Most of this piece was written a couple of weeks ago and I’d been toying around with the idea of sending it as a letter to friends. After a bit of procrastination and constipation it finally arrived as a blog and I’ve just found time to select, or take, some photos to go with it. Andrea remained unconvinced, but I think it works, and that’s what matters!
In the intervening weeks I’ve also sorted out to visit the UK at Easter, for my Dad’s 90th birthday party, and we’ve made our first foray out of Dhaka, to Sylhet. The latter will be covered in a forthcoming blog.
It’s another beautiful day here in Dhaka, a bit warmer than the last few, but still very pleasant. A breeze would be welcome, although it might raise the dust, so a short rainstorm first would be ideal. Although the temperatures have started to rise, it is still pleasantly cool at night and there is no need for the air conditioning yet.
Mosquitoes had been a major issue throughout January and, whilst there are still plenty of them around, it seems they are on a work to rule as they are only prevalent for a short period in the morning, which coincides with our early coffee on the balcony and for about an hour either side of nightfall. In the evening there are an astonishing number; we bought an electric tennis racquet and I killed around 135 in a ten minute spell on a balcony that is only a few square metres. Fortunately we get very few in the house but those that do enter are persistent and have plenty of places to hide.
Our protection from the six legged killer is multi-layered. Odomos is a cream that is applied to the skin and is very, very effective; however, if you miss a patch the buggers will find it. Clothing actually works better and it is cool enough at the moment to cover up. Then there is the mosquito coil; we use this on the balcony but apart from making me slightly lightheaded I’m not sure if it actually works! The racquet does kill mosquitoes in quantities but I’m not convinced that the smell and heat of sizzling insect doesn’t attract more of them. Then there are the screens and our apartment is very, very well protected; if we lived indoors all the time, and never opened the doors, I guess we would never have them inside. It is possible to have nearly all the windows open as they all have good nets. Once inside there are the insecticide plug ins, which operate in the main central room; again I’m not sure how effective these are and, like the coils, they emit strange odours which may, or may not, be doing something to our brains. We don’t use these in the bedroom. Finally there is the net over the bed and, as this is a basic four poster, the nets are well away from you whilst sleeping. We’ve only had two mossies penetrate this inner sanctum and it was clear they must have been carried in by ourselves. The most effective prevention is the air conditioning but as I doubt this will be necessary for a month or more it doesn’t count at the moment. All this and yet the mosquitoes in winter and spring are harmless; we await the summer with interest.
There’s a party going on downstairs today, about 60-70 people probably. We’re keeping out of the way but we think they’re holding it in the parking area on the ground floor. The first arrival was a security guard who has been managing the parking and directing people rather than providing security. Then a van with maybe a 100 individually wrapped packages, so there may be more guests on their way. Andrea tells me that loads of chairs also arrived this morning. What they got a bit wrong, and here’s the connection, was the arrival of the guy to spray the bushes for mosquitoes. He arrived shortly after the guests and I suspect they all got a lung full of whatever poison they use.
The party appeared to end abruptly at the afternoon call to prayer; they even had their own muezzin singing downstairs. What a great way to ensure a party ends on time; we must get one sometime!
Our air conditioning is almost up to the required complement. Technically the school only provides two units but this was laughable with the configuration of our apartment and they acceded to a third. This has just been fitted, so we now have one in both the bedrooms and one in the lounge. The other area that needs to be cool is the office space and for this we have the unit that Andrea bought back in August that has yet to be used and is still in its packaging.
Our own personal air conditioner is quite a high end portable unit that requires an outlet through a window. With bars fitted everywhere this is an issue but finally I thought through the logistics and it will be up and running soon. I had to have the school make a panel that would fit inside the window unit, with a 16cm circular hole in it. The first one they did had the hole in completely the wrong place; I’m not sure how they managed it. For the second I used the first as a template and in an attempt to get them to cut the thing square marked on two 90° squares on two of the corners. Unfortunately they took this as an instruction to cut out two square sections out of the corners and I now have to start again. I’ve been praying for the return of my electric jigsaw; it would be so easy to do it myself!