Sunday, March 16, 2008
Catherine and I attend a birthday party (and prayer service)
Our nanny’s daughter recently turned “2” and we were invited to her birthday party. Dave was in the States so Catherine and I attended. The party was to be dinner and cake at their house. Although, Bangladeshis eat VERY late by American standards (9 or 10PM) we were asked to come at 7:30PM. We arrived at the appointed time, Catherine wearing her favorite party dress, purchased from our cook/bearer for her own birthday back in November. The party was to be at the apartment of our ayah which consisted of a sitting room with small attached kitchen (think one counter with two burner stove top and small college size fridge) and 2 bedrooms. She shares this apartment with her sister’s family and each family has their own bedroom.
When we arrived we were ushered into the bedroom where about 7-8 men were sitting on the bed (which took up 75% of the room) and there were only two chairs in the entire apartment and they were reserved for Catherine and I, inexplicably the honored guests. About 7:45PM, a prayer service began (our ayah is Christian, uncommon in Bangladesh but not unheard of). There was singing and a sermon (all in Bangla) that lasted about 45 minutes. During this time, Catherine and the party girl were chasing each other around and the adults were trying to keep them quiet. This was my bad mother moment…I found it SO difficult (i.e. preposterous!?) to even try to keep a hungry, tired 2 year old sitting still in her chair during a prayer service in another language that I found myself not even trying to keep her in her seat. When the minister was finished he asked ME to say a few words?! I just said how happy we both were to be there celebrating the birthday, etc. He translated into Bangla and then the ‘service’ was over.
The cake was cut and I thought, oh no, we’re not going to eat and I did NOT feed Catherine dinner before we came. They started passing around vanilla cake and chocolate cake (we brought) and I couldn’t eat it on my empty stomach and Catherine was so hungry she wanted to eat the whole thing! What to do?! We had a couple of bites and put it aside, THEN we were served our dinner! A special meal had been prepared for us with the best meat. Catherine loves the rice with pork and friend chicken. After we ate, we had some more cake. We gave our gifts, said our thank you and good-byes and I whisked Catherine home and to bed. Overall, we had an eventful night.