I am a firm believer in the daily routine, especially as a means to quell culture shock. I have a good amount of free time in this month before school and I am using that time to form habits and create the lifestyle that I want. That lifestyle consists of the following:
Waking up early. I have always been a morning person, but I am taking it a step further. I have been waking up at 5:45 am and I really enjoy having that personal time each morning. There is a lot going on in the morning here, everyone seems to wake up very early. There is a sense of calm in the air before 8am but, there are still many sounds to be heard. I hear everything from pigeons and crows flapping their wings, to maids and paperboys riding the elevators, to babies crying, and even men and women hacking out out all the morning fuzz on their tongues from a night’s rest. I can hear it all and I don’t mind it. I’m actually quite fond of the sounds of the morning.
Reading the news. I got in the habit of reading the newspaper daily while in school. I figured it was worth it to take advantage of the free issues of The New York Times that were delivered to campus every morning. One of the speakers at our orientation told us to be ‘cultural detectives’ and find out everything about the social, political and economic identity of our new country. I was definitely nodding my head in agreement when he said that. We get the paper delivered every morning. There is also a newsstand where I can buy magazines very close by.
Going to the market. When I lived in Paris, going to the Maubert Mutualité market was one of my favorite weekly errands. I had my favorite vegetable stands where I would measure my improvement in French by my conversations with the vegetable sellers. I’m still on the lookout for for my go to fruit and vegetable wallas, I think it might take some time. The ideal vegetable walla enjoys the sport of bargaining yet is patient when I confuse my bangla numbers. He or she would let me haggle a bit so that I could feel like I am cutting a deal, even if it is not a deal by Bengali standards. The other day I tried to bargain for okra and eggplants and it didn’t go so well. The whole interaction was very awkward. I got 50 and 500 mixed up and at the end, I tried to knock 5 rupees off the price. The man wouldn’t budge so I walked away for dramatic effect thinking he would call me back and knock down the price. Unfortunately, he did not and the eggplants at the next stand looked sad and significantly less nutritious. We needed the eggplants that night for dinner and I had no choice but to return back to the stern walla for our okra and eggplants.
Bangla class. We go to Bangla five days a week. The classes have definitely helped me develop an ear for the language. I can now understand words but I am still having a difficult time picking up conversations and dialogue.