Much of what is written below is a compendium of notes, jottings and letters that I have compiled over the last four weeks. My apologies if some items are repeated from email communication. In summary we have been delighted with Bangladesh so far, although it has to be said that we have seen so little of our new country of residence, it would be better to say we have been delighted with what we have seen of a couple of suburbs of northern Dhaka. The welcome from the school has been first rate and the local people are cheerful, friendly and helpful.
I struggled for a while to come up with a suitable running title for these offerings from Dhaka; the previous series, Tanzania Tommy, The Thoughts of (from Suzhou), Letters from Guangdong, Suzhou’s Prodigal Son and Q & A in Qatar all had relatively well thought out titles, even though, thinking back, the Guangdong Diary should have had been called the Canton Crash. Bitten by Bangladesh was inspired by Andrea’s unfortunate episode with Dengue, but seems particularly apt, as we are, to date, bitten!
As we haven’t really done much here yet, I’ve divided my notes into simple sections that will enable those readers who are more in touch with what’s gone on in our first five weeks here to skip passages they’ve already digested. Having said that, there are a few surprises in each!
Arrival into our new home country was preceded by flights on United Airlines from Redding, California, to San Francisco, then Cathay Pacific, followed by a twelve hour stopover in Hong Kong and finally a Dragonair flight into Dhaka; everything went about as smoothly as was possible! However, it did mean that by the time we crossed Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar it was dark, as it was for the landing in Dhaka. On landing I had to wake a sleeping Andrea to get into the window seat but unfortunately there was little to see; Dhaka is not the most brightly lit of cities. Above is a photo of the Ganges/Brahmaputra delta from Google Earth.
There was a slight delay at the immigration desk but it was clear that the officer was welcoming, which also proved the case with customs and the officer at baggage reclaim. The four suitcases we had last seen in Redding reappeared almost intact; we had only one item damaged, bizarrely a head torch that had been well wrapped and padded.
Our journey to our apartment, on which we were escorted by the CEO and his wife, together with the new Head of Primary School and a driver, proved equally frustrating in terms of seeing anything, although it was clear from our immediate surroundings that we were no longer in a western city!
I guess the first real images to make an impact were the streets bustling with rickshaws, buses, taxis and tuk-tuks (although they have a different name here, CNGs, after the gas they use as fuel). In fact it was an extremely quiet night in Dhaka, especially as it was Eid; I guess everyone was at home. The celebration for the end of Ramadan was held on Friday 9th August here in Bangladesh; I believe it was earlier in many countries. We also had the opportunity to use a brand new flyover, which has apparently cut lots of time off the journey from school to the airport, a structure that is complete and ready to use, but has the misfortune not to have on and off ramps in the same condition!