Postcards from the Edge

of Bangladesh

The hell that is the G.P.O

Needless to say my trip to the general post office did not go well.

Firstly, it was a long sweaty hour long CNG ride over there. And it is hot in Dhaka yesterday. But isn’t it always. 

The G.P.O (as it is affectionately known) is a ha-uge place. And the counters for foreign mail are on the oooother side. So a good 10 minute walk finds me at the foreign mail section. In my hands I hold a letter that I can’t read, but am reliably told by VSO  is the evidence required that the G.P.O are holding my packages hostage until I pay them a visit.

It all starts off quite well. A well wisher helps me find the place I need to be in. I thought he was a G.P.O employee, but turns out he is just a pleasant chap who saw a badeshi who needed help. And he stayed with me the entire time, running interference between the illogical number of people we had to speak. The man deserves a medal.

First, I am told I should have on my person the afore mentioned letter AND an application form. Um, I don’t have an application form. Well, turns out neither do they. As they don’t supply the application forms they demand. You get the application form from another counter, in another building, in another part of Dhaka. So sweet smiles, and a bit of throwing some Bangla words around (they love that stuff here), and the G.P.O. man hand writes my application form. Which I then sign. No idea what it said, but it looked very pretty. 

Then my application form gets handed to the guy sitting at the next door desk. Who isn’t there. So we wait 20mins for him to come back. He does some stuff, stamps things and writes things. Then I’m directed with forms to the supervisor, who does some stuff, stamps things and writes things. Then I’m sent to another room down the corridor . Here someone looks for my package. And actually it turns out I have two waiting for me. BONUS. Eventually packages are tracked down, quite by mistake I can only assume as there is no rhyme or reason that I can see to the stacks of parcels. Then me and my form to go the next person, who does some stuff, stamps things and writes things. Then we wait.

And wait.

Then the customs person comes to inspect my packages. So they both get opened. And everything within them gets opened. And inspected, by about 6 guys. So the pleasure of discovering what is in my packages is spoilt by 6 pairs of hands rummaging through everything, while I hang around the edge of the bun-fight trying to see what’s going on.

Various questions are asked. E.g. Are these sanitary pads? No, they are cleaning pads I read about on the internet to try get my Mac back to it’s former glory. The creams, deodorants etc are opened and smelled. Someone comments on the nice smelling deodorant. I’m so glad they approve. The daily disposable contact lenses require much consideration and cause much consternation. One of the packs is taken off for independent analysis.

Independent analysis over. Right, this is it I think, I’m in the home stretch now. Things start to slow down, people start leaving the room. Um, what’s going on and when can I get my parcels and get out of here?

Sorry madame, time is up.

Eh? What? Yes, work is now finished for the day, you will have to come back again tomorrow.

You. Cannot. Be. Serious.

Turns out they were. Very serious. And my badeshi tantrum counted for naught. The clock had struck 4:30 and they had clocked off.

To I have to repeat this charming experience again this morning. Arse.

P.S. This is however NO reason to stop sending packages and parcels. I still don’t know my packages have been held hostage, other people’s get through to the VSO office just fine. Guess I was unlucky. And FYI  a parcel from the outside world is worth 5 times this hassle.

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1 Comment»

  Amanda wrote @

Thanks goodness … was starting to think we were all in for a bollocking for sending said packages in first place. So keep sending them we will. Maybe smaller ones … that might escape through the net easier ??


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