Home > Kev's Blog > 9-Apr-2013 An easy day in Dhaka

9-Apr-2013 An easy day in Dhaka

Tuesday 9 April 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

Chris, Sheila and the kids are going to Thailand & Burma today at 11am and I am staying on at the apartment so I had a hundred questions about the driver, the air con, locking the doors, phone numbers etc etc. I spent a bit of time reading some of their very interesting books (Sheila is doing a phd in public health so I guess some of the books are hers but they are both into education so who knows) – feels like heaven anyway as I love non-fiction books with a passion.



I then walked out to the coffee shop – it feels like days since I was last by myself. In fact its been just 2 weeks since I left home, but it feels literally like 2 months since I caught the ferry to the airport. I guess you go to so many places and see so many new things and your mind is constantly ON. That’s why today I thought I would just go slowly.

I then walked to Gulshan-2 and had a look at the shops and had a juice out. I had a look at Jatra a good handicraft type shop.

I was back home by 5pm and skyped with Dawn. Watched some BBC World News. Had some leftover rice & dahl, did some reading and went to bed at 1030pm.

I have not written much about beggars here or in India. They are all over and everywhere constantly hassling me. Sometimes politely,  sometimes funny, sometimes more aggressive. I have been torn, over the years, as to how to deal with them. Politely say no? Ignore them completely? Give the most seemingly needy some money? Firmly ask them to leave me alone? Try to explain why I WASN’T giving them money? In the end I still can’t decide which approach is best and do all of the above at various times. I usually prefer to just give very small amounts, coins etc to either the oldest or most handicapped beggars as whether they are working for someone or not they clearly have the most miserable lives.

One of the surprising things was the security setup here. The apartment is in like a diplomatic enclave, and there are a lot of embassies,  foreign schools etc here.  The main entrance to the enclave is on the UN Road where there is a boom gate and a bunch of armed guards. I guess they keep out anyone suspicious. I have seen them hitting auto-rickshaws with big sticks if they are not doing what they say. They are trying to keep out rickshaw wallahs in traditional lunghis (all the foreigners don’t care what they wear). Lights are mandatory at night also on a rickshaw in this area.

Yesterday a car got burnt out round the corner, I think these torchings are quite common. We also saw some people pushing a torched car (after it was put out).

Our day trip to see river dolphins on Thursday has been cancelled due to another hartal. I bought a bus ticket to Kolkata for Saturday as all these hartals are just so unpredictable and make planning very hard.

Sheila & Chris are hooked into sms from the American Embassy and emails from work about the political situation. Here is an email I got from Sheila as she was about to fly out :

Security Alert for all HKI Bangladesh Staff

Current Situations:

The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has called for a 36 hour nationwide hartal (strike/shutdown) starting from Tuesday, April 9, 2013 6:00 a.m. until Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 6:00 p.m.
10 injured in Narayangaj clashes
Clashes between the strikers and law keepers have left at least 10 people, including two journalists, injured in Narayanganj as the opposition-sponsored 36-hour strike took effect.
Police and witnesses said BNP and its youth front brought out a procession from Narayanganj’s Kumudini Welfare Trust around 6am. When police tried to stop them, pitched battles erupted.
BNP-police clash at Cox’s Bazar
Agitated activists of the main opposition BNP’s Cox’s Bazar unit on Monday night clashed with the police hours after its Joint Secretary General Salahuddin Ahmed was arrested in Dhaka.

The local BNP unit has also called a shutdown for Thursday in the district following a 36-hour nationwide BNP strike starting on Tuesday.Police arrested former Cox’s Bazar MP Salahuddin Ahmed at around 9:30pm from Dhaka’s Gulshan.
BNP’s volunteer wing Swechchasebak Dal has also called a general strike at the port city of Chittagong for Thursday demanding the release of BNP Vice-Chairman Abdullah Al Noman.
After getting the news of his arrest, local leaders and activists of the opposition brought out protest processions at Chakoria and Pekua at around 10:30pm and vandalised at least 20 vehicles.
Police said shots were fired and crude bombs were also detonated at the time leaving four people including two policemen injured.

Upcoming Days:
Islami Chhatra Shibir has called a nationwide whole-day general strike on Thursday 11 April demanding release of its President Delwar Hussen.
The Jamaat-e-Islami student front is also opposed to sending Delwar Hussen on police remand for questioning.

Hefajat-E- Islam announces:
Hefajat also announced to hold rallies at different parts of the country, including Sylhet, Khulna, Chittagong, Rajshahi, Mymensingh, Faridpur, Brahmanbaria, Barisal and Bogra from April 11 to April 30 to force the government to meet its demands.

It seems full week of hartal and it may continue from next week also after 14th April.

Instruction during hartal:

A hartal is a mass protest, and can involve a total shutdown of the country. It is a recognized political method for articulating any political demand. Hartals can turn violent if the population, or political groups, enforce the shut down. Violence can also occur the evening/night before a hartal. We advise all HKI Staff to exercise caution and avoid unnecessary travel throughout the country.

All Staff are advised to exercise caution and minimize movement and exposure even within the enclave during a hartal. Employees outside of Dhaka are also take additional precautions.
Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. You should avoid areas of demonstrations, and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations. Remain aware of your surroundings, including local events; and monitor local news stations for updates.

1.    Please tune to your local media for information and avoid all area covered rally, meeting and be safe.

2.    Keep  your ID card with you always while coming or leaving to office.

3.    Don’t wait outside 1 place for long time

4.    Better not to use Auto rickshaw (CNG) during hartal, if needs use without locking door.

5.    Use cycle rickshaw if needs to move emergency or emergency vehicle.

6.    Don’t use HKI or rented car.

7.    Don’t move to the field.(depends)

8.    Don’t travel to the field by steamer/ launch/ bikes.

9.    Make sure that your official movement is approved by your supervisor.

Please monitor the local media for updates.

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