Aside

Only in Dhaka…

…do you take a walk in search of a post office with your dad, stop so he can sign an autograph for an excited mother and daughter, then immediately almost get run over by a rogue cow. (Yes indeed, it’s almost Eid, so the streets are a-bustle with people taking home their goats and cows, and in exorbitantly rich/kind of crazy cases, their camels.)

…do you shop for new Eid clothes with your mother (after she has stopped the car on the street to chat with a chicken-seller. Live chickens. How’s that for organic, Whole Foods) and end up getting 6 yards of dark green silk as a sari. The bolts of silk come down from the shelves that reach way up over your head, and the shopkeeper dramatically unrolls them onto the tables so you can touch them and, if you like, throw them over your shoulder to see how they look with your skin.

…do you bang on the side of a car to communicate with the car’s driver. My cousin was parked in a tricky spot, and as she was maneuvering the car out, a nearby advice-giver ran over to help and started whacking the back of the car. It didn’t help, unfortunately, because as she explained to me later, there’s one kind of whacking that means go and another kind that means stop, and she doesn’t yet know the difference. (I asked Swapan Bhai, who drives our car, about this later. “Uh, yeah.” Like I was dumb for not knowing.)

…do you feel GREAT PERSONAL TRIUMPH (and those of you that know me well know what a triumph this is) when your mother agrees to you getting motorcycle lessons. I’m starting after Eid.

…do you spend all day working, on the internet with wifi from a tiny little modem that gives you 700 sq ft of wifi wherever you take it, and not have electricity in your house for three hours on the very same day.

…do you, in the very same hour, eat the sweetest grapefruit you’ll ever hope to come by and discuss short story ideas with your parents and wonder why you ever left, and itch for some proper coffee and crunchy orange leaves and the company of a few peeps still in America and wonder why you ever left.

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