First days in Dhaka

Since I last wrote, I’ve flown three quarters of the way around the Earth and have arrived safe and sound in Dhaka, Bangladesh. It’s been a few days now, and because of the hartal earlier in the week, I haven’t been able to get out and do as much as I’d like. Things have thankfully mellowed out and I have a full day of sightseeing ahead of me this weekend. The forced hibernation was really good for me. I got to catch up on sleep, read, meander in my thoughts in a way that I haven’t been able to do in awhile (see last post on relentless logistics!), and enjoy having absolutely nothing to do (which is a glorious feeling in of itself). Since I’ve been stuck up in my room, I’ve only really acclimated to the sounds of Dhaka.
First I can tell you that there is a thunderstorm which seems to come around dawn everyday and sounds just like the ones we have in Brooklyn, second is the call to prayer which sounds nothing like the one I used to hear in Turkey and even less like my mosque alarm clock, next comes the happy chirping birds and the start of the incessant car and CNG tuk-tuk horns because there are very few traffic lights to speak of and it is the easiest way to let people know “I’m here and get out of my way!”, after that the European couple in the room next to mine starts splashing around in the shower, and then I hear hurried flip flops on the terrazzo floor as the people who run this guesthouse lay out breakfast including my nemesis Nescafe, and finally comes the soft rustling of the mosquito net as I step out of bed and get on with it.

I guess I have the some of the preliminary smells down, too….. the hot, wet straw and dirt smell as I open the sliding door of the guest house walk down the street; the perspiration of the rickshaw driver who doesn’t get the benefit of the sunshade under which to hide; the aroma of incredible spices and cooked meat from large, fire lit drums on street corners that tempt me even though I’ve been cautioned by pretty much everyone in my life NEVER to imbibe; then some raw sewage; then a burst of fresh air that tastes so good; then diesel engine exhaust; then Hermes cologne (I’m in a pretty bougie section of town); then I get a whiff of myself (which is Eau du Coleman’s 40% DEET bug spray for the foreseeable future, unfortunately), and then the cycle starts again.
I’ve received so many sweet notes from friends and family curious about my whereabouts, that I felt like I should write something… so while it’s not much to report yet, I wanted you to know I’m here and alive, and jet lagged, but well and smelling and hearing things. More of the other senses soon, I hope.

3 Comments

  • Funny how it’s always in that order as your senses kick in when you’re in new lands. Your ears, then your nose, then your eyes. Unless it’s mexico and you swear you’ve just woken up and seen a Pterodactyl* fly past.

    I’ve got into the habit of recording ambient sounds when I’m travelling. For no other purpose than to just remember. We habitually take photos, so figured its worth a go anyway.

    Al

    PS: *It was a pelican.

    Reply
  • All the sounds and smells you have so beautifully described Sarah, remind me of home, and there’s a sense of incredible warmth is realizing that there is so much beauty in them, and that somebody else sees that as well.

    The familiarity of a word like ‘hartal’ brings a smile to my face.

    I’m really enjoying following your journe. What I am admiring more than ever is how comfortable and at ease you seem is such different surroundings.

    Here’s wishing you many more pleasant experiences on this trip.

    -Sachlene

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