Bad headscarf deal

Why is the dress code of Turkish Muslim women so bulky and provincial?

Giant lobster alert (oldschool tech haunts me from 2009)

I dropped my camera last June and never saw it (or my kitchen party photos) again, which has considerably hampered my participation in the compulsive documentation of everyday life. In July I rediscovered the joys of my Minolta and the delayed, yet modest, gratification from seeing your manual film camera prints. So now I’d taken…

Weird shit story no. 3: soap and the hereditary unclean

We came to visit a Dalit (Hindu casteless people) NGO, Parittran, outside Khulna (in fact, right next to that stretch of bad road I wrote about). These guys were the only angry ones I met during the visits. They had a burn in their eyes, a grudge, a seething knowledge of all the injustice they…

Cuanto es cuento?

It’s been a peculiar ten days in Khulna (south-west Bangladesh) where I’ve been doing Field Research with a team of colleagues. The topic was ‘what do these local NGOs think about/intend to do about climate change?’ so you’d expect some pretty sober accounts. But while trying to work out what the hell was happening, a…

Chinese takeaway with extra helpings of eyeshadow

Soooooo last night my two film-making Quebecois neighbours invited me over for Chinese takeout dinner and to meet the subjects of their documentary: the godmother of Dhaka’s hijras and her favourite disciple. Hijras are transvestites who have a special place in South Asian society… as far as I’ve understood, they are some sort of beggars/witches/gypsies/fairy…

Modest Disney

A rickshaw gives you a great vantage point to check out life around the streets: park, commuters in buses (scratched and dented to a degree where they look like they’ve been driven through a narrow tunnel and the chassis squeezed to fit), sidewalk-dwellers wrapping up against the glare of the streetlamps to sleep, looking disconcertingly…

recycle? Just get someone to do it for you.

I bought five bananas last week. I eat one or two each morning with muesli. By day 3 the bunch was starting to look manky and I knew that ugly things would happen if I left the remaining two bananas out on the shelf. But it would also be bad if I put them in…

Carbon Godzilla

This year my lovelife will be trans-continental: Bangladesh to Britain, follwed shortly by Bangladesh to Brazil. I have 30 days of annual leave. My immediate family also lives on a different continent. Hence, my emotional and physical wellbeing rests heavily, heavily on the possibility of taking long-distance airplane journeys at regular intervals. According to the…

Earthquake?

I woke up at 4.48 last night because my bed was shaking from side to side. It shook for a little while, then abated. After a few moments it shook again. By this point I’d decided that I was feeling an earthquake and needed to consider my options. I knew the location of my trousers,…

The friendly saucer

Anecdote of the day, from my colleague who travelled to Gujarat for three months: “In Gujarat they have this habit: they drink tea not from a cup, but from a shallow dish. When you come to someone’s house they offer you tea to drink in this way. So I was curious, I asked ‘don’t you…

Dhaka smells good

I’ve only been out of Bangladesh for two weeks, but this return felt different from before: it smells good. I arrived around 4-5 pm and after I (and several whole clans on family visits using their British passports in the Foreigners queue) cleared immigration and came out, Dhaka had an after-the-rain look saturated with colour…

Money and laundering

Here are the ways to get clean clothes in Dhaka: Send clothes to the laundry with the dudes-who-clean. Comes back after 5-6 days, boiled, beaten and finally, mangled. You can use the shirts for roof tiles. Highly impressive, albeit a bit harsh on the clothes. You then have to remember to cut the little note…

The mighty Buff

Water buffaloes! They make cows look scrappy and badly put together. Granite flanks, Barbara Hepworth curves! I asked my colleague which animal is more expensive, a cow or a water buffalo. He said “The water buffalo. Because they are mighty.” That’s riiiiight!

Take heed for after the apocalypse

Spending last week on a field trip involved a lot of sitting in the car and watching the rice harvest in Chapai Nawabgonj. As we sped through villages and towns, scattering anything smaller than the landcruiser onto the road verges and terrifying righteous pedal-power travellers, it gave a good overview of the different harvest phases….