So, as expected this has been a pretty quiet week. The guys were supposed to get home yesterday. They aren’t getting home until next Thursday…two weeks living alone in Dhaka isn’t exactly a blast. There is very little to do, especially on my own, and the apartment is so quiet to come home to every day.
So, yeah it’s been crazy quiet and I’ve been pretty bored. It’s hard when there are so few people to interact with. 75% of the people I do interact with day to day don’t speak English. And days at work are spent pretty much doing just that: work. People are pretty focused there, and in and out throughout the day. Sometimes it’s just a couple people in my area of the office. After work, I’ve just been walking home and picking up food on the way home. Lots of reading. I’m definitely learning to entertain myself and be okay on my own! I guess that’s something. And now it’s the weekend. I’m sitting in a café near the office. I came to just get out of the apartment and get out a little. They’re playing Celine Dione’s “My Heart Will Go On” right now. Titanic. Great movie. The walk to the café was really nice. I would almost venture to say it’s cool out today. It must have rained last night. Also the streets are as quiet as I’ve ever seen them. I will have to walk around more on the weekends! It’s nice to not have quite the same hectic chaos that this area is during the week. The streets are actually manageable to cross! I think I’m going to do something with Ariadna this weekend—she mentioned a jazz concert at a café. There are veryyyy few options of things to do in Dhaka…
I think I’ll also try and head to the market and get some food and maybe cook tonight. The market even looked sort of quiet on my walk over. The markets have beautiful flower stands, and almost all of them have lilies—my favorite. Maybe I’ll pick some of those up too. Someone at the office told me all the mangos are loaded with preservatives. So sad. I guess they’re not the safest to eat. The region my project is in, though, I guess has fresh mangoes without preservatives. We are going to the field on Tuesday, so we will be able to get some mangoes then! Also, yes, I am going to the field Tuesday night! That will help break up this monotonous time spent here alone. We’re taking the overnight train Tuesday night and then the overnight train back to Dhaka Wednesday night. Sort of a hectic trip, but I am still really excited. We’re just going to try and get some answers about the clusters (groups) of people getting formed by another organization (BRAC) and seeing if we can use them in our next intervention.
In other news from this week, somebody in the office is getting married! And we are all invited. Ariadna said I will need to get a sari for it. I’m really excited; it should be such a fun event to experience. I also had to get to the bank this week, and Alamgir offered his car (and driver) to take me while I was at work. The bank I needed is a ten-minute walk MAYBE. It took 40 minutes to drive there….We were stuck in traffic the whole time. Bank security is funny here. One of the banks we’ve been to had just a guy sitting with a straight up shot gun at the door…interesting approach. On the way to the bank, we passed tons of little food stands, with all sorts of different street food I didn’t recognize. I’d love to try some; I’ll have to see what is and isn’t safe to eat from them.
I’m going to have to find some things to do with my free time. Apparently when Ramadan starts (the beginning of July) the office closes at 3pm. Food places are sort of shut down, as is the city. People aren’t really out on the streets much. I guess it’s sort of dangerous to be out on the streets, because it’s so dead. But certain areas are really cool to go to for breaking fast at the end of each day, so I will have to check some of them out. As for all the extra time I will have (and even have right now) I am trying to see if there are places I can volunteer. It’s hard being here and having my work mostly be with numbers on my computer at a desk. I'm learning a lot about economic development work, and this is a big part of it, but I would love to feel I was doing some hands on work while I'm here, as well. Not that taking the time to volunteer a little here and there will make much of a difference, but I’d love to get involved in the community more and interact with people. I think I am just dying to interact with some people!! It will be so great when the guys get home from the field… I’m going crazyyyy alone. Also, it would be neat to get a better idea of some of the work being done in Dhaka, especially from local organizations. I have reached out to a couple, so we will see. It doesn’t help that I speak NO Bangla…but hopefully someone will take me!
As for other ideas, at least once the boys get home, I will be getting out more and exploring the city. After the episode of exploring-gone-wrong last weekend with the protest, I will definitely be careful to AVOID Shabagh and any other protest areas in my exploration. This weekend, I will probably lay low. Like I said, I may spend some time with Ariadna. Martin’s girlfriend is in town from India, so it sounds like he is spending the weekend with her. I may try and find some other stores to get more local clothes. We’ll see how that excursion goes…I’ve taken to trying to walk places so I don’t have to deal with rickshaws. If you don’t know where you’re going on one of them, it’s impossible, and they way overcharge. If I head into Gulshan 1 or 2, though, I will obviously need to take one. We shall see where this solo weekend takes me… my excitement and sense of adventure is fading a little. I could use some companionship to gain it back! For now, things are slow and there’s not much going on and there’s not much to do here. Hopefully my next post will be an update with a little more excitement!