Monday, September 3, 2012

And the #1 most unlivable city is....

DHAKA! Which is where I spent a couple of days this weekend. Let me tell you why it's unlivable.

#1, it's dirty. Really, disgusting. It's a good thing I'm washable (and have access to hot water, most of the time), because otherwise I'd be in big trouble. Sometimes I feel droplets of water near my feet (because I can't wear anything other than flip flops here, too hot right now) and I pray that it's just rain.

This picture doesn't even begin to capture the chaos of the traffic
#2, the traffic defies description. There is nothing like it in the world. When you want to turn right onto a street (which is like turning left for you right-side-of-the-road drivers) you just get out in front of people and hope they stop for you. Honking is a requirement, let people know you're coming (or passing), tell people to move (people walking in the road that is), and other assorted needs. Or just honking because it's almost like music to hear this chorus of honks. Also, street signs and stoplights are kind of a joke. I laugh because otherwise I'd go crazy.

#3, white people (women in particular) attract a crowd. I usually don't mind, most of the time it's just people who've never seen a white-skinned person (especially in the countryside). If it's lascivious in nature, I ignore it (and, not to be crude, but I was felt up enough in Russia to learn to ignore it). So, it's really hard to travel in a country where you can't just blend in, but it's also kind of fun because sometimes you can use it to your advantage to get something you want. For example, it costs 200 taka (about $2.50) to go into the airport arrival waiting area (or you can wait outside the gates for free), but because I'm a white woman who doesn't speak Bangla, I can usually play dumb blonde and get through for free. I only did it that once, and only because I'm not paying 200 taka to go to the lost luggage desk when they're the ones who lost my luggage.

Now, let me tell you why it's one of the most beautiful places in the world.

#1, the people. Sure, it's not everyone, but in general I've been greeted with such hospitality and kindness. Also, people call me ma'am or madame, which is more courtesy than I've every gotten anywhere else I've lived/traveled. Pretty much everyone I've come into contact with is just happy, a lot of them smiling all the time, it's infectious. They have so little, yet they're so humble and happy with what they have. It truly makes me re-evaluate what I need in my life.

View from the Rooftop Spa at the Nordic Club

Good-as-new feet!
#2, the oasis of greenery and the fact that I'm living in a tropical monsoon climate. People, I have palm trees in my backyard, if that's not beautiful, I don't know what is.

#2.5, the fact that I can sit in this oasis and get a manicure, pedicure, 1 hour massage and 30 minutes scalp massage for only 3,200 taka (about $40). Jealous much?
Tropical sunset at the school

#3, once you understand that everything is a little slower around here (and sometimes requires bribes), you'll get along great. Sure, it's not the most effective system, but everyone is doing the best they can with what they have. Again, it makes you evaluate what it is you really need in life.

#4, they have church! I was ecstatic to find a branch of about 5 locals. It was glorious to be able to feel the same spirit and participate in the same ordinances even though I'm on the other side of the world.
Did I mention that I'm on a billboard?
This mannequin is really excited!
#5, they have Diet Coke, which is typically part of my balanced breakfast or nightcap. Also, peanut butter and nutella sandwiches. Also, also, mango juice.

Later this week, unpacking the library! (After I figure out how to upload new patrons into Destiny. I followed the guide and it just didn't work)


  1. Replies
    1. I know! Even better (or worse, depending on how you see it), I'm on multiple billboards all over the city. It was the weirdest thing ever walking out of the Westin hotel and there I am, poorly photoshopped, on a billboard.


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