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Showing posts from February, 2011

Weekend Lite

I'd intended to rest up this weekend, but fate had other plans. Friday was pretty awesome, actually -- I went to Bittersweet cafe in Gulshan-2 and met a Parisian who railed against gender discrimination in this country when it comes to offering drugs, alcohol, and, er, escorts to foreigners. "Why don't I get those offers just because I'm a woman?" she demanded, as I happily slurped at actual coffee. Good times.

Friday night was another story. I had to revise a proposal and didn't get to bed until around 2 AM, which was when Boston office lunched and stopped calling and e-mailing me. So I woke up the next morning bleary-eyed for my 10 AM massage/general beauty appointment, which went okay (I am no longer a hairy monkey, but massage is better sa 'pinas). Then I tagged along to the home of a nice lady who was donating books to us, and she took us to the American Club.

Now, you might think that being at the American Club is the perfect time to order a nice, …


OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD. CNN'S 2010 HERO OF THE YEAR IS HERE. As in, she is staying here in the guest house with me. This is me after she introduced herself.

Nobel laureates! Heroes of the Year! Am I glowing from all the humanitarian superstars I'm meeting? God, I hope so!
More tomorrow after I ambush her for photos.

Everything is Curry

One way to avoid curry here is to eat at a Chinese restaurant, which of course has its share of perils, including blistering green peppers masquerading as green beans for the unwary vegetable lover. But I must say I am a fan of the Szechuan beef, which is tender and tasty as beef should be.

This post is brought to you by sleepless nights courtesy of overseas office drama.

Look, Ma, I Have Friends!

In the US my motto is "arrive on time." In Bangladesh my motto is "arrive alive." Spent a fewhours in traffic today, first on my way to work, and then later back from a book launching event. The morning bit didn't faze me, though, even when my driver tried to sneak into a cantonment for a shortcut and the soldier at the entrance took one look at my clothes and banished us to an ignominious side street.

Here's what traffic is usually like. So I'd be in a little green cage with wheels on, which smooshes itself as close as possible to the vehicle in front of it. Meanwhile, the vehicle or rickshaw behind my CNG would be smooshed against us. And everyone is honking to let all pedestrians know that by God, they will get run over! Seriously, drivers don't slow down for crossing people, but I think there's a Bangladeshi gene that allows people on the street to scamper to safety in just the nick of time. It's all good.
I was gregarious today and chee…

The Little Intern

My mornings usually start off with my mind screaming, "Wake up! You have terrible horrible emails in your inbox!" So then I roll out of bed, stretch, shower, and tell good ol' helper what I'd like for breakfast. It's usually a cheese sandwich and yogurt and banana with my staple milk tea, but yesterday I knew that lunch would be impossible so I told her I wanted my leftover beef from yesterday, and some rice and dahl. It was 8:45 am. When I told her I would need this food by 9:30, she was all, "OMG no can do!" (I'm paraphrasing here). But long story short, I got to gulp down my breakfast in plenty of time, because my Dhaka-boss was late.

Here's my lunch. Everyday at the office, a peon (hehe, makes me think of Warcraft II) comes 'round and delivers tea and some sort of baked good to everyone. So since my baked good was full of potatoes and onions, I figured I'd call it lunch instead of snack. I was glued to my screen all day, with only a…

Laundry vs mosquitoes

I despise laundry. I hate lugging the basket all the way to the washing machine, then transferring to the dryer, then lugging it back, and then folding all my clothes. I am also against the act of ironing, unless the act is performed by someone else, on my clothes.

So imagine my utter delight when I saw this neat little pile of ironed and folded clothes! Even my polka dot pajamas got ironed! Ha ha ha!
The great thing about being here in the guest house is that I get someone who will cook, clean, and wash for me. She is also very alert (when she's not watching cricket on TV), and comes over every so often to check if I want milk tea. The answer is usually yes. My meals usually consist of the basics: rice, curried/spicy meat, dahl (lentil soup), and a random non-leafy vegetable, like eggplant. Or is eggplant a fruit? It has seeds, right? Fruits are not veggies because fruits have seeds, right? No se.
The non-great thing about being here is that I don't get a day off ever. Friday…

OMG My Face Is So Round

The work week here goes from Sunday through Thursday, so I thought I'd get to relax on Friday and Saturday. No such luck. I spent most of Friday with my bum parked in my work chair, conscientiously typing up a talking points document (that was subsequently ignored, oh well) and trying to organize my inbox. It's quite something to wake up to 50 emails full of screaming instructions, but fortunately I have absorbed the "insha'Allah" attitude here, which is equivalent to our "bahala na ang Diyos" state of Zen (although of course we usually say "bahala na si Batman").

