Archive for the ‘culture’ Category

so i have been moved from my quarters within this guest house 3 times now…there was some painting going on and somehow i kept getting caught in the room that needed to be painted next.  there were also about 6 false alarms when i was told i needed to pack up all my belongings and move the next day, which turned out to just be fire drills, so i’ve become very adept at packing my life up into suitcases in a matter of minutes.

so the latest move happened the morning of my birthday.  of course just minutes before my ride to work arrived, i was informed by a stout man that i needed to vacate, and it had to be now.  i had gotten fairly used to this latest room, tucked towards the back of the guest house, even though it was considerably crappier than the previous one (no hot water, lots of rickety broken things, hole-y mosquito net).  so i huffed and hawed about having to pack up again and moved quickly before heading to work.  the new room looked fine, the floor was a bit uglier than the last, but the balcony has a bit nicer view. whateva, i thought.  then i came home that evening, and entered the bathroom for the first time.  my eyes were confronted by this:

where is the red bow?

i stopped in my tracks as i thought there were zero western toilets in this whole building.  now after 2 months you would think that i had grown accustomed to the squatter toilets and would have some annoying expat indignation towards “ppl who need a seat” or some other phrase that deserves italics.   wrong.  i will never, ever believe that.  walking in and seeing this sight was the hand (or many hands) of some divine birthday bathroom goddess.  if they try and move me again, they’re gonna have to pry me from this room toilet.  i’ll even paint the room myself if i need to.  i will probably paint it with repeating patterns of western toilets.

anyway, that was the odd little its-the-small-things joy-of-today, which happened to fall on my birthday.


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Everywhere I go there are snacks.  which is a wonderful motif that I highly appreciate.  I’ve been traipsing around villages and the city of Patna, getting to meet all kinds of people, sitting in lots of meetings, been to a couple workshops and info sessions, etc. etc. and everywhere i go there are copius snacking options.  little crackers, biscuits, samosas, these dry cakey tasty things (see below), this little mix that sorta tastes like rice krispies….always brought with tea.  or rather milk and sugar with a teabag added so we can call it ‘tea.’

we definitely need to bring this back to america, because the availability of little treats back home during meetings and such is definitely snlacking (yep, just did that).

this is most likely because i’m a visitor and clearly from very far away lands, so people are trying to be as hospitable as possible.  but the point is, they are already extremely hospitable and this is just habit for any sort of meeting/gathering.  and i dig it.  call me count snackula but this should be a requirement world wide in my humble and correct opinion.

Here are a few snacks i’ve encountered…

the aforementioned cakey thing, with some flat rice (i think?) below

A piece of foreign fruit, but still a snack

The aforementioned sugarmilk tea

a fun new sugary snack from just today

Ok not a snack i've found in india, but this looks really really good right now and would be an acceptable snack to receive at meetings back home

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today at lunch i reached perfect culinary equilibrium.  i think i found the supreme balance between sauce and rice.  dont be fooled, this is no easy task.  Everyday for lunch, we eat rice and dahl with some other assorted vegetables in the office.  Its served family style, so you serve your own portions.  This means its all on you to get the ratios right, which comes with a bit of a learning curve.  Eating is done also solely with the hands, so you can go with the pre-mix option, or mix each bite of rice with a small sampling of dahl.  I personally go with the pre-mix, so I have a whole plate of rice-dahl all mixed and ready to be eaten.

this is dahl and string hoppers, or breakfast noodles, not rice. but i'm a firm believer of including photos whenever possible. see below for irellevant photos


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and the puns continue.  i promise you, faithful reader, that any chance i get to remotely incorporate a “sri lanka” pun into a blog title, colloquialism, facebook update, or any spoken sentence, I will try my hardest to make sure I’ve come up with the worst pun possible. this is my promise to you and i intend to keep it.

so my 3 and a half readers seem to enjoy anytime i write about the food that i’ve been eating during the kiva fellowships.  armenia was a bit limited in the types of food, especially when it came to lunching options, but my 3 or 4 months there were happily dominated by lahmujen and schwarma.  so i’ve had some people ask me “what is the lahmujen of sri lanka?” (more…)

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As much as I didn’t want to, I knew I had to give it a shot before I left Armenia.  I’ve been told its as Armenian as you can get, and the ultimate Sunday morning meal to battle a hangover.  Its name is Khash, it lives in a bowl, and I tried it last Sunday [this is proof how behind I am; in reality this was about a month ago]. (more…)

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map of the SRI

I apologize for the awfully-punned title but I really couldn’t resist.  Coming down from a humidity-induced fog, I can’t be expected to think clearly or use proper blog-titling judgment at this point.  I’m writing this post from beautiful Colombo, Sri Lanka, as I look out the door to a coconut tree from the head offices of brand new Kiva partner, BRAC Sri Lanka.  Not only is BRAC Sri Lanka a brand new Kiva partner, but so is this teardrop-shaped island nation of Sri Lanka.  I have the privilege of serving as a Kiva Fellow in the class of KF10 to help bring this partnership online and posting loans from across the country so lenders can learn a bit more about this fascinating South Asian nation while funding local businesses.

Sri Lanka is an interesting country for Kiva.  Like several other countries across the world, the central bank imposes certain requirements about funds entering and exiting the country.  So the Central Bank of Sri Lanka is taking a chance on Kiva by granting the ability to work in the country under the conditions that BRAC Sri Lanka borrowers on Kiva are: below the Sri Lankan poverty line, receiving a reduced interest rate from BRAC, and that funds wired from Kiva must stay in the country for at least 12 months.  So this can complicate things a bit.  However, due to Kiva’s net billing model, lenders can receive their repayments as BRAC Sri Lanka continues to fund loans in excess of their repayments due.

The BRAC SL office with aforementioned coconut tree

Basically (more…)

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OK, so this blog is going to have  a heavy time delay from the postings and the actual events transpiring in my life.  Unfortunately I’m on the move and way behind, but definitely want to chronicle everything I’ve seen and done, as well as wrap up the packaging on the Armenia experiment, so bear with my delays.

I am going to pretend it’s the 1820s and that these blog posts have to travel across oceans in wooden ships to be delivered to the internet, and then my tardiness starts to sound a lot more reasonable, and intriguingly exotic.  So, posts to come…..

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