Postcards from the Edge

of Bangladesh

Archive for DVDs

I will miss…

I will miss the randomness of Bangladesh. The things you come across that just make you laugh. Like DVD reviews. Tony bought a DVD yesterday, 6 movies on 1 disk. On the back of these 6-in-1 sets is always a short review of each movie. Here’s a sample of the review from Knife Edge (not the movie he bought the DVD for):

‘This is probably one of the worst movies ever made, the one who directed this should never ever been allowed to make another movie , the cast is crap the acting is even more crap and the story is so old and chewed out about 250 times before….’

And so it goes on, until it ends with ‘Don’t spend your money on this crap’.

That’s what is written on the back of the DVD box. Complete with spelling and grammar mistakes. Where do they get these reviews from? Do they get copied and pasted off movie review websites? Ones with really poor attention to spelling and grammar? Or do people type this out themselves manually, hence the bad language? Clearly no one cares what the review itself says.

And some of the these on-the-back-of-the-case reviews aren’t the complete god-knows-from-where review, but end mid sentence as the text box allocated for each movie review is only so big. Another movie in this 6 in 1 (Under the mountain – has anyone heard of these movies?) has a review that trails of with ‘Guided by the mysterious Mr Jones and with’. End of review.

I will miss my easy access to pirated DVDs, I won’t miss the game of chance in the quality of purchased DVDs (yesterdays copy was of particular bad viewing quality, and not watchable), and I will miss the reviews that just make me laugh and wonder at the process that gets them onto the back of DVDs here.



I had planned to travel to Dhaka on Thursday night, to spend Friday around a pool somewhere drinking wine, before heading off to a VSO’s Quarterly Strategic Focus Group meeting in Sirajganj (north west of Dhaka). I won’t get started on the VSO SFG, and just how the meeting played out last time I attended it in the CHT… needless to the benefits of the SFG do not make up for the 2 days travel each way from Rangamati to attend. But it’s too early in the morning for my annoyance levels to rise so high, so I’m going to stop thinking about it now.

Ok. Where was I? Right, travel to Dhaka on the 19th. Yesterday we got an email from VSO ‘forbidding’ us to travel anywhere around the country on the 18th, 19th or 20th. The verdict for a trial of the assassination of the independence hero and ‘founding father’ of Bangladesh, “Bangabandhu’ Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, is due on Thursday. This can be considered the trail of the decade. Actually, it probably could be considered the trial of Bangladesh. Considering he was assassinated in 1975, and the trial has only just recently made it to the Supreme Court, goes some way to demonstrate the course of justice isn’t always straight in Bangladesh. Check me out, I’ve been reading the news….

So whatever the verdict, it stands to reason that some people are going to be unhappy, and VSO are being their usual over-cautious selves and advising against travel incase this verdict puts Dhaka (Bangladesh?) into some kind of a melt down. I don’t really know what exactly they are concerned will happen, and I really don’t think I’d be in any particular danger, but just the merest possibility that my journey to Dhaka could be made any longer or more inconvenient, is enough to for me change my plans. Will travel tomorrow night, and spend a few days in the office and go to the doctor again etc.

Obviously this is all to ensure that I get a weekend in Dhaka that involves a pool and alcohol. With the right people. VSO volunteers can be an odd bunch, and one has to plan carefully to pick the right weekend to spend time with the right people. One needs to hook up with other volunteers who also put a pool and alcohol on the top of their list of things to do, otherwise the company can be a bit … um… random, and quite honestly, I’d prefer to stay here in Rangamati. I hardly want to spend my weekend hanging out in the VSO induction flat (potentially the world’s most depressing flat), and Dhaka isn’t exactly  in my Top 10 Favourite Cities, so there has to be a reason for me go.

Reasons to go to Dhaka:

1. ‘Escape’ Bangladesh in an expat club.

2. Hang out with cool people*

3. Buy more DVDs.

4. There isn’t a Reason Number 4.

* Note to self: Find more cool people to hang out with in Dhaka.

