Thursday, July 2, 2009

Dhaka Commute

I was about to compose the 'food' post when my stomach was suddenly hit with something funky and the thought of food was less than appealing. It appears I've gotten these stomach cramps about every 1.5 weeks here but so long as that's the worse of it- I'm thankful.

Instead, I thought I'd post a video of my rickshaw ride commute from the Grand Prince Hotel to the Grameen Bank Bhaban (Main Office). It takes about 8 minutes, costs 8-12 taka (~14 cents) and greatly reduces the amount of attention I receive if I walked on the street. Last evening, after walking back in the rain (and get somewhat mud-splattered in the process), I had a member of group of (gypsy?) ladies grab my arm and not let go for a good 15 meters, asking for money. Heartless as it sounds, I don't like giving to beggars, especially in adult ones in the city. Numerous people have told me many of the beggars are drug addicts and if you want to give anything- give or buy them food. A coworker also told me about how recently a syndicate was arrested to using children to beg, often maiming or defacing them. (think 'Slumdog Millionaire'). A child with acid burns or missing limbs can earn anywhere from 3000-4000 taka a day, he said. Same with urban adult disabled individuals- you don't know if someone made them that way or preys on the funds they earn. Another coworker told me it's different in the village- a disabled person is not cared for by their family and truly is on their own. I go back and forth between feeling guilty, heartless and truly believing that investing in other infrastructure will do more than handouts to alleviate the poverty seen everyday.

Side note: You know you've been in Bangladesh long enough when your rickshaw driver drives into oncoming traffic (including massive buses) and you don't even flinch. The rickshaw driver here was more law-abiding than most at the start but later we realized it was probably because he didn't know where he was going... 

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