Now that I wrote about the “realities” of life in Dhaka, I’ll tell you some of the “good realities” of life here in Dhaka.
Industriousness: Everywhere. Every time the car slows down, three or four hawkers will come tap on the window and try to get you to buy their wares. Some of the most common items for sale are poster-size laminated maps of Dhaka, the counties, and Bangladesh… flowers, and plastic food containers. Everywhere you look, you will see people doing something. Of course, there are beggars lying on the side of the road, but mostly, you’ll feel the hum and buzz of millions of boys, girls, and adults trying to sell you something. When you park your car, there will be someone there “guarding” your car — sometimes a boy trying to earn 20 Taka (25 cents).
Help: Household help is inexpensive. A full-time nanny costs $100-200 (per month). People are eager to work and they specialize in their field so some families employ the following specialized employees: cook, nanny (ayah), cleaner, bearer (someone who bears/carries things like tea), driver, gardener, and an assortment of combinations of these.
Commerce: Tailor-made clothing is easily at hand. $7 for a shirt. There are tailors all over. Some even come to your house. You can get manicures and massages in the convenience of your own home for very little money. Art supplies like oil paint cost about a fifth of the price in the US. Canvasses (which can be made to order) for painting are a tenth of the price ($5 for a large canvas that costs $50 in the US). Local fruits and vegetables are inexpensive if you shop where the locals shop and haggle like a local.
City life: I’m eating my way through the restaurants of Dhaka. There are many. This is a mega-city in a surge of rapid growth. If you like cities, dirty warts and all, then this is for you.
Adrenaline junkies: Driving in Dhaka is like being in a video game.
Bloggers and National Geographic types: At any moment something will happen that your audience might find a photo-worthy moment. I try to sit with my camera in my lap on almost every car ride. There are no dull days here. Today, I saw a small fluffy dog being walked from a rickshaw… if only I’d had my camera out then…
Smiles: There are 15 million people in Dhaka so you might get 500 smiles a day. Not everyone smiles, but if you smile at them… they might smile at you.