August 6, 2010 Leave a comment
If you ever visit Bangladesh, there are a few things you should know:
When you go to a restaurant outside of Dhaka, you often have two choices: water or 7up. If you are in Dhaka, Pepsi—or in a very rare occasion—Diet Pepsi might be available. They will also ask you if you want your water or 7up “normal or cold.” The drinks, including 7up, are often room temperature. Once you realize that 7up is all you can get, you will start to love 7up. You will rejoice when you find out the restaurant sells cold 7up. If you find a diet coke, it is a rare occasion. My advice is to buy all of them.
Dhaka loves roundabouts. These are the circular traffic patterns used instead of four way stops. Keep in mind that the traffic lights probably mean nothing (there are a few intersections where people pay attention to them, but there seems to be no rhyme or reason why). If you need to turn, your driver will just dodge traffic around the roundabout. Sometimes a policeman with a long, skinny stick directs traffic and beats cars.
It is not always easy to find chocolate bars or cookies. If you go to a store and they sell Doreos that look on the package like Oreos, do not buy them. I repeat DO NOT BUY THEM. They are not good. In fact, when we played card games the loser had to eat a Doreo. Hence Tim Delaney’s new nickname “Doreo Delaney.”
Everyone in Bangladesh wants you to sit down. If you say that you would like to stand, they will take this to mean that you just don’t like the chair they have brought. One or more people will then go get more chairs for you to choose from—sometimes it is the exact same chair you said you didn’t want to sit in. No matter. They want you to sit. My advice is to just sit the first time you are asked.
Bangladeshis love you to eat. No matter how much you have eaten, they always believe you are holding out on them when you say you are full. They just know that you can fit a few more bites of rice into your stomach. They will continue to offer food to you until you leave.
Drinking hot tea in 100 degree weather seems crazy, but it is what you do in Bangladesh. Our group adapted quickly and also began drinking tea in all kinds of weather. Somehow, it does not make you hotter. Also, Bangladesh people love sugar. At least one teaspoon of sugar is put into each small cup of tea. You won’t find artificial sweetener anywhere in the country. Don’t worry, though, because it tastes great. We’ve gotten used to having tea after every meal. I wonder who will serve me tea after lunch and dinner in the states?
Speaking of sugar. Bangladesh has the most wonderful sweets. Make sure you try the blackberries. The name is deceiving. There are no berries involved. It is a soft oval doughnut (no hole) submerged in a krispy kreme-like glaze. It is heavenly.
It is a good idea to pack snacks. You eat when you get up, 2 p.m. and 8 or 9 p.m. We also quickly adapted to this schedule. Although it is so hot, you don’t want to eat anyway.
If you absolutely need American food, hit up American Burger (several locations) or Coffee World (in Bhanani–they also serve pizza). Coffee World grinds the beans and makes a plethora of coffee drinks, including just plain coffee.
Bangladeshi head nods
There is a hole language of head nods that you need to know: yes, no, maybe, thank you, etc. Our interpreter Younus was nice enough to demonstrate each of these nods. Lynne Ausman is posting the photos and an explanation. Make sure you check out her blog.