One of the Charles family traditions that my Grandmother started is that instead of exchanging Christmas gifts we share a story about something which happened to us during the year. This is the story I wrote a little belatedly this year and decided to send it out as my latest update.
“It’s the simple things”
I’d like to say that I’m an easily contented person, but I’d probably be lying. I’d like to live simply, but I don’t do a very good job. For instance, biking is a simple pleasure, but somehow in my enjoyment of biking I ended up with 5 bikes and a unicycle. This is not to say that I find contentment in stuff, it’s just that I don’t feel contented as often as I’d like.
This summer I ended up wandering around Europe for a while. I went for LinuxTag, staying to do some more work and a bit of vacation. With a memorial day holiday thrown in, I spent a good long while away from home in North Carolina and by the time I got back my roomate had gotten a TV and cable. The journey got a little lonely at times, but at the end I was completely contented. My entire life was in my backpack and it was more than enough.
Right before I left MCC offered me a position and I told them I wasn’t going to think about it till I got back, but wandering around with nothing but your own thoughts or the meditative worship at Taize isn’t exactly the best situation for ignoring decisions. I think at some level the desire to simply led to my decision to come to Bangladesh with MCC. The idea being that by putting yourself in such a new situation, you can be confronted with your wants and desires. I have no desire to be an acetic, but I’m not sure I want to be distracted from the things I think matter.
Last week I moved to Bogra. Bogra is where I’ll be based for foreseeable future. On the whole I think I’m enjoying Bogra more than Dhaka. My observations have been slightly tempered by being slightly sick and the desire for a proper latte. Surprisingly enough there were several places in Dhaka where one could get good coffee. Bogra is much smaller and while it’s pretty dense downtown and has most of the things available in Dhaka, traveling a few kilometers will take you to rice patties. I’m not sure of the population of Bogra, I’m pretty sure the number listed on Wikipedia was pretty far off, but there are less than 10 Bideshi’s (expatriates) in the whole city. I haven’t seen one on the streets that I didn’t know. Right now those of us who work for MCC make up the majority of that number. We eat together for most of our meals and the majority our conversations consist of the state of our digestive system, how we’re getting along with the local food, and the things we miss. Figuring out why you miss something is sometimes very telling. Deciding how to replace it and justifying it even more so. Some of the justifications and rationalizations can be a little embarrassing.
A few days ago I used my limited Bangla to take a rickshaw downtown where I bought UHT milk, sugar, tea and an electric tea pot so I could make tea. As I walked down the last alley before getting “home” I thought about where I was. I hadn’t showered in 3 days. I had a brush burn on knee, I was in as “foreign” of a place as I’m ever going to be able to get in my life and for no discernible reason I was content.
Ami kushi – I am happy/contented.
Incidentally the electric tea pot has also been the source of a surprising amount of joy.