Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Dhaka Belly

Delhi Belly is a notoriously persistant part of many traveller's visit to India. It's kind of a hazing to weed out the pansies who retreat to the international hotel cafes when the going gets tough. Today, I was initiated in the phenomena of Dhaka Belly as my breakfast, lunch and dinner went out of me first thing this morning. Wobbly and cranky, I made my way to a sprawling health complex with some 20 buildings all identical in cement and blue signs in Bengali. After 45 minutes--a confused round of visits up many flights of stairs to a medical training centre, nutrition building and population centre--I finally stumbled upon the right building, an hour late. After some more meetings I retreated to the leafy Dutch Club. Ex-patriots honed their backhand on clay courts a few feet from where I snored in the moth ball/insecticide scented room (a 2 foot tall can of bug repellent adorns the bedroom sidetable).

With difficulty I roused myself to meet some NGO workers for dinner. The ex-pats--American, British, and Pakistani--drove to comparatively glamourous Banani, which, as one Fulbrighter said, is the Meat Packing district of Dhaka. We ate (or they did, I picked at 1 piece of butter naan before stopping, just. in. time). A bottle of Smirnoff they'd brought sat beside the kebabs and chaat--only foriegners are allowed to drink, so restaurants don't sell booze but permit byob.

According to Wiki Travel: "There really is nothing to do in the city. In all due seriousness, all outdoor recreation for the locals exist in the form of various fast-food joints and shopping for clothing. The locals pass time by eating out, shopping for new clothes and mostly chit-chatting with one another"

Between a discussion of sex workers and microcredit schemes, the ex-pats chit-chatted about the week's fetes at the American Club and Raddison. "We go out every night."


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