a few hairs by d. marvi
my relationship with my unibrow is tempestuous. some days i hide it away, plucking out each hair with hatred. others, i smooth it down lovingly with rosewater and feed it coconut oil at night to hasten it’s growth. these hairs are one of the many ways i’m navigating my own body while i navigate the liminal space of diaspora. my unibrow evokes both the racial privileged of the homeland and and the racial alienation of the hostland. painting my unibrow gold can be seen as an act of beautification and self-acceptance. conversely, it can be seen as self-orientalization, or, making a prominent physical sign of my racial “otherness” even more so. or, simply, it could be an innocent whimsy. i choose to keep the meaning of this as ambiguous as possible, to mimic my own fluid, love-hate relationship with my unibrow.
Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou. Untitled (Vodou Series), 2011.
Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou’s photographs of the people of Porto-Novo, Benin (formerly Republic of Dahomey) are drawn from street life, his friends, family and studio customers. Benin is all about colour – Porto Novo is like a visual assault.In Leonce’s impressive portraits, wild combinations of locally designed Dutch imported textiles create extreme gradations between background, foreground, person and clothing. Leonce is part of a generation experiencing rapid change and his photographs capture the energy and unfettered zest for life of a people caught between tradition and progress.
"I live in a shared apartment with 15 other girls near my college. There’s 3 of us per room. We each pay 450 taka ($6) a month for food. For breakfast, we have potato mash, lentils and rice. For lunch, we eat fish, vegetables and rice and then for dinner, we fry some vegetables. Fish for only one meal a day."
"What about meat?"
"Meat is expensive so we only buy it for 5 days in the month for lunch. Our menu isn’t bad, I guess the more you can afford, the better you can eat."
Yeah, this was my mother’s diet for meals when she went to college in Bangladesh back in the late 80s and lived in a dorm hostel.
aloo borta, rice, dhal, vegetables, fish, other meat once in awhile.
I can relate to taking bucket baths during visits to Bangladesh in summer. In the village area, we pumped the water into the bucket. I think a lot more water is saved and conserved as opposed to American showers.
Two items that are essential to most Indian households are a bucket and a pitcher. They are to Indians what showers are to Americans, an integral part of the daily ritual of bathing. In a country where you can’t count on running water, the vast majority of people bathe using a bucket of water, and a plastic pitcher to pour the water over your head and body.
Like every other Indian I know, I grew up with bucket bathing. But by the time I was 10, indoor showers had started to become more common in bathrooms as did a regular water supply, at least in urban India.
For my younger brother and me, showers were the cool, new way to bathe. It made time in the bathroom much more fun than the bucket bathing ways of the old India. Much to my mother’s annoyance, we stayed in the bathroom longer, wasting time and water, as she would put it. As a result, she spent her time yelling at whoever was in the bathroom to hurry up and get out.
When I moved to the United States in my twenties, I was glad to bid goodbye to bucket bathing. I was thrilled to have a hot and cold water supply any time of the day, any time of the year, with no fear of the water running out.
Long hot showers early in the morning quickly became a necessary ritual. Over the 11 years that I spent in the U.S., I conveniently forgot what bucket bathing was like. That is, until this summer, when I was forced to return to that old practice in order to survive the scorching heat of New Delhi.
You see, houses in New Delhi still don’t have a 24-hour water supply. The city supplies water once or twice a day, and homeowners store that water in an overhead tank.
Photo: An Indian youth rinses off soap suds during his bucket bath near the waters edge with background buildings of Mumbai. (Rob Elliott/AFP/Getty Images)