A great day in Dhaka

1st, 3rd, and 7th graders at AISD: All were attentive and enthusiastic. The older students had great questions! Today I'll be seeing fifth grade, and then doing two more presentations–to teachers in the afternoon and parents in the evening.

After the 7th-grade session, I went back to the hotel and had a nice lunch: cream of tomato soup and a tandoori-chicken sandwich on beautifully flaky naan-style bread. The food at the hotel is really good. Then, a special treat: Marina, who teaches Bangla language and culture, picked me up to go pearl shopping!

Marina took me to two shops. With her help, I chose the size, color, and shape of the pearls I wanted, then the length and type of clasp. Most of the pieces will be delivered today, but a couple were made right then and there:

Dhaka pearl

dhaka pearls

Small white pearls, right, and larger gray ones, both strung on clear 'fishing line' so they look like they're floating.

Marina did the haggling on my behalf. She's an impressively accomplished bargainer, and I was truly grateful–I'm terrible at haggling.

A quick swim in the hotel pool, then it was off to a very special dinner. Joya is an administrative assistant at the school. She and her family welcomed me and several teachers into their home for a feast of Bangla food!

dhaka phuchka
Phuchka: a crisp, paper-thin shell of fried lentil paste holds a stuffing of mashed potato, chick peas and chilis. I ate two, and had to physically restrain myself from gobbling the whole lot.

After phuchkas and lovely bite-sized samosas (filled with ground beef, Bengali style), we went in to the dining room where the long table was loaded with food: rice and naan; chicken, beef, coconut shrimp, several vegetable dishes, homemade pickles…every dish beautifully presented and so aromatic!

Dhaka eggplant
Two kinds of eggplant: fried crisp in rounds, sweet and silky in strips.

"The riverbank was lined with men selling freshly cooked hilsha fish; the smell was almost unendurably delicious. More than anything, I longed for my mother to augment her already lavish picnic with a pair of hot bought hilsha fish."
–from SCENES FROM EARLY LIFE, by Philip Hensher.

I had read this passage just a few days ago, and immediately wanted to try hilsha (or hilsa) fish. I was taken to a seafood restaurant my first night here; alas, no hilsa. But there on Joya's table…

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A pair of hot hilsha fish! Joya explained that it had been cooked in a pressure cooker, which softened the small bones and made them completely edible.

Dhaka Joya
With the gracious hostess. I was also delighted to meet Joya's husband and parents.

A final note, literally: When I got back to the hotel, I found this letter in my room:

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So far this morning I have not had a laundry emergency.