Write about a defining moment in your life when you were forced to grow up in an instant(or Instants).
After spending two years in the local college in Comilla my hometown in Bangladesh. I suddenly realized I was too unhappy to continue my education in the same college.I must look for a different one, a girl’s college, but the only one I could go to was in the big city.
I packed my things and traveled by train at 3 AM in the morning to Dhaka, in Bangladesh. When I reached the college and met some of my classmates in the college dormitory, I realized instantly it was my time to grow up.
Mom and my siblings won’t be there to complain or talk about my new classmates, good or bad, I’d have to, ‘grin and bear it’ I had some help from a friend of my parents who lived in the same city, who did more than I could ask from a real uncle.
He invited me to go to his house every week-end. I was slowly getting used to living far away from my home. This is where my process of growing up was happening. Occasionally I felt a twinge of pain, I tried to overcome it by starting a conversation with my uncle or the classmates in college whoever happened to be there at that time, but it was persistent, I tried to fight it off by concentrating on stories my classmates used to tell me, but it was not easy.
The only antidote for my pain were the songs I learned in school when I was in third standard, in presentation convent school, I used to sit by myself and hum the tune. Those childhood memories took me to a world where I had the most fun.
Look out you back window or door__ describe what you see,as if you were trying to convey the scene to someone from another country or planet.
This is an imaginary dialogue with my brother, who’s visiting me from Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Me: Hey Riaz, come and see the scene from my back window.
Riaz: Ranu, your backyard is large, don’t you grow some vegetables and flowers?
Ranu: We have a bed where we planted some perennials.
Riaz: What are perennials?
Ranu : These are variety of flowers, like tulips, daffodils and peonies,petunias. Once you plant them, you do not have to plant them again they come year after year. This way is cheaper, not like annuals they have to be planted every year.
Riaz: Who mows your lawn, it looks beautiful, I like how green the grass is?
Ranu: I used to mow the lawn one time but as you can see the land is not flat, I found it challenging to continue mowing. I had to hire the lawn care people. Their company is called, “Affordable Lawn Care,” I’ve often told the owner the name of your company should be named , “Unaffordable Lawn Care”.
Riaz : Who owns these trees?
Ranu : One beside the driveway on the right side, belongs to us, the other one in the middle of our lawn and the neighbor’s, belongs to my next door neighbor.
Riaz: the leaves of these trees are very interesting , what is the name of the trees?
Ranu: They are maple trees, in the Autumn the leaves fall off the trees and the trees are bare. When you see them in the winter, you might think the trees are dead, but this is not the case. In Spring the leaves begin to show up by summer the trees are covered with leaves.
Riaz: I see your neighbor’s roof, what is it covered with?
Ranu: They are shingles, they last for over twenty years. Now that you’ve seen my backyard what do you think?
Riaz: Your backyard is awesome, it is worth it to hire professionals to look after it.
Pinpoint a moment in your past where you had to make a big decision.Write about that other alternate life that could have unfolded.
When I was in Dhaka, Bangladesh, I saw an ad for a teaching job in Islamabad, Pakistan. I applied for the job,the headmistress of the school came to Dhaka to interview the applicants. There were six of us competing for that one job. I was called in first, the headmistress was a nice lady, she asked me about my experience,where I taught and how I learned to speak Urdu.
I told her I lived in Rawalpindi Pakistan, where my father worked. We left the city after my father passed away.
I was immediately offered the job, though there were other applicants yet to be interviewed. I thought about the distance I’d have to travel from Comilla ,Bangladesh, to Islamabad Pakistan. I asked her if there was a hostel nearby where I could stay.
When the headmistress told me the nearest place to stay was forty miles from the school, I was concerned, I wasn’t sure the distance from the hostel to the school would be convenient for me to travel everyday. I asked my sister, she told me it was a bad idea to take this job.
I declined the job and carried on with my job in the school where I was already employed.
