Monthly Archives: December 2010

…FS Swap

I’m going to be participating in this incarnation of the FS Swap, and you should too! You don’t have to be a blogger, but that is how many of us are finding each other. It should be a good chance to meet someone new, support others who are living this peripatetic lifestyle, and get actual mail! You have until January 15th to sign up.

Here’s the real info on the Swap, hosted by the clever lady over at Crafty Foreign Service:

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…Frittata

We had a Boxing Day brunch for a big crowd a couple of days ago, and there were many requests for my frittata recipe. I am a little embarrassed to post it, considering both how easy it is, and how fattening it will appear, but here’s the way I make it:

12 eggs, scrambled in a bowl
1 pound cheddar cheese (this time I used the “Vintage White” aged Tillamook cheddar, divine!)
Vegetables in tiny pieces (on Sunday, it was chunks of broccoli and green peppers)
a tiny bit of olive oil (or melted butter, your pick. About 1 tbsp to 1/8 cup?)
Bacon in tiny pieces (but, it’s also good without bacon, and this was my first time with bacon.)

Stir it all together, pour into a rectangular baking dish, and bake for 30-60 minutes at 350…. Why the ambiguous timing? It should be about 30 minutes to bake it until the top it just brown, but the ovens that the government bought here in Dhaka are notoriously fickle. Things can burn in seconds, or never cook in the middle. Totally random. SO… bake it until it’s just getting golden brown on the top and you can see the sides pulling away from the dish.

YUM.

Even Mr. Adventure liked it, and he hates baked egg dishes.

We also had a truck-load of homefries, cooked in our lovely, giant, flat bottom wok (thanks to everyone who bought us the pots and pans on our wedding registry, they’re AWESOME), cherry cobbler, sliced deviled eggs on crackers (what else do you do when the egg shells refuse to peel and the eggs look mutilated?), a spiral ham, and Pillsbury crescent rolls. So, all in all a pretty easy feast, except for the annoying deviled egg fiasco. Most of our guests brought desserts, which we weren’t really expecting, but the bounty encouraged everyone to go back to the table after the gift exchange and have seconds on dessert.

We also had the bestest (!) bad santa/white elephant/yankee swap gift exchange I’ve had in a long time. It started off slow, with people hesitant to trade, but a few strange things, and a little bit of encouragement livened it up. In the end, however, I ended up as the ‘owner’ of the item I had persuaded my husband to give away…. erm. Thank goodness our lovely neighbors were generous enough to do a secret pity trade with me as they left.

Among the cherished gifts were:
1 . a shrink-wrapped copy of Apples to Apples
2. A handy kit for dealing with “the Dhakas” (aka tourista, delhi-belly, etc.)
3. several tasty food combos, which featured american treats (including blueberry muffins, which I wanted!)
4. some pretty local handicrafts
5. objects of “unknown” use
6. Smelly treats (both good smells and bad smells)…..

But, the best part is how upbeat everyone was, and really got into the festive feeling. I guess since we were making our own holiday joy, we were all “bringing it” rather than being too cool or too bored with it. I was really happy with our party, and I hope if we do it again it will be just as fun.

…Calling in Gmail

Google just made this Santa’s “Nice” list with its announcement on Monday that they’d be keeping Google Voice and “Calling in Gmail” free through the end of 2011. Until today, I thought my fun times on the phone would be over at the end of this month, as Google had planned to begin charging for phone calls to the US in January.

However, not so!

If you don’t use Gmail Calling now, and are a FS with decent internet access, you should set up your google account and give it a try. I Love It. I can call the US for free any time, just like Skype, but I don’t just have to call a computer, I can call cell phones and land lines too. It’s not all that different from a VOIP, but we don’t have a VOIP device.

If you’re in the US, it’s free to other US numbers, but not to call me out here in Dhaka. For that, you should use Skype, since we’ve always got it on when we’re in the house. (One of our friends even has their Skype calls forwarded to their Dhaka phone, so perhaps we’ll try to get that going too.)

Yeah! *happy dance for free phone calls*

…Christmas Blues

I have been reading the Foreign Service blogs this morning, and there seems to be a bit of a theme going on in the last few days… at least among those who are having their first Christmas at post: They’ve all got a little bit of the Christmas blues.

I can share some of their pains. After all, we’ve gotten exactly one Christmas card, and one gift box. Even Mr. A is starting to sweat that the hoped for mail won’t arrive in time for Saturday, after all it only comes twice a week here. Things we ordered back in November still haven’t arrived.

It’s also hard to for some people to feel the “holiday spirit” when it’s hot out and there’s nary a noel in town. That’s true in Dhaka, but I’m a California girl, and this is actually Christmas weather for me. Snow is what you see on vacations and ski trips, not on Christmas.

Christmas last year, all of these are the presents I gave away. Cute paper, no?

I am not sure if we have the Christmas blues or not. It’s not my first Xmas away from ‘home,’ and I spent much of those Xmas’s alternating with different families, not in the same house or with the same people every year. It’s Mr. A’s first Xmas away from ‘home’ though, like many of the other FS bloggers, but I guess that’s one of the lessons of the Foreign Service. From now on, your home is where you are.

