Though I have no concept of what time or day it is right now, I am certain of my location — I am finally in Bangladesh. Prior to my arrival, I had an overnight stay in Singapore that allowed me to see a bit of the city. Since western influences and conveniences abound there, it was not too much of a shock to my system. I’m sure the colorful chaos of Dhaka will promptly make up for that.
I shared with a friend that in my reading about Bangladesh, Henry Kissinger once described it as an “international basket case.” The irony that I’ve come here to find a measure of peace is not lost on me. All too often, though, I think people equate finding peace with being quiet and still. So easily we forget that whether it’s within ourselves or on a larger scale, peace is something that we make; it requires action. I’m looking forward to getting wrapped up in the whirlpool of activity that this city seems to offer and learning all that I can from its people.
I hope to be better about taking pictures than I usually am, but for now I only have a few to share from my day in Singapore. Aside from walking through China Town and Little India, my brother and I had the chance to visit the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple (Say that three times fast! Thankfully, I am able to pronounce the city I will be living in). The first picture is of Kali, the Hindu goddess of time and change. As I myself am experiencing a great time of transition, I found what I learned about her to be quite helpful to reflect on. In Bengali tradition, Kali is said to not give what is expected. Her refusal to do so enables those that follow her to “reflect on dimensions of themselves and of reality that go beyond the material world.” In other words, you can’t always get what you want. And in turn, it’s not always what you actually need.
For the next two months, I will be living in a place that Lonely Planet describes “shows the haves and the have-nots in crystal clarity.” As an American staying with a diplomat and volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, it would be easy to only assume that I have come to do good, pay it forward, share the wealth, etc. In reality, I know my exposure to the stories I am soon to hear will give me far more than I am able to return.