Had I taken that job the alternate life that could have unfolded for me would be frustration for accepting a job so far away from my original home, I’d probably dislike myself for taking a stupid decision. Eventually I know I’d quit the job and come home.
When was the last time a stranger did something particularly kind, generous, or selfless for you? Tell us what happened!
In 2010, I was travelling from Dhaka Bangladesh to St. John’s, NL ,Canada. It was a long trip. It took six hours to land at Doha ,Qatar, Middle East. We were barely in the lounge when an announcement was made that our connecting flight to London,Heathrow was boarding, after another seven hours we landed at Heathrow airport, we were told we’d have to go through customs before we boarded the flight to Montreal.
Lack of sleep and rest was taking a toll on my body. The flight from London to Montreal was over seven hours. This was the first time we were not expected to board the next flight immediately. I remember sitting on the bench in the lounge. Next thing I felt was someone shaking me I opened my eyes and found a very sweet flight attendant asking me if I was all right. I was embarrassed I told her I didn’t mean to fall asleep, it just happened.
Going from one airport to another without rest in between exhausted me. I recall telling her all the airports I went through and how tired I was must be the reason my body could not handle the stress anymore. She was very understanding, she told me she’d take me to the the aircraft cabin before the other passengers were called for boarding. I was very thankful to her for being so kind!
Six months after my father passed away, we packed our bags and left Rawalpindi and arrived in Dhaka city, capital of Bangladesh. We stayed with my Dad’s youngest brother for a few days.
My eldest brother made arrangements to go by train to my maternal grandpa’s village home. We stayed in grandpa’s home for almost a year.
My brother took several trips to the little town named Comilla in Bangladesh. After months of looking around he found a home which in his estimation, was perfect for us. He bought the house and came back to the village to take us, my mom and the siblings to live in our new home.
It was nothing extraordinary it was a relatively smaller house than the one we lived in Rawalpindi. My mom was happy, we the siblings felt all right, it was a home we had to get used to , that we did in a very short time.
Next thing was to find a school for us to get registered in, my brother located a school which was near our home.It was run by nuns, they offered both English and Bengali medium of instruction.
The school was divided into two sections, one was for students who registered for English medium, the other one was for Bengali medium students.
My brother told me to take my siblings to school to get registered , the three older ones for English medium and the two younger ones in Bengali medium. Upon questioning my brother’s intentions for registering the siblings in two different mediums, I was told it was cost effective. I was fourteen then and didn’t quite comprehend what he meant, but did as I was told.
I was yet to know what will happen to me, the school only had up to six grades, I could not register in a lower grade because I was in third standard when we left Rawalpindi, it was equivalent to grade eight. My brother hired a tutor to coach me at home to prepare me for high school exams privately.
The tutor’s whole appearance gave me a very negative attitude, his demeanor, the way he spoke, his English pronunciation, everything was distasteful to me.
After about three days I announced I did not want a tutor, I’ll study by myself. My brother was not convinced he arranged with one of the nuns in the school where my younger siblings were studying to give me private lessons once or twice a week.
The Principal agreed, my attitude towards homework annoyed them, they declared they didn’t have enough time to give me private lessons.
I was glad with my freedom from two tutors I knew were not capable of helping me, and the fees they charged was more than my mom could afford.
Thus began my journey of helping myself to get through the ordeal of preparation for high school exams or face the possibility of ending up married to someone who’d be close to my Dad’s age. It wasn’t a rosy picture for me.
I wrote page three of my autobiography. For now I’ll end here. If anyone is interested I’d be more than glad to continue!
Situated on the banks of the river Buriganga, is Dhaka City, the capital of Bangladesh. In year 2011, it’s population was 16 million, it is the ninth largest and 28th most densely populated city in the world.
The climate is mild in winter and extremely hot in summer. The monsoon season gives some relief , it cools off the temperature to a certain extent.
