Monday, January 12, 2009

Dhaka Duty

The capital of Bangladesh is not a vacation spot. I am in Dhaka on business and the city is too. Apart from the odd roundabout sculpture, its cement apartment buildings, plastic-fronted shops and treeless roads are no nonsense, madam. The predictable South Asian snarl of telephone wires, wildly honking cars, and roadside snack shops remind me of India, as do the pleading children at the car window, but this place seems to be missing it’s mother country’s eccentric charm. Perhaps the crumbling old buildings are south of here in Old Dhaka. I’m staying in comparatively posh Gulshan, where international agencies, embassies, media and newly-armored American hotels are. Luckily, there’s some eccentricity on order at the Dutch Club, a guest house in the shadow of the Italian embassy. Directly outside my sliding doors is a hazy expanse of tennis courts (eccentric? yeah, think of a grassy croquet course on New York’s Lower East Side), safari-style tents and a climbing wall. Beyond the climbing wall is a giant trampoline covered in skinny stray cats. One was screaming during one hour this afternoon—probably in heat. Like the manic dog fights I remember in India, these wailing cats remind me that our pampered pets live better than many people here.


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