Yesterday, Chi Chi, Jonathon, and I visited the Panigram Resort site to take measurements for a pavilion. We plan to use this building to house an investor meeting at the end of the month. Chi Chi is responsible for the design the pavilion and needed to be on site to brainstorm how best to showcase Panigram’s core vales of ”Fresh, Sustainable, Inspirational” through the building. Chi Chi plans to utilize traditional building materials such as bamboo, jute, and mud into the pavilion. Chi Chi also intends to highlight the element of water into the design to reflect the element’s importance in Bangladeshi culture.
Speaking of water … while the three of us were measuring the site, we were caught in a heavy monsoon downpour. Taking shelter underneath a banana tree, we made friends with three local farm boys: Rippon, Shamin, and Jittu, who, only moments earlier, had been staring at us in that uniquely Bangladeshi manner. (All foreigners are treated like rock stars in Bangladesh.)
After the rain subsided, I asked our three new friends to show me around, hoping to give Chi Chi a respite from the famous Bengali curiosity. Following the three boys, Jon (another intern) and I embarked on a journey through dense bamboo forest.
Our first stop was a koecha plant. Rippon, Jittu, and Chamin showed Jon and I how to make bubbles using the plant’s soap-like sap. Amazed by this simple trick, Jon and I tried to copy the boys. We failed, however, much to the amusement of our three young friends. After a few more failed attempts and even more giggles at our expense, the boys urged us to trek onward.
As we continued to follow our hosts through rice paddies, bamboo forest, and fruit trees , I noticed that the boys held immense pride in their homeland. It was obvious to me that these boys toil long hours in the field and they were eager to show us the results of their efforts. Leading us deeper through bamboo forest, the trio proudly displayed the bounty of their land: coconuts, rice, egg plant, mangoes, bananas, chilies, and katal (jackfruit) – the national fruit of Bangladesh. Later in the evening I had the opportunity to taste jackfruit for the first time. It has a pungent sweet aroma, its flesh is pastel yellow with a sweet, banana-like flavor and slippery texture.
The tour was cut short when Chi Chi called to say she was finished and ready to head home. Disappointed that our boyish adventure was cut short, I had to tell our young friends that is was time to go home. Sadly, the three boys mirrored our disappointment as they led us back to the Panigram site. On the walk back, Jon and I were again caught in a torrential downpour. In order to prevent us, their guests, from leaving completely soaked, the young boys demonstrated how to make an umbrella on the fly. Grasping the stems of the kola pata (banana leaf) with a deft twist, the young boys offered Jon and I natural on-the-go rain gear.