After partition in 1947, the population has grown more than the city can handle. With the increasing number of people one would expect the transportation should improve, it hasn’t. There are a large number of the population who drive without a license. driving schools do not exist, but life goes on.
I left the city after my marriage and occasionally visited it because of the expensive air fare.
In 2010 I went to Dhaka for some personal reasons. When I got out of the building to find my brother, what I saw around me was not only unbelievable but scary too.Inside the building passengers with valid tickets are the only ones who are allowed to go in. Outside there are thousands peeking in, may be they came to greet their family members. Some that were there did not belong, they ranged from pick pockets to kidnappers to other miscreants.
I cautiously came out and looked for my brother, there were beggars a plenty asking for money, cab drivers came forward asking me if I needed a ride home. Then there were young boys with their cell phone volunteering to let me use it if I wanted to call my family members.Amidst all this chaos it was tough to stay calm.Thankfully I spoke the local language. All these people realized I was not just a visitor, but a bona fide citizen.
After crossing the hurdle of getting out of the building in one piece. Next my brother had to tell these people who were crowding the place to get out of our way. I finally got inside my brother’s car, the ride from the airport to my brother’s home was another obstacle I had to overcome.
The roads were blocked by all kinds of traffic, the car was crawling, even then it seemed it was a trying experience, just when the driver thought he’d speed up, crossing in front of him was a herd of cattle. The driver had to let them go, but the cycle rickshaw driver thought it was an opportune moment for him to overtake the car.
We had probably gone a few yards, when to our dismay we found behind us a huge public bus roaring in, the driver stopped on the side, unfortunately there were several other buses following the first bus driver one after the other, each of these buses have one guy who yells out, “move on the side.”
Then there are personalized chauffeur driven cars, the drivers are extremely arrogant, because they don’t own the vehicles they drive like lunatics, the feeling is if it is damaged the owner will fix it. If one had to deal with one mode of transportation, it probably would not be that bad.
The types of transportation are private, public, and personalized vehicles . The primary ones are a) pedestrians, b) cycle rickshaws, c) transit and non-transit.
Transit mode is motorized public transport system which includes bus,small motorized vehicles e.g, cars, and light vehicles such as three wheeled cycle rickshaws which can have only one or two passengers. There are very few lights, most of the time they do not work. The traffic is mostly controlled by traffic police.
Personalized services are taxis, auto rickshaws are three wheeled mechanically operated vehicles , its body is manufactured locally, the chassis and the engine are imported. Next there are human haulers these are small four wheeled contraption hauled by humans, used mostly to carry various kinds of goods.
Dhaka city is also known as the ‘Rickshaw Capital Of The World’, there are four hundred thousand cycle rickshaws moving on the streets of Dhaka city, along with all the other modes of transportation.
When I finally reached my brother’s home, I realized how difficult it is for the people who live there, or may be they do not think about it because they are used to it.
I was not used to it, when I lived there, the population was manageable. There were not that many cars, buses or auto rickshaws. Life was simple, very few people owned cars. It is completely different now.
I live in a small city. There are private cars, buses. What’s more people obey the traffic signs.
The title of one of the books in our ,”Teaching English As A Foreign language,” was ,’As Others see us’. We had fun reading some of the things pointed out by foreign travelers to the city of London, England.
A gentleman was visiting London from somewhere in Africa. On his first day in London, he went to see the famous tube station , “King’s Cross”, not long after he arrived, he noticed a train coming in , it made a moments stop the doors opened, hundreds of passengers came out with long umbrellas which to him looked like guns, he thought all those people were pointing at him and were coming to attack him, without waiting even a second, he ran to the exit and disappeared.
On another occasion there was another traveler visiting London for the first time. At 6 pm he walked out of his hotel to see what the evenings in London’s residential area looked like.
He walked along a posh neighborhood street, as he was walking he noticed the drapes of houses were drawn, the street was dark.
When asked about his impression of the city, he smiled and said,”I would call it a dead city.”
