100 Percent Linen

In a place as hot as Bangladesh, most expats want to wear natural fabric like linen (or silk, but silk easily disintegrates). Trying to find 100 percent linen in Bangladesh is much harder than one would imagine. If you ask for “linen” in Bangladesh, the cloth merchants will bring you a linen/polyester blend. What I eventually discovered was that I needed to ask for is “reh-mee-cotton” or possibly “nip-cotton” as that is what they call linen(the “remi-cotton” is “remixed cotton”). Working with my tailor, I finally managed to communicate that I wanted something cotton that felt a certain way (by giving him a sample of other linen pants I had). He successfully brought me a four samples of material and they were indeed 100 percent linen.

Samples of 100 percent linen on the table.
Samples of 100 percent linen on the table.

A friend had the men’s tailor shop, Ferdous, make linen pants for her. I was looking for lightweight linen and Tailor Johnny found it. Unfortunately, it was only in a few colors. In the photo, you can see that the four colors on the table: dark green (it looks blackish in the photo but is green), pink, orange, and gray. These are not the usual colors that I would wear. But, I was happy to know that it was possible to find 100 percent linen.

Diverse Food Cultures in DC – H Street

Three kinds of fancy ham and a stuffed artichoke.
Three kinds of fancy ham and a stuffed artichoke.

As I’ve mentioned before, Washington, DC, is filled with food adventures. Newly gentrified H Street in northeast DC is the newest “hot” area of international food eclecticism. It has quirky pubs, rice dives, and even the chain pizza restaurant has fancy pants “jamon iberico” on the menu. Plus, this being DC, you can even get pizza with sweet potato. And, of course, they bake the pizza in a wood burning oven.

The orange pieces are the sweet potato/yam.
The orange pieces are the sweet potato/yam.

At the Lebanese restaurant, they sell “ayran,” a salty yogurt drink, “mamoul,” a Fig Newton-like treat, plus the usual middle eastern treats like baklava. An extra experience we had was getting good¬† tips on Iraqi music from the guy behind the counter (there’s an app for that!).

Not as sweet as a Fig Newton.
Not as sweet as a Fig Newton.

Yearning for Bhutan

For the past six months, memories of a small kingdom, high on the roof of the world, keeps slipping into my mind. Oh, Bhutan, Land of the Thunder Dragon, how my imagination is painting you in colors of the sun! One of the wonders of a selective memory is the rose colored tint on everything. This is not completely the case with Bhutan. There were things I loved about Bhutan and things that I found less delightful (my apologies to my Bhutanese friends although they are too polite to object). I imagine that Bhutan is a bit like Tibet of yore (or Hollywood’s Tibet). Despite it being the land of Gross National Happiness (the king tells you that you are happy so you will be), it’s not all happiness and light (okay, there is is a lot of light).

Stones at the entrance to the museum.
Stones at the entrance to the museum.

With April just around the corner,¬† when I think back to the gho-clad men, strong women, crisp air, and quiet spiritualism, my thoughts turn to the spring festival, or “tsechu,” in Paro. The tsechu is a multi-day religious festival and a dream for a photographer (and for those of us who like to take photos). More about the tsechu in a later blog post.

My framed Bhutanese boy's gho.
My framed Bhutanese boy’s gho.

I had so many things from Bhutan framed that my framer asked me if I was Bhutanese. No, but thanks for the compliment.

Gift from the Heart – Painted Stairs

Wedding season has ended in Bangladesh and it will soon begin in the U.S. so I’ve been thinking about wedding gifts.

Decoration courtesy of wedding guest.
Decoration courtesy of wedding guest.

One day in Bangladesh, I was invited to a friend’s house and saw these painted stairs. They were painted as a wedding present. This colorful daily reminder reminds them of their friend, and their wedding, every day.

This would probably not work in the U.S., but one could offer some other gift from the heart.