Saturday, March 3, 2012

Bangladesh...First Impressions

DC to Dubai - 13 hours
Layover in Dubai - 5 hours
Dubai to Dhaka - 5 hours
Afternoon at the pool - Priceless

So I arrived in Bangladesh yesterday morning after an uneventful but ridiculously long flight. You always get a little idea about a country from the airplane ride in. There were many Bangladeshis, I would guess workers returning home from the Gulf, on the flight. There was a very entertaining lack of understanding on boarding the plane by zone number - I had to push my way through hundreds of people crowded tightly at the entrance door, seating assignments - many people just got on the plane and sat anywhere so there was some musical chairs going on for a while, and number of bags allowed as carry on - many had a suitcase, a brief case/duffle bag, and at least 4 huge duty free bags.

The flight itself was relatively calm, but when the announcement that we were starting our descent was made a number of people got up took their luggage out of the overhead compartments and lined it up in the aisle. A particular gentleman next to me was told no less than 8 times by a number of different flight attendants to return his luggage to the overhead bin and he would just nod, smile and give the thumbs up, and then sit down. Finally the flight attendant returned his luggage for him. The moment those wheels touched the tarmac half the plane was up and going for their luggage, the flight attendants were yelling for people to sit, but it was futile. I just sat and laughed to myself and thought, this place is going to be fun!

It took about an hour to get through the visa check line ("line" is a strong word, maybe more like visa check blob) I waited another hour for my luggage. I have never seen so much luggage come off of one plane. Hundreds and hundreds of cardboard boxes and packed grain sacks all taped or tied up with the owners address written in thick black sharpie. I stood there for an hour, perched atop a luggage cart since the throngs of people were crowded nearly 6 deep as close to the luggage carousel as they could possibly be without falling on it, and watched and waited and got very nervous...Finally the doors to the carousel closed and the system shut down and I was very sad, but then the remaining crowds parted and I saw my orange suitcase. It was The. Very. Last. Suitcase. to be unloaded. Seriously?!

I'm now happily settled into my very nice hotel, have had some delicious food already and had the chance to spend a few hours on the roof by the pool this afternoon (Friday and Saturday are the weekend here). I slept well last night, so fingers crossed that happens again and I am well rested for going to the office tomorrow.

I'll hopefully have the chance to take some pictures soon and I'll post more on here about Bangladesh and the work I am doing soon.

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