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Posts Tagged ‘Dhaka’

The Dirt on Dhaka

Dhaka

The Pink Palace in Dhaka: Once a playboy’s mansion for parties and amorous activities, now a crumbling museum-ish structure. 

If there was ever a time I was convinced of the evolutionary advantage of nose hair, it was today.  I looked at the blackened Kleenex at the end of the day and gave thanks to the deep forest growing in my nostrils for stopping some of airborne toxins from ending up in my lungs.  Sitting in traffic, and even walking through traffic, the day became mostly a parkour and Frogger display of skill with breathing equivalent to sucking on a tailpipe.  The think haze in the sky was like Beijing on its worst of days and the instant scratchy discomfort in the back of my throat was a clear indication that the city has problems.

I arrived in Dhaka little before midnight after two flights and three movies that I almost stayed awake throughout.  A man from my pre-booked hostel showed up to pick me up, much to my surprise, without a vehicle, so we walked around the airport haggling with tuk-tuks.  Racing down the jam-packed roads with horns incessantly blaring and all sizes of vehicle clamoring for position in their individual interpretations of what driving lanes are, I wondered how people could say India is worse.  I could stick my fingers out chain link side doors and touch three other vehicles at any given point.

Amazingly arriving at the hostel across from a field of garbage after only scraping three other vehicles and stopping hard enough to slam my face into the passenger/driver cage once, I climbed the stairs past stray cats, purified a liter of water, crawled under my mosquito net and was lulled to sleep by the sounds of barking dogs, police whistles, and planes overhead.  The morning crows of roosters added to the mix to rouse me several hours later to face the first dilemma of the trip: My accommodations for the next three weeks just got cancelled.

I’m not saying it was the best plan to begin with, but I had secured a free stay with a random guy I met on facebook through a small volunteering group.  After weeks of banking on that, he sent me a message out of the blue saying his landlord would not allow him to have someone stay there.  Just as quickly (and sketchily) as he offered his space in an unfurnished apartment with no hot water, it was taken away.  I spent the first four hours of my morning sending out a slew of new messages, posting in different groups, and linking up with handfuls of new contacts through WhatsApp.  Luckily, a new sketchy man agreed to pick me up from the airport and let me stay with him.  After volunteering in Lebanon where the volunteer coordinator sent me the name of the intersection in Beirut to catch a van headed towards Damascus, but telling me to make sure I got out halfway so I didn’t enter Syria, I feel okay where I’m at now.

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