June 27th 2016, 6 AM, just arrived from a whole night flight to and back from Ahmedabad
My life lately? Positive isolation, removing myself from the distractions of everyday life. Harvest of interior work. Rising above what I no longer need.
Same day, Doha, Qatar, Iftar time, 6:25 PM
I’m in uniform in the bus going to the airport. At the intersection of two main roads of Doha, a truck stopped at the red light and two men take water bottles and boxes and put them on the sidewalk. Other two run fast from one car to another and distribute the water bottle and the Iftar boxes.
At this moment, while I wait for the clock to tick 6:29 PM, to be able to drink the big bottle of water I brought with me I’m not only thinking, but I FEEL that living in the Middle East is the most amazing experience of my life.
I wrote this on facebook and to my surprise, I was ironically attacked by people who live in the Middle East for quite some years. “Which part, the Ramadan?” asks one voice. Yes, actually I kept this as a secret, but I was fasting for about a week in this Ramadan and I was fasting in the day I felt this strong bond. Fasting cleared me of some dark energies I’ve been having lately, of the dirt that came out as the oil in water when I searched in my past, my childhood, my wounds, my past lives, my patterns, my family patterns, my karma, my inner male and inner female, numerology and astrology.
As you can see, I’ve been busy. And I’ve been digging every day like a crazy hamster. I’ve had sleepless nights, moments of epiphany and days of hell on Earth to b where I’m at. And I have such a long way to go, but I will not stop. Will not give up. Will take responsibility for everything in my life and will do the work for the ones around me if I have to. At all costs, I will rise.
When I started flying (to Oman; and maybe not by chance after I return from Dhaka I’m heading in an anniversary trip to Muscat), a little over a year ago, I was writing:
“Today I am starting the journey of my life, a road of self-knowledge and self-education. I am leaving to search for a spiritual awareness over a material one. I shall look for unwritten laws rather than written ones – as until now.”
Be careful what you wish for say the wise. Well, I got plenty and most of it the hard way. I’m proud of how I encountered everything that came my way and I understand our lessons come at the right time and the level of the lesson is according to the level where we are. Great challenges therefore flatter me although sometimes overwhelm me. I would write about it, but only one person in this…Universe would understand me and they would still not admit it. Keep climbing, keep evolving!
June 28th, 5AM, landed in Dhaka, Bangladesh
There are some destinations nobody is go to. Dhaka is one of them. This is my second time here and I must say I’m glad to be here (as I said before) and be able to explore the city.
First time I came with a suitcase full of coloring books, pencils, stationery and sweets and donated them to the local girls’ orphanage. Could not go there myself because of Bishwa Ijtema, a Muslim pilgrimage, second biggest after the Hajj at Mecca. The gathering is less known since, as opposed to Hajj, which is one of the pillars of Islam, Ijtema is not mandatory.
These destinations tell stories. Like the hundreds of people gathered at the airport behind some bars looking like they’re in jail, the colorful dresses of the well groomed ladies, the cage looking green tuk tuks, the no rule traffic, the tens of men sitting on top of the train while it’s moving.
And our 5 star retreat. Although I’m not impressed by 5 star hotels since I was younger than high school age, I understand we stay here mainly for safety. However, I’d love to go out and explore the real city.
So, I put on a long dress and go out in front of the hotel, get the first tuk tuk and get inside. It’s tiny, I already negotiated the price at 200 Bangladeshi Taka ($2.5) and I sit – not to relaxed – ready for the adventure. Well, going out in Dhaka IS an adventure. First of all there are about 40 degrees + and no air. Doha it’s hot, but not like this. The tuk tuks look like little cute cages, they’re tiny and with only two people inside I was feeling claustrophobic. I saw 4 in one of them.
I loved that everything is colorful, from tuk tuks to trucks and buildings, carriages and clothes. Essentially a Muslim country, each thing has a small inscription in Arabic, either with Allah or MashAllah.
The surprise of any foreigner is that there isn’t really a place to go. I had opted for a market, but as it was hot out and it was during the Holy Month of Ramadan, I entered a sort of mall to eat and look at the merchandise.
Some restaurants were opened and some are closed. Mainly foreigners, but not only. I had a mutton biryani and my friend had a big tray called Rajlokkhi Thali, described by the waiters as traditional.