Fortunately, a dear former colleague texted me with an invite to dinner with his family, so I leapt at the chance. He works in government, so we got a government jeep, and on the ride over he told me all about his being "on duty" at the ICC Cricket World Cup opening, which I saw on TV. It featured live singing acts -- including Bryan Adams of all people -- and looked like …

Day 2: Derp?

Not much to report. I went to the SIKROT location and got to know some of the people who work there, and my fellow interns. Yes, it seems I am the Crisis Intern, which is either awesome if you think about it, or I swear it's not what you think.
Anyway, the office sports a sweet view of the stadium where some ICC cricket world cup matches will take place. I read in the local paper that lots of people were howling mad this past week because they got vouchers from banks, but then couldn't get their tickets at the stadium because the ticket booths closed abruptly and without explanation. So there was a big bunch of people who had vouchers for tickets but couldn't get into the stadium! Eek! Fortunately, I think those were only the practice matches, but sports fans are nuts, in my limited experience. I say limited because I usually avoid sports fans.
I got home via CNG today for Tk100, which is more than what I saw on the meter, but the office peon -- they literally call him …

Day 1: Dhoooooom

The morning of my first full day began innocently enough, with doves cooing gently outside my window. I had slept soundly and with nary a mosquito bite (thank you, mosquito net inventor!). I took a cold shower, lounged in bed to finish a book (it was a national holiday so all offices were closed), then decided to venture outside to search for the legendary King's Cafe, a Malaysian coffee house franchise.

Since I am adventurous (and my place is tucked away where no rickshaw dare enter), I decided to walk. Basically, I have three bustling streets to deal with: Airport Road, Kamal Ataturk Road, and the glamorous Road 11--don't let the name fool you! Airport Road boasts a pedestrian overpass (Allah be praised!), and I present to you a view of Dhaka traffic on a good day.

I was also pleased to note that the capital offers equal opportunity employment when it comes to backbreaking labor. These ladies were delighted at my not-so-ninja picture taking, and posed smilingly long after I …

Epic Journey, Tapos Brownout

The red line of epic-ness!

Revelation: airline ticket counters are hot spots for human kindness. It all began as I checked in for the Boston-JFK leg of my epic two-day journey to Bangladesh. Evil officials bent on maximum inconvenience had decreed that passengers could only carry two items on the plane: a purse OR a laptop bag OR a tiny tiny carry-on bag. But I had all three! In response to my blank stare upon being told about the cabin limits, the lady told me to just stick my purse in my carry-on. Viola, it fit, and I walked away a proper citizen adhering to all flying rules.

Then, after magically heading in exactly the right direction to get to my terminal in NY, the ticket guy for Emirates weighed my carry-on and announced that it was overweight and would have to be checked in. BUT, my carry-on contained highly stealable items (TX calculators) that I'd been assigned to hand carry to the SIKROT location, so I fired back, "No, I need the stuff in there. Can I repack?" …

Off Again!

Aalis na naman ako! Magsusulat ako in Tagalog kasi sabi ni bosing lihim na PANUKALA ang dahilan ng aking paglakbay. Sa Linggo ang lipad ko. Isang buwan ako sa Bangladesh. Nakakalokaaaaa!

Datapwat matatanggap naman ito ng puso ko sapagkat nakakapagod din naman maglakad araw-araw sa napakadulas na kalye! Masarap daw ngayon ang panahon sa Bangladesh -- hindi ganon kalamig, at hindi ganon kainit.
May gantimpala sa kung sinong hindi nalito sa post na 'to.