***September 2013*** This blog posting continues to get read, so I thought I’d make sure it was still up to date. It is. Still “same, same” as those t-shirts in Cambodia and Thailand keep saying, saying.
I thoroughly enjoy Dhaka, but it occurred to me that some of you might want to know the “realities” of life in Dhaka for an expat like me. So here are some of the “different” things I’ve noticed so far:
I already mentioned the ever pervasive groupies called mosquitoes so we’ll skip those this time.
Otherwise, black snot. Terrible pollution (some get a constant cough). Tepid showers. Dirt. Dust. Hawking (phlegm being brought up). Public urination (and more). Mind boggling traffic. Scrapes to your car. Car crashes. Lack of safety rules. Beggars. Constant hassling when you go out. Staring. Wild dogs roving the streets. Feral cats too. Inflated “foreigner” prices. No traffic rules. No right of way (well, yours, or biggest goes first). No speed limit signs. Addresses known by the house’s name and not number. Lots of cussing (from foreigners driving). Funky smells every day. Bugs. Piles of dirt. Constant noise.
And more on the “huh, hadn’t thought of that!” sort of category… there are no cookie sheets here (since they use tandoor ovens so the cookies would have to be slapped on the sides like naan). Buttons are expensive (50 cents/button). In terms of imported foods, for example, you can buy tomato paste here… but instead of Costco’s price of $5 for six mini cans, it’ll be $4 for one large can. Celery is imported from Thailand and costs $12! Mushrooms are hard to find. ***much has changed in 18 months and some things are easier to find.***
Also, another thing that is different… although it seems odd to think that you would need lots of laundry detergent or plastic garbage bags etc, the actual reason that you would need so many things is that your household help will go through the stuff EVERY day… like literally a plastic trash bag every single day! You can try to teach them not to do this…
So, many of these “realities” are chandelier problems (as in “which chandelier shall I buy?”) but depending on the person, these can be big issues. Not to me. But, perhaps, I am in still in the honeymoon phase of my Bangladeshi experience… ***no longer in the honeymoon phase but all these truths are true.***