We have been in Dhaka, Bangladesh almost 10 days now, but this is my first post since we arrived. Sorry for the long hiatus.
It was not intentional. It took a while to get to know the place and getting connected to the Internet took some time. Despite the long 33- hour journey (18 hours of flying time), and traveling with two kids, we managed to do quite well. We were received by the expeditor from the U.S. Embassy who took care of immigration and customs in no time and we were on our way to our new home.
You always wonder what you will see the first time you come outside of the airport. For me it was the hot, humid weather with pleasant green surroundings across from the parking area. Once we were on the main street, it seemed we were rushed into traffic in the middle of a bustling central city, although the airport is at least 15 miles from the central city. The streets are filled with vehicles and people. Some photos I took will give you some idea of what the traffic was like. Click HERE. The busy streets seemed busier with the signs and posters on vehicles and both sides of the street in some sections. Although there were no speed limit signs that I could see, you can hardly go more than 30-40 miles/hr just because it is not possible to do so.
Once you enter the northern suburb, Gulshan or the Banani area, you can see some spectacular high rise buildings. From the type of cars, to shopping areas and the buildings around Gulshan, you could sense that this suburb is one of the high income areas of the city. Despite the income in these areas, the infrastructure network - the roads, pavements, etc - is very poor. This may be due to heavy down pours but also poor maintenance. So if you bring a new car to Dhaka City, you have to forget about alignment and wheel balance the first few days in the city. Potholes in the northern United States, like Detroit, will seem like heaven to Dhaka's city dwellers. If think you are a good driver, try your driving skills in Dhaka. It took me a while to realize if we were supposed to be driving on the left or right side of the road because we were driving on both sides! I'm not kidding. I will send you video clip next week.
Next week, I will begin teaching in the Masters of Development Studies Program at BRAC University. I was asked to teach Development Informatics. This course is designed to provide Information technology-based knowledge and skills for economic development and social emancipation. GIS fits quite well within the scope of the course. The first few weeks will involve training and conceptualization of GIS as a development tool.
The holy month of Ramadan started yesterday. Bangladesh is predominantly a Muslim country. About 88 percent of the population is Muslim. During this month the mood of the city changes dramatically. I will write about the Ramadan experience and more soon. Stay tuned...