News!

This past month has been pretty awesome.  We went on our first R&R, which was a much-needed and thoroughly enjoyed four-week break from Dhaka.  And we found out where we are headed for our next post: MUSCAT, OMAN!

The first time I heard of Muscat, I was like, “Isn’t that a kind of wine?”  I had no idea it was a capital city, much less the capital city of a country I didn’t even really know existed. Oman isn’t in the news very much and I’ve never really bragged about my Middle Eastern geographical knowledge.  Thank goodness for Google.

After spending a lot of time on the internet and talking to as many people as we could about our decision to rank Muscat highly on our bid list, we are really happy we got one of our top choices. Yes, Oman is a conservative country (but not as conservative as, for instance, Saudi Arabia) and it’s really hot for a lot of the year, but Muscat is right on the water, outdoor activities abound, there’s hardly any crime, and the climate is apparently perfect four months out of the year. And there are not tons of people and cars everywhere, we’ll be able to travel through the country, we could drive to Dubai, and there is hardly any air pollution!  We’ll be able to go camping on the beach, snorkeling, explore the dessert, and take Athena for walks outside again.  Even she’ll be able to go swimming in the Gulf. People other than our parents want to come and visit us!

I’m sure there will be challenges and difficulties that I can’t foresee.  God only knows there were/are plenty here in Dhaka.  But for now we are pretty fricking excited!

Almost a year in

I can’t believe we’ve been here almost a year.  What a time it has been.

The other day a good friend pointed out to me that I haven’t been blogging lately.  It’s hard to blog when things are “meh.” I wrote a post on our recent trip to Kuala Lumpur (which was so much fun) and then the pictures wouldn’t load onto WordPress, so I gave up on publishing it.  But things have been happening around here, and life goes on.

A few weeks ago there was a craft bazaar at the Canadian High Commission.  One of the vendors had this massive etched brass plate with elephants and stuff on it, and when I asked the price he quoted me something outrageous. So I asked where his shop was, figuring I could go see the plate there and maybe get a better price.  I went a few days ago, and there, again, was the plate.  I asked how much it cost, and the price did indeed come down significantly.  He told me it was 450 years old and from the Mughal era.  If that’s not a dubious claim, I don’t know what is.  It looks old, but not that old.  Who knows, maybe it’s new and they buried it in some dirt to make it look old. I told Nate it’s supposedly a Mughal plate, and he said that would make us archeological artifact smugglers if we bought it, assuming it is indeed that old.  I got the shopkeeper to come down to what I consider a reasonable price for a big metal plate with an interesting design of unknown age/origin, so we’ll see what happens.

The ayah has started giving me unsolicited directions on child-rearing.  We started feeding M solid foods when he turned six months old, and we’d been giving him purees for breakfast and dinner.  The other day, around noon, I was holding M with one hand and peeling a banana with the other.  M was lurching towards the banana, clearly very interesting.  The ayah saw this, and said, “You give him breakfast and dinner.  Why no lunch?”  So now M gets lunch too, which I suppose was bound to happen eventually anyway since most people do, in fact, eat lunch.  One night Nate and I came home around 7:30 and M was already in his pjs.  She said “He needs milk and then he goes to sleep.”  Yes m’am.

Our apartment is long and narrow, and all the windows on the long side border a single family home, the yard of which we can see into easily. One night we heard tons of barking and it turned out they’d gotten a dog.  A large, full-grown dalmatian, to be exact. During the day they chained it up to this covered area in the front yard, and the chain was maybe 4 feet long.  The dog barked like mad pretty much all day long, and Athena was in a perpetual tizzy.  They gave the dog food and water, and their gardener touched it with a long stick every time he went near it, but thankfully we never saw anyone be mean to the dog.  And he treated the stick like a toy/scratching pole.  Then after about four days of non-stop barking, everything was quiet and the dog was gone.  In fact, it now looks like the dog was never even there.  No chain, no water dish, nothing.  Who knows where the dog went, but Nate and I have decided that they had a weekend visitor that insisted on bringing their dog with them.  It’s the most reasonable and humane explanation we could think of.

Oh, one of my toenails fell off.  I’m almost 100% certain it’s because of a bad pedicure from La Femme. I’ve never lost a toenail before, even with marathon training, so this is uncharted territory.  I’m just glad it never got infected.  That’s Dhaka for you… even my toenails are like “What the fuck.”

Now I’m going to figure out how to finally get the pictures into the Kuala Lumpur post!

The one where everyone sweated

If there’s anything I’ve learned about Bangladeshi cooking at this point, it’s that it is not only delicious, it’s also usually pretty spicy.  Sometimes I have to literally pick out the chilies.

This week we made butter chicken using one of the spice packets that Nate bought at the Bangladeshi market.  It was good, although a bit spicier than I’d anticipated. During the course of eating dinner, we managed to use up all the kleenexes in the vicinity.

I was telling my officemate about the shit-ton of Bangladeshi spice mixes that we have at home, and she mentioned that she was going to make a curry but didn’t have any curry powder.  “No problem!” I said, “I’ll give bring you a spice mix to use!”

I brought her a spice packet from the box labelled “quorma,” and she made it that night for dinner. Later I got a text from her saying that the curry was “really good” and “really spicy.”

Uh-oh… how spicy is really spicy?  Then she said “I couldn’t eat it all, my mouth is on fire.”

Oops. I felt terrible.

Apparently her husband sat there eating dinner with sweat rolling down his face.

I apologized repeatedly, and she advised me to only use half the spice packet when we make the quorma, which is definitely advice I’ll be taking to heart.