Dhaka has got to be the craziest city I have ever been to; I didn’t think anywhere could top Delhi or Hanoi but Dhaka wins hands down.
There are between 16 and 20 million people living in Dhaka and, boy, can you tell! The sheer amount of traffic and people on the roads is mind-blowing – I have spent a significant amount of time over the last week sat in a jam, hemmed in all sides by CNGs, buses and rickshaws, horns blaring every time there is even the slightest chance of inching forwards.
The noise doesn’t stop until late into the night; I often fall asleep to the ringing of rickshaws bells, to the sound of people spitting in the street, and of life just outside the window. In the morning, before it’s even really light, I wake to the sound of the call to prayer piercing the pre-dawn peace.
But for all the insanity, Dhaka also has to be one of the friendliest places I have had the pleasure to visit. Everyone I have met has been so warm and hospitable; I think my rudimentary Bangla is helping but I also think that it’s just how the Bangladeshi people are. We’ve had the opportunity to get out and about a bit over the past couple of days and have been the subject of much curiosity! I spent well over an hour yesterday surrounded by small children, insisting on holding my hand and giving me kisses, as well as being asked nearly constantly to be in photographs. It’s exhausting but great fun.
Unfortunately, another hortal is starting tomorrow, which will most likely delay our departure to the community but I hope it will pass peacefully and without incident. After an intense week of training, we all want to get up to the village and start work on our project – fingers crossed, we will be up in Pairabondh in the next few days.