Postcards from the Edge

of Bangladesh

It’s time for me to go.

Oh, it’s time. It’s time all right. Get. Me. Out. Of. Here.

Needless to say, I’m still here. Was hoping to actually be on the train outta here (to Calcutta) as I type this. But Indian High Commission put a stop to that, as visa was only issued this afternoon. In the mean time, Dhaka chewed me up, spat me out and told me in no uncertain terms, it’s time for me to leave.

Started off at the post office. What a wonderful way to start a day. By them telling me that they couldn’t send my package as they couldn’t paste their stamps on it. I’d gone a little OCD with taping it up, and left no part of the package un-taped. Ma-hosive problem for the folks at the post office it would seem. I just looove the lateral thinking on show at the place…. I shouted, he ignored. I shouted more, with a lot of ‘I fucking hate this country’ thrown in. Eventually he conceded that he could open the draw to his right, pull out some tape and tape the postage stamp on. How terribly nice of him. Then I sweated it out in a CNG in rush hour traffic to the train station, to buy my ticket to Calcutta. But was informed: no visa, no ticket. Shouting had no effect this time. AND was told that there also might be no trains to Calcutta on Tuesday anyway (trains only leave twice a week, Sunday and Tuesday) because there could be a general strike in India on the 27th. Only way to know for certain was to reappear at the train counter tomorrow afternoon.

Went to cool off at the Bagha, and was called to say that my India visa was ready for collection. Caught a rickshaw and negotiated 100 taka round trip fare. Half way back he starts with the 150taka story. I knew it, I forking knew it was coming. I tried to explain that today was not the day to be fucking with me. Not heeding to my advice, he stopped pedalling and refused to move until I agreed on 150 taka. I got off the rickshaw, shouted ‘well now you’re not getting any fucking taka from me’ and stormed off. Rickshaw wallah follows me, demanding payment. I throw 70 taka at him, swear some more and continue the sweaty stomp back to the Bagha by foot. And for the record, it’s not about the money. It’s the principle of it. I’m sick to death of being ripped off. Constantly.

Later I find out my ‘change of route’ permit hasn’t been issued. You know, that amazing piece of Bangladeshi mastery that requires approval if one wants to leave by land after having arrived by air. Am told I’d have to spend tomorrow morning in the visa office to obtain such an approval.

Decide that a morning spent in the Bangladeshi visa office, followed by an afternoon at the train station with a potential train strike thrown in for good measure is All Just Too Much. So fuck it, I’m flying direct to Delhi instead. Don’t reeeeally have the cash to throw around. But with my dangerously low levels of patience in this country, it’s safest for all of us if I just leave as quickly, and as easily as possible.

PS Yes, today had a lot of swearing in it. Usually I’m not this bad. But sometimes it just get too much, gets up in your face too much, gets up your nose too much. It being this city, Dhaka. How do people LIVE here?



  Julie wrote @

I feel ya pain sisa. 100 percent. Big hug. Enjoy India. xxx

  Gareth Davies wrote @

Well done, I hope you enjoyed your time there. Graham is already planning my return?? To do what I’m not sure but I’m certain I’ll find out.


  Ernesto Palmero wrote @

I have been thinking for quite some time to volunteer. I am Cuban and I have been working in Europa for sometime now. I think I have been lucky first to have a good education in Cuba and later to find a job here. Now I feel is the time for me to share that. To give some of me to other people and your blog have really give me the final push. I would contact the same organization and hope I can fullfil that dream I have. I know deep in my heart that changing the world is a difficult task, we are just little Taras in an ocean of chaotic light but I prefer to try and fail that never take that risk. Thanks a lot for this nice blog.

  cbmexperience wrote @

I completely feel your pain. I was trapped in this country with no visa for awhile, and had so much to go through. Now I’m back, so maybe I’m a sucker for pain. I enjoy reading your blog, but you haven’t posted lately. What happened? Hope you aren’t trapped in some hellhole without internet. Bangladesh has now cut off Facebook, if you haven’t heard, and seems to be in no hurry to give it back.

Good luck in Calcutta and India.

  Jessi wrote @

Hey! I might be going to Bangladesh this fall for a volunteer opportunity and found your blog while doing some research 🙂 I was wondering if you could tell me more about how safe you felt while you were there? and other tips/concerns about living in Bangladesh for year – I will be in Chittagong. Thanks!

  Martin wrote @

Hey you know I was there… in Rangamati…Dhaka… Chittagong ship breaking yards… fantastic and weird at the same time… talk more on Facebook… 🙂 m

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