February 8 -- Dhaka, Bangladesh

We arrived back to Dhaka by plane since it took us 12 hours driving to get there. In country plane trips are subsidized by the government...it only cost $36 each. Today is Friday, but many places are closed because Friday is the Muslim holy day, luckily, the family we visited today is Hindu. This was one of the shortest visits. Mrinmoy pottery is a cooperative which was organized by Suriaya Chowdhury (designer for MCC) to help them sell ceramic pots. These pots are traditionally used for food and water storage. The clay is dug up from the river banks in the dry season and stored for future use throughout the year. The clay is chopped up finely to locate all the little stones, then is thrown on a foot pedal opperated wheel. The pots are then fired in a primitive wood burning stove. The pots are stacked on top and covered with straw then coated with mud. Making the kiln more airtight keeps the smoke in if a darker finish is desired. Firing generally takes two days and the kiln has to be rebuilt each time.
After this visit we got our first real taste of shopping. Aarong is a project of BRAC (Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee) and was initially a joint effort along with MCC. Now independent, Aarong supports fair trade in country. Enormously successful, it is four stories of clothing and gifts from all over Bangladesh. There's also a cafe with a great view of the parliament building and the street below.


February 3

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