Postcards from the Edge

of Bangladesh

Archive for Weather

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.

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The season of sweat approaches

I’ve just been given some tamarind pods by a colleague. I had no idea what tamarind looked like before today, and I assumed it came only in a glass jar form. I now have 4 large pod things, and am eating one of them as is. Man alive, it’s sour. And almost bubbly it’s so acidic. I’m currently Googling what to do with the rest. Chances are they will linger in my fridge until they change colour, at which point I will throw them out in the middle of the night, so as to not offend anyone.Or I’ll show them to Memory, who will no doubt take over and do something with them for me.

Chances of me actually cooking them (or what ever one does with tamarind) are slim, as it’s getting hotter here now. This means ‘egg and noodles’ season is almost upon me. It’s not super hot yet, the sauna that is Bangladesh is nowhere near cracked up to full blast yet, but it’s in the mail. I’ve been slowly sleeping under less and wearing less (as much ‘less’ as one can wear in Bangladesh). The constant sweating hasn’t started yet, but again its only a matter of time. Annoyingly the dizzy spells have already started making more frequent visits though. Perhaps it’s just the thought of another summer that is too much for me. I’m sure it’s because I’d only mentally prepared for one, but the thought of two summers here is more than I can handle. But as I sit here today, I do wonder how I survived last summer. Some might say I’m being a touch dramatic, but really, for me, it was tough. A new batch of volunteers has arrived, and are suffering with the heat. Already. It’s only the beginning of March. There is oh so much more fun to come people. I don’t envy them, going through their adjustments to their placements, while simultaneously dealing with Bangladesh itself, VSO and the heat. But you know, that’s what we sign up for. We all have to be slightly mad to do this.

By the time I leave here in 6 weeks I’ll be ready to fall in love with the insipid, heat-less and rainy summer that no doubt will present itself in London this year. It’ll be my perfect summer.

It’s official

I need to buy some winter clothes. No warm clothes made it into my backpack when I left London, as I didn’t believe that Bangladesh got cold.

To date, I only own one top with long sleeves. Which is from a Korean garment factory that donates its rejects/off-cuts to the children of Moanoghar. Not many children (or adults) in my size here, to I was gifted one. This top is, under no circumstances, worn outside of my house. It’s one part of my ultra sexy nightwear, the other part being a pair of old salwar bottoms. It’s all just so high fashion here in the little blue house with green shutters next to the mini-hospital on Moanoghar campus, Rangapani, Rangamati (you know, I think if someone sent a letter using that as my address, it would get here. Actually, I think that IS my address…)

So I need a cardigan (or two), to wear with my (daytime) salwar kameezes (never sure what the pural for kameez is). And socks. I need socks. Turns out two pairs of socks aren’t not enough. I am rocking my socks and sandals look every morning in the office, which results in sock hand washing more often than I’d like (my preferred frequency of sock washing by hand is never). For all the times I thought (knew) I looked hideous in the heat and sweat of summer, I think it’s possible that I’ll look even worse in the slight chill of winter. A long, baggy cardigan, worn over a long, baggy, shapeless salwar kameez, teamed with socks and sandals and, if it gets cold enough, a non-matching scarf. My only consolation is that everyone else here looks as badly put together these days. Anything goes.

But despite my wardrobe limitations, I am LOVING winter. Really, it is by far the best of Bangladesh’s 6 seasons. I’m already upset that it is only 2 months long. But autumn and winter together does make 4 months. Which is a great respite from the suffocating heat of summer/every other season here. My energy levels are well up there, I’m even doing a walking tour of Old Dhaka on Friday. I haven’t, in my 7 months here, even ventured into Old Dhaka before. It all just seemed too much like hard work in the heat, sweat and tears (mine) of full blown summer.

I do wonder how much more fruitful my placement would have been, if Bangladesh was this temperature all year round. Really, I’d be able to do five times as much if I didn’t have to suffer through the heat. It’s incapacitating, suffocating and revolting. I’m only signed up for a year here with VSO, so I’ll be skipping outta here at the end of April. Which itself will already be hot, but I’ll be escaping before it gets unbelievably, scratch your own eyes out, hot. I don’t think I could face another summer here.

So in the mean time, I’ll be loving every minute of winter. As soon as I get some warm clothes.

Last night, for the first time…

… I slept without my fan on.

This is exciting news, as I am now getting a little chilly at night with it on. Chilly…aka cold! It’s been a long 7.5 months during which I had ceased to remember that there was such a sensation as cold. God it’s nice.

The night before last (prior to inaugural night sans fan), I got up in the middle of the night to look for a jumper to put on. Clearly I had forgotten where I was. A jumper? I don’t own one here. Not even one. I own nothing with long sleeves.

The weather has now settled down nicely into what I would liken to a Cape Town summer. Hot during the day, 30+ degrees, but a nice dry heat. And at night, chilly enough to warrant the need for  a cardi(gan) or a pash(mina). I don’t know if this is officially winter now, or if it gets even (shock, horror) colder. Either way, I likey. I likey a lot.

Seasons

Yesterday I had some bad news. I discovered that this season we are currently in is not autumn and it isn’t going to be getting much cooler any time soon.

Bangladesh has 6 seasons: 1) spring 2) summer 3) rainy/monsoon 4) the one we are currently in, which no one has been able to translate into English for me yet  5) autumn and 6) winter. This season (4) is the one where I thought it would be getting cooler. But this is a hot season I am now told (strongly beginning to believe they ALL are). Only by October (autumn I think) will just the nights start to get cooler (I’ve been told in October, a night will be hot for 1/2 the night, and other other half will be cold…) and then oooonly by November/December will the days be cooler. I’ve been labouring under a misapprehension thinking that it will be getting cooler any day now. This is quite a blow.

And I discovered a nasty little Bangladeshi rule about holidays. Here, the weekend is Friday and Saturday. If one was to take leave on a Thursday and the subsequent Sunday (i.e. on either side of the weekend), the Friday and Saturday are counted as leave days. So taking leave on a Thursday and Sunday counts as 4 days of leave. This is standard government practice and most other organisations also adopt this rule. What is THAT about? Terribly unfair I say. Not that anyone in my organisation actually counts/notices the number of days someone is not in the office. But still.