Today was the second last day of our induction training here in Dhaka, and I get bussed out to Rangamati on Tuesday morning to start my new life in the Hill Tracts. I am so excited to get started and start working again. Never thought I’d say that. But then again it has been almost 6 months since my last actual day of work with Accenture. And oh what a joy it has been not working. But now I’m ready start using my brain again. Let’s hope it still works.
We had our placement shopping day on Friday. We get a ‘soft furnishing grant’ from VSO to kit our new accommodation out with, and since my new little house is only equipped with ‘hard furnishings’ (bed, couch, chest of drawers etc, all this VSO talk) I had a LOT of shopping to do. It’s not easy having one day to buy everything (or even the bare essentials) that you’ll need in a flat. From cutlery to crockery to mattress to water purifier to towels to wok to bed sheets to mosquito net to hurricane lamp – that’s a lot of pressure.
And bear in mind this was not done in some nice, air conditioned shopping mall or along charming high street or even in a monstrous Ikea, this shopping was all done Bangladeshi style. Hot, humid, crowded market place teaming with people and with vendors who see the badeshi (foreigner) and hike the prices up something crazy. They literally see us coming. Haggling is hard work, and difficult when one doesn’t have even have a clue in what ball park the prices should be. And shopping is never a solo sport here, various people get involved and some just like to watch the badeshi spectacle. But I must say that there is often a member of the crowd who will provide some very useful assistance and even haggle on your behalf. Same goes for when one is lost and bewildered wondering around Dhaka. Despite all the challenges of living in a city like Dhaka, it is the kindness of absolute strangers that really touch your heart. People will go out of their way to help you. Will literally cross the street to see if you need help. People who have nothing at all to gain from helping you, but do it anyway.