P.S. Does anyone know if non-members can get away with swimming at the Nordic club? Prefer it to the Bagha, but officially non-members aren’t allowed to swim. I could always try to get away with it, but don’t fancy the humiliation of being asked to vacate out of the members-only-pool. I’ve met the manager-type-woman, and she doesn’t seem very subtle.


I’m not lost. But I have developed a mild addition to it.

Last weekend I went to Chittagong for the day. First stop Pizza Hut. I don’t even really like Pizza Hut and haven’t been inside one in like forever (15 years maybe?). But its that little bit of ‘home’ so a must in any major city here.

Second stop, Aarong. Which is the FabIndia of Bangladesh. Wonderful shop for house-y things, clothes, shoes etc. And it’s all fair trade and run by the worlds biggest NGO, Brac. Guilt free shopping. What more could a girl ask for.

Third stop, DVD shop. Was looking for season 4 of the Sopranos, but alas no dice. Damn. So picked up season 1 and 2 of Lost. The great thing about not having been a major TV watcher for the last 10 years is that I have a massive back catalogue of good TV series I haven’t seen ANY episodes of. So I can start at the very beginning, and watch to my hearts content.

But Lost has proved a bit addictive. I have finished season 1 and am half way through season 2. In a week and a half. Oops.

And why, if people KNOW there are bad people and monsters in the jungle, do you STILL wonder around on their own? Why? WHY? I guess there wouldn’t be much of a story if they didn’t.

Before I went to Chittagong, it rained, alot. There was a serious amount of water around. Photo below taking from moving bus, so excuse quality.


This is not a lake or river. Just excess water.


The joy of Bangladeshi DVDs

They’re like a box of chocolates…

But they are cheap, you can get 1 DVD with 6 movies on it for about 100 taka (about £1). So I know I can’t complain toooo much. 


– Sometimes they just don’t play at all.

– Sometimes the quality is so bad that I can’t really make out facial expressions or what’s in the background of a scene. 

– Sometimes it’s not possible to remove the English subtitles. Which wouldn’t be so bad if the subtitles actually followed the script. Who writes these things? Wow. ‘I understand’ becomes ‘I don’t understand’. ‘I know how you feel’ becomes ‘Sally Field’ (honestly). And it’s physically impossible for me NOT to read the subtitles if they are in English. I can’t drag my eyes away from them. I thought before I came out here that I could lend some English DVDs to people here who want to improve their English, and they could read the subtitles and listen to the words. What a great way to learn. Ja, no. Not a good idea. Who knows what the result of that English lesson would be.

– Sometimes there is nothing ‘sub’ about the subtitles. They are literally ACROSS the screen. And obviously with the above described usefulness and irritation factor. 

– Sometimes, and this is my person favourite, the ‘subtitles’ are a mixture of subtitles AND the director’s commentary. Which goes something like this: ‘Yes, Sally Fields, it doesn’t seem fair when what I wanted to do with this scene is use the flat light from the snow to really emphasise the depression of the main character tell Jimmy I’ll see him there.’ 

And you know what, despite any (or all) of the above affecting a DVD, I’ll still watch it.

DVDs are certainly my little escape here. It can be tough going here. Just getting through the day can be very tiring and draining. Don’t underestimate the toll that trying to understand people around you, and trying to make yourself understood, can take on you. Words have to be chosen carefully, said slowly and preferably aided with some hand gestures/body language/charades. There is also the intense interest in just about everything you do (I slipped *always* and almost feel outside my neighbour’s house yesterday. Today someone told me they heard that I almost fell yesterday. So my almost-falls are as big news as my actual-falls). And as someone who values/loves/needs her privacy and ‘me’ time, it’s hard. A little escapism can go a long way here. 

And no, I’m not complaining (again) about being here. If I could go back in time and have the chance to re-make the decision to come to Bangladesh, I’d make the same decision.