Postcards from the Edge

of Bangladesh

Archive for daylight savings

Daylight savings: Cancelled

Found out yesterday, the government has decided to scrap daylight savings here in the Desh. Bangladesh DST, the time that never really was.

A potentially good idea to introduce daylight saving here, but a crises, what a disaster from the get go. Badly thought out, poorly implemented (I use the word implemented, but a lot of people didn’t even bother to change their clocks in the first place) and then cancelled a few days before the next official clock change (originally scheduled for 31st March). I appreciate that the government was trying something new to deal with the energy crisis, but a little forethought, consultation and understanding of potential issues would have gone a long way. And would have saved a lot of time and money.

Speaking of energy crises, the availability of power is sharply on the decrease as the hot-as-feck season approaches. Power only seems to be on for about an hour-ish between sunset and my bedtime. Which admittedly is pretty early these days at 10pm, but really, who is interested in hanging around in the dark anyway. But we’re really really REALLY lucky here in Rangamati at the moment, as we haven’t yet reached the full all out sweat-athon being enjoyed by the rest of Bangladesh. Reading Facebook updates other volunteers are having a pretty shitty time out there. Especially in Dhaka. It sounds like it’s an oven up there at the moment. An oven that won’t be cooling down for about 6 months. Meanwhile here in Rangamati, Tony was wearing a jumper a breakfast yesterday. A jumper. At the end of March. In Bangladesh. Unheard of. Doing our best to enjoy it while it lasts.


Daylight what? (Part two)

Following on from the debacle of the implementation of daylight savings for the first time in Bangladesh (here and just how much the ensuing confusion pissed me off here), the government decided on Thursday to change the clocks back to Bangladeshi standard time again. On the 31st December.

Again, a whole week has been given to let people know about this… I doubt the news will reach everyone in time. Which in fact might not be a problem, as a lot of people simply never changed their clocks the first time round. On the arbitrarily decided date of 19th June, the clocks went forward a hour. But apparently some communities in Bangladesh refused to follow the new time, as they believed it was a conspiracy by the Awami League government. We thought this was an urban myth, until we went for a guided walk through Old Dhaka and noticed that most of the clocks were still set to the old time. Which, come midnight on 31 December, will again become the new time. None of this manual changing of clocks for the folks of Old Dhaka, they have their time and they’re sticking to it. Which means that for at least 6 months of the year, they’ll be on the right time. Daylight savings in Bangladesh is to become an annual event, from 31 March to 31 October. You know, pre-determined, set dates like other countries. Not random, decided-yesterday dates like 19 June to 31 December. This is, at least, a step in the right direction. And changing the clocks back in winter does make sense, as 7am looks like this right now:

Cold, dark and misty

Did you notice there that the clocks are changing back at midnight on the 31st December? I’m trying to figure out if that means I get two ‘Happy New Year!!’ moments, or if I get none. Let’s work this out… the clocks go back, so at midnight the clocks change back to 11pm. Ah, so I’ll have two ‘Happy New Year!!’ moments. What a blast. On the night, we must remember to do the celebrations twice. This, I’m sure, is the only country ever to change back to standard time at midnight on New Year’s Eve. This will be an experience one can only get in Bangladesh. Along with so many other treasured experiences…

High Horses

Yesterday we got an email from VSO Bangladesh, advising that their office hours had now changed from 9am – 5pm to 10am to 6pm. As per the government order issued from the Ministry of Establishments…

What? Why? Is there is Ministry that sits around and makes random decisions about changing office times? Why on earth? What the …? I jumped onto my Logical High Horse (which is a lot like my Moral High Horse, but obviously used for different injustices to my sensibilities). This harked back to when the government changed the school times, which happened just after I arrived here. And the Day Light Savings debacle. This new office time change just doesn’t make sense, surely this is just bureaucracy gone mad,coupled with ministers with too much time on their hands?

Turns out this office time change is just for major cities, in an attempt to ease the daily traffic gridlock (or so my colleague tells me). They are staggering office, school and university starting times, so not everyone rushes out and onto the streets at the same time for morning and evening commutes. So I guess this does make sense after all? But some reports say the people drop their children off to school on the way to the office, so who knows how this staggered office/school/university start time will actually pan out. But maybe I spend too much time looking for things that Just. Don’t. Make. Sense. here that I’m way too quick to find fault in almost everything. Sometimes. And FYI, apparently the current Day Light Saving time will not be set back to standard Bangladesh time. Moving time forwards and backwards in a tropical country like Bangladesh doesn’t make much difference in the first place, as not much daylight is actually saved by it…but let me not get started on that…

I would have known about this office time change of course, if I actually read the paper here. I try that every now and then. But give up pretty quickly because

a) Stories are spread across about 12 pages. You start reading a small column on page 1, which then refers you to page 4, then page 7, then page 3, then page 16, then page 14…You spend most of your time just paging through the damn paper just to put the pieces of the article jigsaw puzzle together. Why don’t they put the full article onto just one page? Why the need to slice and dice them so many times?

b) I find the language so hard on the ear. It’s English, but not as I use it. The sentence structures are long and awkward, using very odd/unusual turn of phrases, peppered with words I didn’t even know existed. Perhaps they use a dictionary or thesaurus dated around 1900?

c) It’s depressing. Very depressing.

Perhaps someone can recommend a good online news site for Bangladesh / South Asia. I really should make an attempt to keep up with the happenings and going-ons. And the office time changes.

