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Come, Before the Tourists Get Here October 8, 2006

Posted by KG in Dhaka, Family.
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The Parents came and left Dhaka, repeating in many ways my whirlwind trip to Calcutta the week before.  One full day was not enough to show them all of this city, but we got to see the highlights, including the massive mall, the National Assembly building, and the obligatory trip to the Dhakeshwari Mandir.  There was also much shopping to be done, and I swear their suitcase left Dhaka at least ten pounds heavier.  They were pleasantly surprised by the DHK, at its wide avenues, lack of air pollution, and greenery.  Likewise at its unpredictability, the chaos that is so ever present that it ceases to be surprising.

The best part about the folks visiting was the fact that the roles were reversed and I got to play host to them for once.  It was comforting to have them in the spare room (snoring away as usual), seeing a city that I’m coming to think of as home through new eyes.    It helped immensely that they actually enjoyed Dhaka.  I’m hoping that they come back.

In that vein: Dhaka.  The more time I spend here, the more time I realize what a nice place it actually is.  Like any huge — okay, enormous — city in a developing country, it has its own special issues.  But its a fascinating place to be, and on the whole very pleasant.  The chaos that I found choking and frustrating has become background noise, and its easier now to appreciate the myriad parts of this city that make it so unique.  I know I’m speaking from less than a month’s experience here, but Dhaka has something about it all its own that I was definitely not expecting.  In many ways, it feels like India did to me back in the mid-nineties, millions of people with untapped potential and a serious love of life, moving through their day to day lives in lungis and shalwar kameezes.  Visiting here is not such a scary proposition, and if you come without any prior expections I suspect you could actually find it to be a fun trip.  Sure, it may not be Club Med, but seriously:  I’ve got a spare room.  Give it a try.  At the very least, you can enjoy the offerings of Ayub, my unbelievable cook, and hang out with me on the veranda watching the rickshaws go by.

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