Blackout Bangladesh

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Kelsey and I in our first CNG ride

It is hartal season. We have another week of political strikes ahead of us. Meaning as foreigners, we try to stay inside at night and avoid angry-looking crowds. No reason to panic, but most of Dhaka shuts down when a hartal is called by the opposition party. As a side benefit, there’s less traffic.

On top of the general sluggishness brought on by the strikes, the entire Bangladeshi national power grid went down this week. Rolling blackouts are normal, but a country of 155 million people lost electricity for about a day. Remarkable. We spent our time filling in our Bangla language children’s books by flashlights and headlamps. During the evening, the gentlemen Fulbrighters heroically ventured into the absolute darkness to retrieve food from “American Burger”, a friendly sounding establishment. I was sick the following morning. Foodborne illness is a rite of passage here, so I’ll consider myself culturally immersed.

We’ve started the first full week of Bangla. I still struggle to effectively communicate anything past my name and hometown, but I can write and recite the alphabet script. I can read. Moving on up!

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Meg studying in the dark.

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Food vocabulary: Learn the important stuff first.

The insanity that is Gulshan Circle.

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We made our way to the American Club, a bizarre little getaway for ex-pats. With a gym! I miss exercise.

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Shooting some hoops

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Yoni played his first game of pool at the club. We’re so proud.

It is difficult to put into words how uncontrolled, chaotic, terrifying, and oddly thrilling a CNG ride can be. It’s a bit like playing an arcade game- dodging random objects that are thrown in your direction, sharp turns, the occasional squeeze between two buses.

CNG: Compressed Natural Gas

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Scattered snaps I took from the CNG as we tumbled home from Banani:

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A game we play in the garage of our building. It’s a bit like pool but one uses their fingers to flick tiny pucks into the pockets. IMG_4235

Rasel, our house manager, taking care of business with the beloved mosquito zapper.

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Finally, another cow for the collection.

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More to come. Love, Pauline

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