Thanks to the magic of the internets, we hope we’ll get a chance to catch up and wish everyone Merry Christmas this weekend. And, don’t worry, we’ve got plenty of parties and festivities to attend, including one of our own…

…HHE and a Xmas Tree!

It’s a quiet Saturday morning her in the Adventure house. Perhaps we have so much paper and cardboard lying around it’s like another layer of insulation has been added to our flat. And what does having a metric ton of cardboard and paper mean? It means our boat shipment (HHE) finally arrived, and along with it, everything we’ve been missing for the last three months is finally ours once again. Surprisingly, there was much less damage in the HHE than we expected, but I am missing somethings still. Hopefully they’ll turn up, there are some boxes that have yet to be opened.

Last week we went to a big dinner and party at the Ambassador’s house, which was topped off by a singalong around his giant Christmas tree. It was a week of embassy festivities. There was also a concert in the embassy itself, many of the performers were staffers, it was classic Christmas music, and accompanied by the occasional jig or two from an excited child. I also attended Mr. A’s section’s “Open House” in which staffers in other sections (or spouses) got a chance to tour his office area, and see what they do in there. There were some fun interactive activities, some presentations and a bunch of cookie displays to keep us well fed as we followed the tour.

I also picked up my first paycheck from subbing at the American School. It’s in the local currency, so I’ll have to take it to a local bank to cash it. However, it’s recommended that all bank visits take place via a car, rather than walking, so I’ll have to wait until next week. Why? Because our payment finally cleared on the car we bought (third time’s the charm), and we can pick it up early next week.

However, all of these events were overshadowed by the knowledge that our possessions were in the city and had cleared customs. For various reasons, they couldn’t be delivered until the end of the week, but what a day of fun that was!

The truck arrives

We had 4 crates of stuff. That wouldn’t be much if we’d shipped furniture, but that’s mostly “boxes.” A whole lotta boxes. The pile below is most of the kitchen stuff, but we found random kitchen things in lots of other boxes. For example, the box of utensils also had the Bocce set, but nothing else, and was labeled “Small boxes with photos.” Uh? What?

Just after the movers left, our smallest pile of boxes. There are about 3 times as many boxes in 2 other rooms, and a big pile mysteriously labeled "books" in the office.

That was true of many of our boxes. There were about 10 boxes labeled “books” which contained at most one book, and usually none. The books were labeled clothes, or games…. Shoes were labeled clothes, etc. However, it’s understandable, given that almost all of our stuff was holed up in a single little room in a giant pile of doom when the packers arrived.

Got Milk? Need glasses?

However, the priority for me was the Christmas tree. So, even though we hadn’t found the silverware, or even cleared a path to the door, we cleared a space in the perfect corner and set up our tree. It was harder to arrange than we thought a fake tree would be. It’s our first fake tree, though I’ve had some mini trees and decorated a few fake trees for work and such. However, we think the results are worth the effort, and thank our upstairs neighbors for coming down to help us put all the hundred or so ornaments on.

Your classic reflecting tree shot

So, in sum, we’ve had a week of festivities, opening boxes and big happiness, and it isn’t even Christmas yet. I hear that a lot of the folks back home are knee deep in snow, but we’re still enjoying the “chilly” high 70 and low 80 degree days. Brr, where’s my jacket?

…Round-Up: What (Not) to Wear

Well, folks, the round-up is a little sparse this week, at least as far as audience/blogger-contributed submissions go, but there are some good ones, including a few classics. Thanks to the magic of the internet, I’ve also brought in a few notes on clothing that popped up this week on their own…

The Classics:

From the archives at Four Globetrotters comes the heartwarming blushingly embarrassing story of the Skirt Suit and the SUV. Four Globetrotters has only been contributing to the blog-world since October, but her hilarious stories (and brutally sad ones) have earned her a loyal following and many reposts. If you haven’t read all her archives, you totally need to. Now.

Alex, at Travel Orders, is also all about the Pant Suit, and her post is a helpful guide for soon-to-be A-100’ers who just spent 4 years of their lives living in pajama pants, or anyone in need of a little guidance in the “what to wear” department. (There’s also some funny gender confusion in the comments, but suffice it to say that Pant Suits are appropriate for both men and women, dresses might not be.)

New Insights:

Lauren (what a lovely name that is… gee, I’ve got to get me a name like that.) at Global Geraghtys has learned a lesson that I often forget, visitors seem to arrive at the door much more often when you’re wearing PJ’s at noon, or, in my case, when you’ve just spilled spaghetti sauce all over yourself. Check out her post for a collection of stories on how what she wore “under” didn’t stay that way.

Becky, at Small Bits, brings us back to the little things… Little things that get eaten by the dryer. Yes, those pesky socks! One of the good things about her upcoming post? It’s a sockless wonderland! No more matching! No more piles of loners! (Did you know that “Lost Sock Memorial Day” is May 9?)

