Joi Bangla!

Hello friends. Welcome or re-welcome to our blog. Tomorrow a.m. we head out (at 5am) to New York, then to Dubai, then to Dhaka, Bangladesh. Our goal during the next month that we're gone is to update this blog (hopefully with photos) once a week, in order to keep our loved ones in the loop. The same list that we used to let you know about this blog (if you got such an email; if not, you are still loved, we promise), will be used by our good friend Clayton to let you know when a blog is posted. Email communication is a bit sketchy over there, so please don't freak out if this whole thing doesn't work. Just continue to pray for us.

The trip: As alluded to before, we are spending a month of our residency programs with Malumghat Hospital in Chittagong District in rural southeastern Bangladesh. Rachel will be with an OBGYN, particularly to learn vesicovaginal fistula repairs (see Shalwar Kamesh below). Eric will be with a Family Med doc doing tropical medicine. As far as we understand it, the hospital is staffed by a number of ex-pat docs (largely Americans) and other health professionals, in conjunction with a number of Bengali nationals. We fly to Dhaka as above, arriving Sunday night, then stay in this capital city until Tuesday morning, so we can travel with a Bengali-speaking ex-pat nurse by air to Chittagong (2nd largest Bangla-city), then a few hours by land to the hospital. This extra day in Dhaka will hopefully give us a chance for a little acclimation, as well as buying Rachel some Bengali clothing. On the way back, we have a 2-3 day layover in Dubai, where, if nothing else, we're confident that we'll see some things we've never seen before. We arrive back in the US on the 29th of September.

*Rachel did get her new passport (which is actually much cooler than the old passports. Note the suave pic of Frank Moss in the link) in time for us to send off and get our tourist visas for Bangladesh, which arrived last week. Thanks for your prayers.
*All of you are very likely to know that our faith is intrinsically linked to all we do, including this trip. We're not sure what kind of linguistic precautions we may have to take in our outgoing emails, once on Bengali soil.
*Please do pray for us, particularly that we can be a help to the staff and nationals there, and that we would have some new insight into our future careers, through what is sure to be an informative experience.
*We don't think you'll be able to email us directly. There are no telephones or internet at the hospital, but there's apparently an ingenious system where we can type emails (+pictures?) and put them on a floppy disk, and they will be hand-carried to a nearby city and put online. Clayton has agreed to post them on the blog and then let you know about the updates. Pretty cool, huh?
*We are not in the area of Bangladesh affected much by the recent floodings. We won't really be in a town, per se, so the recent curfews imposed by the government in a few of the biggest cities won't affect us much at all. (This is just our guess, of course)
*We're staying in a guesthouse over a hill or two from the hospital in a little housing compound where some of the staff live.
*We are not immune to Japenese Encephalitis and Rabies, and boosted up on typhoiod and polio. We're planning on avoiding malaria through the magic of Malarone and DEET.
*Bangladesh (if you've been wondering this whole time) is a smallish country just east of India, next to Myanmar.
*If you take our the city-countries like Monaco and Singapore, it has the highest population density in the world.
*We're there in Monsoon season, so we're expecting rain and 100 degrees regularly.
*When the British colony of "India" became independent, the two Muslim flanks of the region became East and West Pakistan. In the early 1970's, East Pakistan broke off from West Pakistan and became Bangladesh. Roughly 85% is Muslim and 14% Hindu, with a smattering of other religions.
*Bengal tigers (like Shere Kahn from the Jungle Book, or even better, from Disney's Tale Spin, now available in Polish!) live in Bangladesh, but we're pretty sure not in our part of the country.


International Markets Galore

Over the past several months, Eric and I have realized that the first few years we spent in Ann Arbor were sadly wasted in a major way. We did all our shopping at Kroger. It wasn't until a few months ago that we began to tap into the glorious multi-ethnic/multicultural food aspects of Ypsilanti. It started a few months ago when we stopped by Hua Xing, the local Chinese food market, and picked up loads of frozen dumplings as well as our new secret ingredient in all stir-frys, sesame oil (so good!). We also took Eric's parents there and his mom bought stuff to make bubble tea. Our obsession with bubble tea will be saved for another blog.

Then last month Dos Hermanos, a Mexican grocery store, opened down the street from us and we walked down to purchase some handmade frozen tamales. And finally, we got an urge to start trying our hand at Indian cooking. So tasty, but there really aren't any cheap restaurants around here. We got a pretty straight forward recipe for chicken tikka masala from allrecipes.com (check it out, really great stuff there), but the "foreign food" aisle at Kroger had no garam masala. I mean, really. So we took a little trip down Packard Rd to Bombay Market, which had a mother load of Indian foods, including garam masala (w're not sure quite what it is yet, but we'll let you know)! And Bollywood movies, but that's another day. There's an entire strip of foreign food markets on Packard, including an Eastern European market and many Middle Eastern markets. We went back to one today, Aladdin's Market, to buy pine nuts for the fresh pesto we were making. And also picked up some yummy cheap Middle Eastern treats for lunch as well.

I guess we really like to eat. And we really like to travel, mostly because of the exotic foods we get to eat (OK, not mostly). So these new discoveries are a fun way to tide us over until we get to travel again. Stop by our house, any time, and we'll cook you up some yummy foreign foods. And I promise, I won't let Eric make them too spicy. :)



More quotes added to the running list...

Garden Bounty

It's not often that I would post such a ridiculously happy photo of myself, but sometimes that's just the honest way of it. Witness the bounty that is our aforementioned community garden produce. Daily do we take a short walk down the street to water the veg, and almost daily to we return with bounty. Rachel's been keeping a "bounty tab" on our fridge, and the peas have an easy lead, but as the picture demonstrates, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, cukes, zuchs, beans, and basil are also making a fine contribution to our dinner plates. The aphorism about people in Minnesota not leaving their cars unlocked in zucchini season (lest a passerby drop a zucchini in) is ringing true in a new way. Zucchini bread, zucchini pancakes (so good!), and a nice little Italian dish a friend recommended "zucchini oreganati" (say it with a Luigi-from-the-Simpsons accent and it sounds yummier). Good times. We'll try and give you the final tally when the summer is up.