My first day back in Dhaka was bittersweet. It had its major ups and downs. While I was at first so excited by the return to modern conveniences of electricity and air-conditioning, the modern inconvenience of traffic was enough to make me miss the village. Traffic was awful – the worst I’ve seen so far. I decided to join Sam on a trip down to New Market, and it took us about four hours, one CNG, two rickshaws, and a considerable amount of walking to get there. The traffic, more than anything, makes this city feel unlivable. Fortunately, after I left the market, the day took a positive turn.
Tania had invited me to join her family for Iftar and then diner and drinks at the American Recreation Association, or the American Club as its known (an ex-pat members club for US Citizens). After a shorter bout with traffic, I made it to Tania’s house and had a very nice Iftar (especially nice because I didn’t have to worry about getting sick after), and some interesting conversation with her parents. Then, Tania and I went to the American Club, which I can only describe as a paradise of simplicity. There is nothing fancy about the atmosphere of the club, but everything just feels right and familiar. The grounds are clean and kempt, and remind me of a typical Florida country club. The A/C is pumped refreshingly high blast. And the menu is dominated by burgers and beers.
Half way through my dinner my only thought was - I could live right here. Some of Tania’s friends came, as well, and we had some interesting conversations about Bangladeshi culture and politics. When we left, one of her friends dropped me off at the Westin to get a taxi, and who did I see but my rickshaw driver, Ali. And luckily, his friend with the phone that he used to call me happened to be a yellow cab driver. Sometimes Dhaka feels like a small, friendly city….