After eating I dragged the poor guy – 100% Japanese, born and raised in Brazil – in many stores with traditional dresses, which I’m in love with. I dream of making my own collection of traditional dresses from around the world and I’ve started already – Lebanese, Berber motifs, Pakistani dress, Jordanian. At the beginning of the month I made my apparition in one of the dresses from Beirut at a high class wedding and it made quite an impact.
I’ve just tested the market this time and planning on doing some serious shopping next time. Well…if they stop the attacks. I was fortunate enough to be in Dhaka 3 days BEFORE the attack, so I was allowed to go out of the hotel. After the events in the diplomatic area (really?) they stopped letting people go out of the hotel.
We roamed around the market with 4 or 5 kids not going further than 10 cm away from us, repeating neurotically “money, money”. In a word they harassed us, on top of being harassed by the high temperatures.
Surroundings? Poverty, dirt, dogs, kids, men, cows in the street. Mountains of garbage, a general mess, colorful carriages. The latter were my favorite. Honestly, I thought they only exited in movies. Buses seeming to dismantle, old and rusty or colorfully painted, yet all scraped as a consequence of the most crazy traffic I’ve ever seen.
In the tuk tuk on the way back to the hotel, I could touch the bus next to us, through the grid of the tuk tuk; it was just a few centimeters away.
I’m particularly fond of the pictures in Dhaka. It’s a rare destination, a place where you learn to treasure what you have, it’s a life lesson if you know how to take it.
The kids are still following us screaming money-money every third second and by now we have aggressive thoughts. We get into a tuk tuk and we are inside and they are hanging with their small hands on the grids of the tuk tuk screaming the same chorus. The tuk tuk starts driving, but they stay there, screaming faster moneymoneymoney. The driver stops, kicks their but, gets back and starts driving. The tuk tuks have meters, but the price is negotiated before – especially for foreigners.
This was a fulfilling experience. Back in the hotel I remember of the benefits of someone waiting for you with three types of aromatic water and a lounge for your comfort. The poster of the Filipino band makes me smile, remembering the party time in the hotel bar last time I was here.
Pink frangipani by the pool and my colonial print dress from…Bangkok. I walk through the palm trees by the pool. Thinking of him, thinking about us. Although I wear long leggings under my skirt, I lay on a pool bed. Soon a yellow dragonfly rests their flight next to me. So close I can catch the details of its wings on the pool background.
Iftar time at The Army Golf Club. I have not fasted today. Together with my Tunisian and Algerian colleagues we are at the restaurant of The Army Golf Club where a dua (prayer) and Iftar meal was organized. The place is impressive in contrast with the rest of the surroundings. Clean, guarded, luxurious, decorated with sort of Christmas lights, ceremonial entrance. From the dust of the market to the luxury that here it’s reserved for the very privileged. Country of contrasts.
The Iftar is lovely, starting with the dua. I look around and there’s good energy. So many things go through my mind. Why poverty is there where there is a lot of faith. Or is faith there where there is not much?
You might think I’m crazy, but I almost though I talked to my aunt, who passed away and hear her call me kizamika, like she used to call me.
M. and myself and two more wives seem to be the only women in the place, but nobody seems to notice. It’s a good day and a good night.
Oh, I have not said how we passed the 8 lane highway. By day was almost fine, but going back, by night…such an experience. First of all, there is no public lighting. I strongly doubt the individual lights or the breaks of cars and buses. Then there is no crossing, so you have to manage. We are three, we hold hands and we just run. Oh my God, I experienced the scare of my life. They don’t slow down; they simply honk and seem to hit the gas. Adrenaline!
June 29th 2016, early, early morning, Dhaka, Bangladesh
I must say the world is sick. The hotel is organized in such a way that you can see the lobby from all floors hallways. I get out of my room dragging my trolley, my jacket and my suitcase. I stop to take a look. Lots of crew. Turkish Airlines? They’re delayed because of a bomb attack in Istanbul not long ago. Chaos, worry. What is going to happen to this world?
July 2nd 2016, ready to fly to Casablanca, Morocco
OMG, again? In January I was in a coffee shop that was blown up a week later.
Now after just returning from Dhaka, where the Turkish Airlines crew was delayed because of the horrible Istanbul attacks, I find out this.
Medina and Baghdad attacks were going to follow.