Sunday, September 1, 2013

The first few days

We have been in Dhaka for 5 days now.  

When we got to the airport, we were picked up by the embassy staff.  We spent Wednesday sleeping.  Thursday morning I was awoken by the dawn call to prayer from the nearby mosque at 4:45am and couldn't get back to sleep.  We were both awake by 5am, so we went outside and discovered a small park with a walking path along the lake near our house and went for an early morning stroll. 

Later in the day I went our shopping with the embassy Community Liaison Officer.  Her job is to ensure that our transition into life in Dhaka goes as smoothly as possible.  We visited a few food stores and she showed me where it was safe to buy produce, meat and bread.  Each of these items requires a trip to a different store...although all in the same neighbourhood

Veggies and fruit come from a small shop inside an apartment.  The selection is limited but they offer  home delivery.  I learned that most produce, meat and fish you buy here is shipped in formaldehyde which is a cheaper way of keeping food fresh.  Unfortunately this causes the food to be contaminated with formalin.  Even when buying from this vendor, we have to soak all produce in filtered water with bleach before eating it.

The selection of fruits and vegetables is limited.  Currently the only fruits available are bananas, pineapple and papaya.  Lara assured me that there would be a season for mangos, oranges and leechies as well.  Veggies are also limited, although to a lesser extent.

Meat can be purchased from the "German Butcher"  or "White Hen".  White Hen is owned by an Australian who is working to teach locals how to safely and hygienically prepare meats.  Bread comes from a bakery located inside a Korean Restaurant.  There have been many reports lately 

We went to the World Bank to test drive a car which we had been thinking of buying yesterday.  We are happy with it, so we are going to buy it.  It's a 2006 RAV4, it's better to be a bit higher off the ground as heavy rains can lead to several feet of water on the streets.  We should have the car by the end of the next week once all the paper work has gone through.  For now we are getting around on foot, as we can walk to the Canadian High Commission and getting rides from other people.  Now we just have to find a driver....

The Good Life
Some great things that I have discovered about Dhaka so far:
1. Home delivery.  Almost anything can be delivered to you and for cheep or free.  Plus once you have a driver, you can ask them to go pick up whatever you want.

2. Tailoring.  If you have an item of clothing that you like, you simply bring it to the tailor and they will make you an exact a copy.  This also applies to handbags and shoes.

3. Cooking/Cleaning.  Hiring someone to do this is incredibly affordable.  I'm hoping that the cook will also be able to teach me how to cook bengali cuisine.

4. People. Overall people are very friendly and helpful.  You don't get hassled much and when you say no people will leave you alone.  There are very few issues with crime.

View out the car window as we were driving to the World Bank to look at a car. The windows of the car were tinted, so the sky looks much darker than it was. 

Driving to the World Bank.  Traffic was very light because it was a weekend, so it only took 30 minutes.  

There are tons of auto rickshaws (called CNGs) here.

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