Sunday, August 4, 2013

Bangladesh, Last Time

Here I am, scheduled to go back to Bangladesh in less than a month and I haven't even posted the pics from my last trip.  Two trips in just over 2 months?  Guess I'm pretty much a regular there these days.

I was sort of dreading this trip, not for any particular reason.  As I've gotten older, I find myself worrying more about travel risks (mostly about plane crashes, I'll be straight) and this can kinda bum me out before I leave.  It's not as bad as packing for one's own funeral, but the thought of my own death always seems to cross my mind before I go on a long business trip.  And that sucks.  And with Bangla, there's always the worry about getting sick, too.  Or maybe it's just that I miss this kitty-girl when I'm gone.  Because I totally do.

Look at her guarding my luggage!

Well, no thanks to my crazy anxious pre-travel brain, the trip was SUPER-DUPER!  As in, I was even imagining myself living in Bangladesh--that's how great of a trip it was!  I know!  WHAT?!?  

Why was the trip so good?  For starters, I didn't get sick--not even a squirty tummy.  Nothing!  And this was true even with my sampling some of the local food prepared at a couple of suppliers.  So I got to enjoy delicious biryani and samosa without any "Bangla Belly!"  I felt like I was grateful for every moment I was feeling good, every moment I wasn't on a toilet (or worse, in a hospital).  I knew that at any time, something could be ill-digested or bacterial and there would go everything.  I wanted to sing, "I feel great! I love every moment of life!"  But I kept it pretty chill.  

I got to spend some quality time with my colleagues there, and that was great, too.  It's fascinating to see how they have transitioned their lives from Stockholm to Dhaka--and they all love it there now.  It's wonderful.  They are definitely the right people for the job(s). 

So I had great work meetings, ate well, relaxed, and had no travel snafus.  Do you hear that, BRAIN?  Can you keep it chill before the next trip then?

A plateful of wax apples offered by a supplier. 

I can't get enough of the beautifully adorned rickshaws.  Or the traffic.  

Oh, the TRAFFIC.

How can I explain it?  There is no order.  If someone could convince the drivers that if they took turns, things would indeed move more quickly.  But instead, it's like a stare-off wherein all of the cars inch-inch-inch at each other--no one willing to let another go--until one car makes his way out in front, at which point all of the cars behind him get to go until the other cars nip them off.  So it's basically something like sitting and waiting for at least 30 minutes... and then driving frantically for maybe 1 or 2 mintues.  Then sitting and waiting for another ridiculous amount of time.  Then driving for not enough time to really get anywhere.  

Meanwhile, you see the same cars/rickshaws/buses for hours on end, as you're basically stuck in the same pack.  The culture is set up around this traffic--people weave through the traffic on foot, selling beverages and snacks.  Gotta pee and you're a guy?  Just leave your car there and hit the side of the road.  Ain't no thing!  (Besides, they're all doing it in India!)  

It can take hours to go a few km.  The mind boggles.  I'm actually surprised there aren't bands of marauders, robbing those stuck in traffic and running off on foot.  But I'm glad there aren't.  My anxious brain did try to wedge some terrible "What If" thoughts into my tired traffic brain, but I shut it up by telling it that if my appendix DID burst while I was stuck in Dhaka traffic then that must be how I was meant to die.  Because die I surely would.  Ain't no airlift in Bangladesh and ain't nobody getting through that traffic--burst appendix or heart attack, neither.  No way, no how, nuh-ugh.


This is the Dhaka city view from my fancy hotel room in the Westin.  Note that if you're in need of a space, there's an office "TO-LET" in the back center-left.  

Also, every time I see a "TO-LET" sign around town, I see it as "TOILET."  Though there's probably no guarantee that something "to-let" would actually have a "toi-let."


Love the hand-painted 7-Up sign.

Which way to go?


I love both of these checkered buildings so much.

Traffic survivors.

I love the chickens in the net basket at left.  I mean, I guess I really DON'T, but that's why I took this shot anyway.

Nice ride, pal.

I picture the guy in the sunny G's in the poster as the Jay-Z of Bangla.  But he's probably just campaigning for office or something.  Also, note the umbrella covering the pile of jackfruit underneath!  Jackfruit gotta stay cool, yo!

Navigating it.

I actually spent my 38th birthday in Bangla (out at a fun party at a place called Bellagio).  When I got back to my hotel room, these "imported roses" from B had turned up.  Nice, huh?