The Rest:

Perhaps we’re all too busy dealing with the month of holiday madness and end-of-the year duties that is December, but there were a few posts out there on the subject of clothes that didn’t get submitted. However, I am a loyal user of Google Reader, which is even searchable for specific terms like “wear,” “clothes,” or “shoes.” And here’s some results:

From “my last name is not cordaro,” a lament that knowing your next post is tropical means not buying cute winter sweaters this year, and the terrors of stock-piling a Consumables shipment.

Jen, who definitely has other things on her mind, tells us about what it’s like at WolfTrap in the winter. Let’s just say, it’s not balmy. Hats and gloves don’t even cut it.

Masha at Where to Next also had a wardrobe malfunction related to the weather this week, check out her solution!

And, last, if you didn’t put out your shoes on December 6th this year, don’t forget next year! Why? Candy! (Thanks Terry!)

Next week’s theme is “Joyous Celebrations” and hosted by Nomads by Nature, get on over there!

…Tropical Disease

Quick! What’s the one aspect of foreign service life so glamorous and exciting that we never mention it, lest you succumb to a mad fit of jealousy?

Yes, that’s right. Tropical Diseases. And, the not so tropical ones too. I’m talking parasites, microorganisms, fungi, cysts, burrowing insects, worms…. so many things that make you glitter and shine.

Here in Dhaka, we’ve got your pretty typical Typhoid problem, but that’s preventable with a round of inoculations. What else do we have for the unwary FS-person?

Dengue: A popular disease among the teaching staff at the American school this year, and several Embassy folks as well have opted for “the Dengue.” Like malaria, it’s a mosquito borne disease, but, not curable, so you have to run the whole sickness through. And, its mosquito prefers the city life, and cooler times of day, so they hit you while you’re sleeping. Then, you get a fever, headaches, pain, rash, and possibly some hemorrhaging. Fun times!

Flesh-eating snails: aka schistosomiasis. These microscopic snails live in bodies of water, waiting for an unsuspecting hand or foot to touch it. Then, they start to eat you, inside and out. Yummers.

Garden-variety Rabies

Amoebas: aka dysentery, famed for its history on the Oregon Trail (game). Found in the public water supply.

Cysts: Again, microscopic things that eat you, and everything you dined on. Transmitted by fecal contamination. EEW.

Worms: Primarily a problem from undercooked meats

And: Salmonella, Hepatitis, AIDS, Tickbite Fever, Malaria, Pink Eye….

Don’t you wish you had one? I did. Not anymore.

…December

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas….” well, except for the lack of snow and Christmas decor while we await our big shipment (should be here next week!)

But, in good news:

1. We think we’ve bought a car. Of course, the last 2 cars completely fell through, but at this point we’ve had an inspection and handed over a check-to-be-cashed, so we’re pretty confident this one will work out. It’s a bit bigger than the MINI, but still no road monster. It’s called a Mazda Demio and looks a bit like this, but I really just borrowed this pic from an old used-car ad. Supposedly it’s got more room in the trunk than the MINI, and that second set of doors will come in handy when we’re trying to ride behind our future “driver.” So, I guess we’ll be adding to our household staff soon.

2. We received a present! It’s sitting under the 1.5′ tree we have until our stuff comes, next to a pinecone and a snowman, each about 2-3″ tall. It’s a tiny Christmas.

3. The weather is AWESOME. Generally clear, but not hot. The locals are bundled up in scarves and gloves, but I think it’s about 75 out?

4. I sent in my dissertation draft last week, the one which is supposed to be the last one. But, haven’t heard whether it is yet.

5. We’ve already been to two Xmas parties, and since we couldn’t get enough pie, I made a cherry one yesterday. YUM.

6. I’m applying for a job here at the embassy, so keep your hopes up for me. It seems right up my alley, and in line with my training and career experience. Someone else wondered to me whether there was any one here who could even fulfill the specified requirements and limitations, but I think I do… so here’s hoping! It would be my highest paid gig yet, if you don’t count the various perks of working as the faculty-in-residence including free housing.

So, once again, not a particularly substantive post, but a busy week of emailing, hoping, and applying, in relation to #4 and #6.

 

…What (Not) to Wear

Most of my friends and family are curious about what I wear every day here in Dhaka. Sadly, I am not very a very interesting fashion model here, as I spend most of my days in the house polishing my dissertation. On those occasions when I venture out, I am wearing my American clothes, and being fiercely stared at for the oddity. However, I do _know_ the dress code, I just haven’t found anything built for the giant (average-sized American) that I am, and haven’t taken the plunge for custom clothes as everyone else seems to do. Since I’m trying to start working full time soon, I’ll have to jump in that pool, though. Jeans and t-shirts just won’t cut it.

So, for the round-up which I am hosting this week, I’ve chosen a theme of “What (Not) to Wear.” Tell us your stories of fashion faux-pas, or take pics of the locally acceptable ensembles. Is your post a culture of little black dresses? Blazers that throw-back to the 1980s? Abayas? Fur-lined hoods? Space-suits? Are there things you wear inside, but not out, as we do here in Dhaka? Is your wardrobe full of exotic things from previous posts that you don’t want to throw away?

I’m excited to hear about the clothing cultures we all experience, so bring on the posts!