Daylight Savings Rage

Yesterday I started my day in a foul mood, which unluckily for those around me, worsened as the day progressed.

The bus I catch from Dhaka to Rangmati always used to depart at 7am. But now, because of the general confusion and chaos of daylight savings, the company has moved the time to 8am. In my frustration, I wanted to grab the people at the bus counter by the hair and smash their heads against the wall. A touch dramatic, I know.

Reasons for frustration:

Large buses are not allowed to travel through central Dhaka after 7:30am. I know, get that, a rule people actually abide to. So this means that I can no longer get on my bus, settle in and get off at Rangamati a mere 8 hours later. I now have to catch another smaller, shittier bus that takes me to the shitty outskirts of Dhaka. Where I have to alight, with all my luggage (I never would have gone shopping if I knew THIS was going to happen), wait in a shitty waiting room until my actual bus arrives. And because we’re now travelling through Dhaka at 8am instead of 7am, the morning rush hour traffic has to be contended with, which obviously slows us down. So with the additional traffic, and changing of buses, my journey is even longer. At a smashing 10.5 hours.

And it’s all so fecking unnecessary. The bus time does NOT have to move an hour later because of daylight savings time. Can’t they see that it’s just unbelievably stooooopid? Besides, I’m sure it now costs more to run the service, what with the need for an additional bus and driver. Why can’t they SEE?!! I mean, honestly, WTF.

And the bus driver was particularly heavy on the hooter yesterday. Which I’m convinced was louder than usual. At times I was ready to rip the hooter out and shove it down the driver’s throat. I really, really was ready to do it.

I was not a pleasant person yesterday.

In other DST news: A fellow volunteer working in another NGO has had her working hours changed. The NGO used to work from 9am – 5am. They have recently adjusted their working hours because of daylight savings, and now work from 9am – 4pm. Isn’t that special.

Today, I work on my patience and general levels of acceptance.

It might just be crazy enough to work


Passing the DST bill in Bangladesh was not met with as much enthusiasm as the US in 1918

Maybe I was overly pessimistic on how this daylight saving thing would work here. Perhaps in a country where there just don’t seem to be any rules, changing something like the time doesn’t seem any more ludicrous than anything else that happens here. Things thrive here in chaos, so why should this be any different.

And it turns out I was reliably misinformed about the timing of the time change. The government changed switch over from the ambiguous midnight on 19th June, to 11pm on 19th June. So today Bangladesh is officially 1 hour ahead. Which has caused concern for my laptop time as Bangladeshi DST (Daylight Savings Time) hasn’t made itself very well known in the world out there, so I’m now running on Bangkok time to get the right time.

So this year, The Daily Star newspaper tells me, DST is effective from 19 June until 1 October. And next year it is allegedly effective from 1 April to 1 October. But other reports maintain that it hasn’t been decided yet will DST will end. A rather well thought out plan isn’t it. 

But all said and done, everyone around here at least seem to know about it. But reading the paper however makes me wonder if people are ‘get’ this concept on all the right levels. The Bangladesh Bank has moved it’s official lunch time 1 hour ahead, from 1pm to 2pm. The courts have done similar things with their opening hours and lunch times. See, there is no reason to change the timings of things, everything just follows it’s normal time. It’s the underlying TIME that has changed. Don’t you see?

Anyway, this is very much part of the fun of being here. Let’s see what happens. Even in the UK, every March and every October people have that same conversation: ‘so does this mean that we gain an hour or lose an hour in bed?’And they grew up with daylight savings. Shame.

UPDATED TO ADD: I think I’ve realised why organisations have changed lunch times etc. It’s because lunch time here will also be prayer time. And Muslims pray at certain times of the day, based on the sun. i.e. before sunrise, noon, after sunset etc. Or so my Dummy’s Guide to Understanding Islam tells me. Yes, I actually have a copy on my person, borrowed from the VSO library.

Daylight what?

In an attempt to alleviate the electricity crisis in Bangladesh, the government has decided to implement daylight savings for the first time. Effective from midnight tonight. Or midnight tomorrow night. Or at some other point in time. No one appears to be exactly sure when the change is happening. 

The official time quoted is midnight 19th June. So is that tonight at midnight when it becomes the 19th June, or tomorrow night at midnight when it will actually be midnight on 19th June? It’s a tough call to make. Now normally it wouldn’t bother me too much, I’d watch the ensuing chaos with bemused detachment. Except tomorrow I am catching a bus at 7am. 

I can’t imagine that daylight saving is easy to implement for the first time in any country. But here in the Desh, eish. I didn’t even realise that it was actually happening, last time I checked it was just a proposal being bandied about. How does one inform a country of 150 million people, a lot of whom are illiterate, about this new fandangled concept called Daylight Savings. When I experienced my first clock change in the UK I honestly thought my flatmate was having me on. No, a country won’t actually change it’s TIME. That is just silly.

I can’t imagine that any clever things have been done with automatic time changes on IT systems or such things. Really, I just can’t picture that implementation strategy meeting.

But it would appear that the bus company I am using tomorrow is staging a one man stand against this evil idea of changing the time. My questions were waived aside with a look of scorn for such a ludicrous notion. Clearly daylight savings is not on their agenda. 

Or at least I think so. Let’s see what happens at 7am tomorrow. I may or may not be on time for my bus.