from the internet. You will find more details if you clicked on the link under each photo.

Thai mahouts ride their elephants through the flooded streets October 10, 2011 in Ayutthaya, Thailand.  Around 200 factories closed in the central Thai province of Ayutthaya because of flooding, which is posing a threat to Bangkok as well. Over 260 people have died in flood-related incidents since late July according to the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation. Some areas of the country are experiencing the worst flooding in 50 years, mainly in the centre, north and northeast.
Photograph by: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images
Photo from Bangkok Post on 10-15-2011
Photo from TMG Buzz on 10-10-2011 

Photo from The Nation on 10-14-2011
Photo from Ottawa Citizen on 10-17-2011
A food vendor gives change to a customer along a flooded street in the town of Sena, Ayutthaya province
Photo from The Telegraph

One thing you may want to note in all these photos is the CALMNESS amid calamity. Life goes on and you don't see much negative emotions. That is very Thai.

October 14, 2011

My Rose of Sharon is Blooming But.....

I finally have my first bloom! After months of waiting, my Rose of Sharon is now flowering but may not last long as we are expecting a flash flood anytime soon.The major river in our city is overflowing and heavy rain is expected. We have secured the house and I only hope that the flood would not be as bad as expected so my garden will be safe. Read more....

September 26, 2011

We have one but fragile life....

The sudden death of a dear uncle is still a shock to me until now. We chatted online and 2 days after that I received  the sad news. He's in his prime age where his business was booming and his first 2 sons graduated from college while the other 2 are also finishing their degrees. He's just gotten his new SUV and life seemed pretty normal until that day when he collapsed at work. Heart attack, that's what they said.

Every now and then, my husband and I would talk about our own death to kind of prepare us for what is sure to come. It's hard not to get emotional but the more we talk about it, the easier it gets. "It's part of being responsible parents" he said. "I know that God will take care of our family but we also need to make a plan for the children."  So we have made some agreements on how it would be if either one of us go first.  We had to talk about things like education funds for the children. Maybe we also need to talk more about insurances like accident or Medicare supplement plans and even Social Security Administration. With the passing away of my uncle recently, the more we talked about those things more seriously.

Aside from preparing for our own exit from this side of life, my husband and I are now more conscious about taking care of ourselves.We are not getting any younger! We are given only one life and we have to be good stewards of that precious life that is given to us. I am not afraid of death because it is my entry point to my eternal home with my Heavenly Father. But if I could add a minute to my life here on earth, I would do so and make the most it.

Have you talked with your spouse or loved ones about these things? I know that no matter how we prepare for it, still, it would come hard and difficult but God will surely take care of us when we get there.

For such is God, Our God forever and ever; He will guide us until death. 
Psalm 48:14