Raising a child in a Western country has its challenges, none more so than passing on our rich Bengali heritage and Islamic traditions. In a land saturated by Christmas and Easter events, how do I make Eid relevant and fun for my pre-schooler? How do I instil in him the same joy and excitement I would feel upon spotting the crescent moon that signals the start of Ramadan or Eid? What can I do to create warm, fuzzy memories that he can fondly look back upon and associate with Eid, the same way I do? And more importantly, how do I weave in the moral lessons of kindness, generosity and gratitude that are the cornerstones upon which these festivals, and our culture, are based upon?
I write about Eid and Ramadan related activities I’ve introduced in our house over the past few years.
Writing his obituary reminded me of what a wholesome life he’d had. It also reminded me of the smaller, every day moments that make up life, the moments that define human relationships and provide a window into one’s personality. Moments that generally don’t get written about. Moments like our trips to Dhaka Club to pick out a video of my choice – a regular little indulgence that would often be prefaced by lunch or dinner at the club restaurant, where he’d always introduce me as his youngest daughter. Or the times when I’d barge into the air-conditioned confines of his office and unbeknownst to my khala, we’d indulge in a cheeky shingara, food that was generally forbidden given his cholesterol friendly diet.
Far from home, I find myself clinging dearly to traditions, especially on special occasions like Eid. Over the years, I’ve found myself in strange lands during Eid, from global cities to obscure towns, and in every instance I’ve tried to celebrate the occasion, in whatever small way I could.
Rio – the concrete jungle that sprung up amidst mountainous rainforests, is fondly referred to as Cidade Maravilhosa (Marvellous City). Standing atop one of the many mountains scattered around the city, it is apparent why. The views proffered were some of the most breathtaking. In my last article for the Rio series, I highlight some of the city’s most unique and unforgettable views.
Rio is a city of varying extremes, encapsulated in wild rainforests and beaches, a metropolis of skyscrapers and shantytowns; a cosmopolitan city, steeped in history – something I’d come to realise after a month in this beguiling city.
I explore its many aspects through a series of articles on the city. This is the second of three.
Rio is unlike any city I’d been in before: not just geographically, where the urban sprawl gives way to fine, sandy beaches and rainforest covered hills with sheer drops down to stunning lagoons, but also culturally as it exudes a vibrant yet laid-back vibe.
A nervous mum dispels the myths about travelling with a small child in the remote mountain kingdom of Bhutan.
Ciudad del Este, Paraguay’s second largest city, is famous. But perhaps not for the more conventional reasons. Set on the tri-border with Brazil’s Foz do Iguaçu and Argentina’s Puerto Iguazú, the city isn’t quite on the tourist trail like its neighbours. Instead, it seems to have gained notoriety as one of the region’s busiest hotbeds for counterfeit goods. With rumours that the city had harboured the likes of Osama bin Laden, it has long held the imagination of screenwriters, featuring on popular crime shows like NCIS and Miami Vice. For our family of three, however, the lure lay in the prospect of experiencing a new culture within close proximity to our base in Foz do Iguaçu—a 15-minute bus ride to the border.
The Urban Study Group in Dhaka are on
a crusade to save the beautiful heritage buildings of Puran Dhaka. I meet with the founder, Taimur Islam, to learn more about the cause.
I found myself, seemingly all alone, staring up at the ancient and mystical Moai. I had met an Englishwoman the day before, a sculptor, who insisted she could “feel the magic” when facing the Moai. As I stood in front of a 30 foot statue, I felt an inscrutable power. Perhaps it was incredulity I felt, stood where I was with the waves crashing in the distance, but it was mystical. The feeling was palpable.