March 23, 2004
Day 1 - Somewhat Sleepy (Dhaka)

I arrived in Dhaka at 6:00 am local time, 7:00 pm EST. At this point, my body had given up trying to guess what time it really was. My sister had taken advantage of her High Commission connections to get a pass directly into the arrivals area. There she noticed that while there were still about a hundred people in the two foreigner customs lines (including me, at the back), the three Bangladeshi line guys were sitting around with nothing to do. They were caught in a state where they were willing to process anyone who came to them, but not willing to advertise this fact. Taking advantage of this, I sprinted to the front. It's a dog-eat-dog world.

Emerging from the airport, I was unprepared for the awaiting throngs. I'm aware that in North America, there are a number of people who go out to watch planes land and take off (I don't know why), but here was a crowd of the size normally associated with major sporting events. And they weren't there to watch the planes; they thronged against fences just to witness the spectacle of people emerging from the arrivals area. I tried to foreign and exciting; I think it must have worked, because our driver was able to identify me as the Canadian he was looking for, having seen only the back of my head.

We encountered a volume of traffic "much higher" than my sister had previously experienced coming from the airport. I'm somewhat skeptical as to how often she comes back from the airport at 6:30 am. I saw a no-honking sign. It's kind of like the "it is against state law to run over pedestrians in cross-walks" signs you see in New Jersey. Promising.

My sister and brother-in-law live in the foreign missions part of town: Gulshan (full name: Gulshan Model Town). Interestingly, addresses are given as being in either Gulshan-1 or Gulshan-2, depending on which of the major traffic circles is nearest. When I say "traffic circles," you should not imagine the somewhat orderly intersections of the type they have in the UK, or the watered-down traffic-circles-with-traffic-lights you find in North America. What I mean is "a circular area with traffic passing through it".

My body still reeling drunkenly trying to figure out why the sun was up, I went for a walk around Gulshan. It was good to be back in a place where the streets are filled with people who all seem to have something to do but a fairly relaxed attitude about doing it. There seems to be a lot of new construction going on. I don't know if that represents a real estate boom, or shoddy previous construction.

In the afternoon, I slept.

Accompanying photos.

Posted: March 23, 2004 08:40 AM
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