When I came back from my winter holiday travels, I was quite saddened to find that in my absence, someone had hacked the beautiful tree that used to envelope half of my balcony. It was so lovely sitting on my balcony, surrounded by green, shaded from direct sunlight. What I also quickly realized while looking through the new sun induced glare was that I had and an incredibly breathtaking view of the electrical box and wiring directly outside of my balcony. Really, the mess that is Bangladeshi wiring is not my preferred view. I also noticed that behind the mess of wires and poles and metal was a new sign- advertising that the house across the street was soon to become a demolition and then construction zone. Thrilling, really.
But nothing prepared me for the fact that, in addition to the daylight heinousness, my new neighbors- the construction company- insured that I would not be pining after the view of their beautiful signage after the sun set. In fact, there are Florissant bulbs behind the sign that illuminate it straight into my bedroom. And I had already been robbed of my beautiful tree that would have somewhat protected me.
After about a week of not fully using my balcony in the finally beautiful weather (defined as not sweating the minute you walk outside) due to the harsh direct sunlight and less than appealing view, I decided to take action. Really, I'm a woman of means. I can handle this. So, despite my original idea of not further investing in the apartment I will vacate in five months, I decided to take a stroll down to my local nursery. What constitutes a nursery here is a several different individuals with a bunch of plants lined up in a vacant lot. Each man vies for your business as you walk by. My local nursery is just a few blocks away from my apartment, directly across the street from the Embassy of the State of Palestine.
I had my eyes searching for large bushy plants that could successfully block my view and the sunlight (not to mention give me a bit of privacy on my balcony). I saw some potential candidates and took a non-committal stroll to the back of the lot to investigate. When I reached the back, I saw a construction zone in the adjacent lot. Here, women in cotton saris are using small pick hammers to break bricks into gravel to be used in the construction. Bangladesh is short on dirt and gravel so they either 1) import it or 2) make bricks from the mud and then have women (yes, this is a woman's job) bust the bricks into gravel. (Look at the pile in the background of the photo. The pick can be seen in the hand of the woman in the foreground.)
After being sufficiently distracted by the women and bricks, I went back to picking out and bartering for plants. I found a nice ficus and a couple of flowering plants (whose name I've already forgotten) for the bargain (yet still inflated due to my white skin, I'm sure) price of approximately sixty dollars. And of course, for an additional seventy-five cents, the plants were delivered to the exact place on my balcony that pleases me most. And -voila- I once again have a balcony I can truly enjoy!