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The Commute: "The Bachelor"Bangladesh-style


Fri, Apr 18th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

An old student came back to see me this week. He had some big news: he’s getting married this summer. He’ll return to his homeland, Bangladesh, for the wedding. The exact date is not certain, but he knows it will be in July. Here’s the interesting part: he doesn’t yet know the bride.

Not only does he not know her, but she hasn’t even been selected yet. In Amir’s culture and religion, marriages are arranged. He’s been in the U.S. about six years, getting a college degree and working hard so that he can send money home to his family in this third-world country. He likes the U.S., and plans to return after his wedding. For a time, he thought he might even marry an American girl. He says he tried dating, but the cultural differences were too great.

"We were like aliens to each other," he said of himself and the women he dated.

I’ve known Amir for about three years and admire him a lot. He’s quiet, thoughtful and humorous. I’ve watched him go through the agony of selecting a college major, balancing practicality against what he’d really like to study. I worried about him when he had trouble with his back and was obviously in a lot of pain. Mostly, I’ve worried that he seems lonely.

Ever the romantic idealist, I wanted to believe that his decision to marry was in response to his loneliness, but he insists it has more to do with his age. At twenty-nine, he can still hope to get a "young" girl, which he defines as no more than twenty-two. If he waits even a few more years, he’ll have to marry an older woman, closer to thirty. As an "older" woman myself, I tried to argue with him that women, like wine, simply get better with age. He seemed a bit confused, but even more embarrassed. After a few attempts, I realized that in his polite way, he was trying to convey the importance of brides being "pure" in his culture.

"She shouldn’t have ever been engaged, or had any boyfriends," he said at last. The older the woman, the more likely she’d spent time "out in the world." Hmmm. I decided to abandon this line of conversation. But I was really curious about how all this arranged marriage stuff works.

A year ago, when Amir visited his homeland, he announced that he was ready to marry. Immediately his family members, including extended family, along with all the village "matchmakers", went to work. His family members have already sent him five r .....
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Journal Writing Project: Jamie Howe

Fri, Apr 11th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

We are off to somewhere greener, somewhere warmer. We have waited four long years to get on that motorcoach in the spring. But it’s finally here. The Class of 2003 is bound for Washington D.C.!

Ever since our freshman year we h ..... 
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Of People, Places & Things: Hong Kong, a city under siege

Fri, Apr 11th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

I was driving home from work a few days ago when I heard a friend of mine being interviewed on the radio about the impact severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) was having on Hong Kong.  “There have been more than 22,000 ca ..... 
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Journal Writing Project: Kyle Anderson

Sat, Apr 5th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

March has always been an exciting time of the year. Old Man Winter seems to lose his touch. New breeds of athletics mark the calendars in high schools. Baseball, Track and Field, and Golf teams gear up for the months to come. People pack away their w ..... 
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Township Roads: Spring Fever

Sat, Apr 5th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

By Wayne Pike

Another beautiful day. It is just barely spring, but today’s weather was a complete relief from winter and an introduction to what we might hope is seven straight months of comfortable weather. Although we have had ..... 
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At Home in the Woods: Rueben's house

Fri, Mar 28th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

The iron gate wasn't there when we moved to the Big Woods in 1978. The present owners installed it years ago, although it seems like only yesterday that I walked up the gateless driveway past the metal mailbox stand (still standing, but in disrepair) ..... 
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