"Keep working on a plan. Make no little plans. Make the biggest you can think of, and spend the rest of your life carrying it out." Harry S. Truman

Monday, August 23, 2010

New country, new background, and first impressions.

The last two weeks were spent mostly in the Unicef car, fighting the grueling Dhaka traffic, and visiting big, empty spaces while trying to picture our furniture, and our lives in them. The process was rendered even more difficult by the fact that I fell madly in love with an apartment endowed with the most spectacular view (see picture), but, alas! one unredeemable flaw : they are building two apartment complexes on the next plot, and the construction will most likely last two years... Bye, bye, beautiful view ! Thing is, everything I saw after that felt like "yeah, bof !" But I've now come back to my senses, and settled for an apartment without a fantastic view, but offering other precious commodities : location, a minimum of greenery, space, generator backing, etc. We hope to move in by mid-September. Our shipment is due to arrive a few days later, same for the car. So, all in all, we hope to return to a regular routine by the end of September, and I'll then be able to go back to work, writing, blogging, etc. It will not be a moment too soon. All in all, we've been living out of our suitcases for almost three months, now.

My first impressions of Dhaka? It is interesting to be living in a predominantly Muslim country. In Nigeria, we were in the South-Eastern part, which is heavily Christian. As for Hyderabad, it used to be a state ruled by the Nizams, and the old city remains Muslim, but the vast majority of people are Hindus.

We arrived in Bangladesh during Ramadan, and right now, we're told that everything is geared up toward the upcoming Eid Festival - shops have shorter hours, and at the same time, businesses are open on days when they're usually closed (Fridays) because this is the time when people shop madly to give presents for Eid. Everything is a little slow because people are fasting. The other day, as we came out of one apartment, we saw a gathering of men seating on mats on the floor around small piles of food. It was all the building maintenance people, the drivers, etc, breaking the fast together - that first meal is called Iftar. We are also told that even though the poverty in Bangladesh is crushing, the begging at the moment is worse than usual, because of Ramadan. This is the time when people are supposed to give to the poor. Finally, the traffic is like nothing I've ever experienced before (except maybe Lagos, when we happened to go there). Hyderabad was bad at certain hours of the day, but overall, one got around. And it will get worse, as children are out of school at the moment. I'm not looking forward to that.

That's it for today. More to come, as we slowly settle in.


Uma Krishnaswami said...

Wishing you all the best in your settling-in process, Katia. It can't be easy. My parents moved regularly (all over India) when I was a child, and it was a constant mix of excitement and frustration.

Katia said...

Yes, frustrating, unsettling, but also exciting. Thanks for the good wishes. Hope we can see you here, some day. Has Out of the Way, Out of the Way been translated in Bangla or Bangali ? Want to send me a copy? The girls have mandatory Bangla classes at their new international school. Let me know if I can do anything, OK?

rilla jaggia said...

Hey Katia,
great to see you finally getting settled. So glad you are in touch with Zebudi.
I'm glad you didn't go for the apartment with a view. Two years of construction noise in Sydney drove us batty. Seriously. Need for medication to keep from reaching for a gun batty.
Would love to see pictures of the new place when you finally settle in. Why is it taking so long for your stuff to arrive?
Good luck and loads of fun, InshAllah.

Katia said...

Hey, Rilla, I know, too much noise if not good for one's mental health, but that view... Still, I listended to reason after all. Stuff is still at Mumbai's port!!! Was supposed to leave on Sept 2, now it should be on the 9th... Oh well. Anyway, we cannot move into apart before at least mid-Sept. The previous occupant is gone, but it needs to be emptied, and then cleaned, etc, and with Eid, everything comes to a stand still. Hope you're well. Love :)