I wanted to make a comparison of London with Dhaka city.
Dhaka as you know is in Bangladesh, it’s the capital. I went a few years ago, I could not believe how different it was when I lived there.
Now the city is several times larger and there is no law and order anywhere, on the streets, neighborhood, shopping, one just has to pretend it will be okay, but is it?
You will find all kinds of vehicles moving on the most important roads, there is the rickshaw driver taking his time peddling with a passenger or two, the shepherd is going along the road with his herd of cattle. There are public buses, that look like giants driven by lunatics . They have a man who tells everyone to move to be safe.
There are private cars, school buses, cabs, auto rickshaws , then there are pedestrians who probably pray all the time they are on the road so they are not killed.
I was appalled by the situation, we do have travelers who visit the city, I wonder what kind of impression they take home with them.
The best part is there are traffic lights, but no one follows them, when it is red the vehicles start moving. I ask the question, “why do they have lights if they are not going to obey?”
You’d be surprised what one of them said to me, “At least we have lights!”
“For what”? I asked.
He could not answer my question.
I sat and wondered, which is better a quiet residential area at 6 pm in the evening or the roads of a city with noisy bus drivers,all kinds of vehicles, from a rickshaw to a cab, to shepherds with their cattle and those innocent pedestrians, who cannot be sure they will arrive home safely.
If I had to give my honest opinion I’d say, “No wonder we are one of the developing countries!”
Write a piece about a typically “local” experience from you come from as though it’s an entry in a travel guide.
A visitor to our city would be enthralled by some of our bazaars. There is a delicious environment of food. The chefs take pride in their art of cooking. If the visitor enjoys food, he will not be disappointed, it is cheap, tasty and colorful.
Here is a video which shows the varieties of food:
Tell us about the time you flew into a rage. What is it that made you so incredibly angry?
My mom loved collecting, attractive glasses and china. When I was in the university in Dhaka I found a crockery store, they had the most beautiful china and glasses.
I bought a few glasses and china for my mom from that store, my mom was so happy to see them ,I thought it was the best thing I did to put a smile on my mother’s face.
Mom had a china cabinet, she proudly put the china ware I gave her. I went back to school and planned to buy some more, mom would have a nice collection I felt.
When I went home to Comilla the first thing I noticed was my mom’s china cabinet was empty, I was disappointed I asked my mother about the china, she told me my good for nothing brother flew into a rage one day and broke every single piece I bought. He was angry because my mom could not give him the money to watch a movie.
I was upset,not only he broke my mother’s heart by breaking the china, he could not control his stupid temper, he broke everything he could, I’m telling you he is so useless, he did not study, he never worked and has this evil habit of watching movies and smoking, two awful habits, mom had to pay for or else his temper would rise to a maximum, I wish he left home and never came back!
“If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere,” goes the famous song about New York City. Is there a place — a city, a school, a company — which you think (or thought) the same? Tell us why, and if you ever tried to prove that claim.
I did not exactly think, “If I can make it there, I can make it anywhere,” after completing my education I was confident, I’d get a job teaching anywhere in Dhaka city. I thought that due to the fact I had the required qualification.
I had proved that time and time again, I was right. I applied in several schools each time I was selected for the job.It was in Bangladesh.
When I moved to Canada to join my husband, it was no longer true. There were various reasons why my thought was no longer valid such as: I was an immigrant, I was a complete stranger and I was not a Caucasian also I was over-qualified. The last one confused me the most, the word over-qualified brought me down to reality. Are they telling me somehow I’m not eligible to teach because I have too many degrees, can this be a determining factor?
Where I come from they are ready to offer you a job if you are highly qualified, they don’t even call you for an interview. How can it be so different here?
I smiled and told the principal, “it is not a bad thing to be educated or is it?”
He smiled and said nothing.
I did get a job after a few months, but the initial reaction of these people confused me!
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