Friday, April 17, 2009

Back in Dhaka

Yesterday I got back from the most wonderous vacation in Bhutan. (Yes, everyone make a guess of where it is before you get out your maps.) Bhutan blogging will come once I start getting photos uploaded- I have a little over 1000 to choose from so some level of editing is required.

One of the fabulous parts about vacationing in Bhutan is the direct flight is a little under an hour so virtually no time is lost due to travel and I never even left the time zone. (Compared with my original flight from the US to Bangladesh which was 27 or so hours, starting from LA and has about 13 or 14 hours time difference, depending on daylight savings time- yes, my definition of travel time has be dramatically altered.)

We arrived back around 10:30am still leaving plenty of time for a full Dhaka day. I came home, unloading the dirty clothes from my pack, gave Morshida money for groceries and had her start making cranberry and orange zest macaroons that I had been dreaming about all week. (Really, what is Passover without macaroons?) Then I popped downstairs where my driver had the car waiting (hey, I only have two more months of the princess lifestyle and I plan on living it up to the last second!). I made a quick run to the US commissary (Seriously, I think I have a love affair with that place. Every time a friend asks me where I found a certain food item, I say, “US Comm.”) I dropped off the dry cleaning, a picture frame that needs to be fixed and then told my driver to head to the salon! (Yes, totally princess points here.)

I’ve gotten into the habit of reading in the back of the car. First off, this is one of the joys of not having to drive oneself, and secondly, it deters many of the beggars and street merchants. Currently I’m reading Tales of a Female Nomad and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. It also helps distract me from the horrors that are traffic in Dhaka. (I am so happy to have a safe driver!)

I usually pop around Dhaka in my personal car with A/C and good book bubbled bliss with only the occasional determined rapping of fingers and rasping of “madam” at my window. I look up occasionally to see where we are and then dive back into my book. We got to a right turn (for those of you who don’t drive on the left side of the road, read obnoxious left turn on a busy street with no light and cars inching by bumper to bumper to prevent anyone from trying to turn and blocking up the two adjoining streets) and sat there and waited. Page after page I sat and read, looking up at finding myself in the only barely inches forward. This is so silly! I thought so I went to jump out my door- oh wait! A small green motorized rickshaw (CNG) had pulled up an inch from my door- so I jumped out the other side, jumped over the hood of a car and right into the middle of the bumper-to-bumper traffic. (Hence the need for jumping cars to get anywhere in the gridlock.) And then I started directing traffic, standing with my legs touching the front bumpers of various cars with aggressive drivers. Once my car was through, I waved my driver forward and kept waving one arm towards the turning cars, CNGs and rickshaws while holding an authoritative “stop” hand to the obstinate drivers who started this mess. I stayed until all the waiting vehicles had turned right and vehicles on the other side of the road could once again advance. As I jumped back into my car, which was waiting a few meters ahead, a rickshaw wallah called out enthusiastically to me in English, “Thank you Madam!” I gave him a smile and was quickly off to the salon.

I got a nice head/ shoulder massage with a hot oil hair treatment and a manicure/ pedicure where my nails got buffed to a shine that would make even a new Mercedes Benz blush. Then I walked back home. I took advantage of having electricity at the moment (it goes off about 5-10 times a day) and snuggled into my massage chair.

It is a crazy life I lead: In one day I’m eating breakfast on a beautiful terrace in a magical Himalayan Kingdom and directing traffic in a crowded and dirty developing city! Oh yeah, and don’t forget- it all has to be done with nicely cleaned, shaped and buffed finger and toenails. J

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