My time in Khulna is rapidly coming to an end. After too much time sitting in cars traveling to and from the field, sitting in rickshaws to go to and from lunch, and lately sitting inside the hotel room working, I am seriously under-exercised and keen to get outdoors for a walk. It is a good opportunity to see Khulna from a different angle and I take photographs of whatever catches my eye.
|leftover Durga Puja rig|
Taking pix, by the way, is not as easy as it sounds ~ every time I stop to take a photo, so does half of Khulna, either to stare at me, to try get into the picture, or both. I should be used to the staring by now, but it never ceases to amaze me how I (or rather my white skin) can be such an attraction. Some people pluck up enough courage to ask me "What is your country", which is the most common question I get asked in the hotel elevator, at breakfast, in the shops and whenever we stop for cha.
Today at lunch a veiled woman comes over to our table and starts whispering in my host's ear without taking her eyes of me. "What is her country? Why is she eating Bangali food? Bengali food is too spicy for her. Why are you doing this to her?" My host politely responds that he is not twisting my arm; that I actually like spicy food and asks if she has any 'real' questions, which apparently she does not. Eventually she retreats. Hilarity all around..
We have been discussing our impending trip back to Dhaka and you may recall that I've sworn off buses. Whilst in Dhaka I am told that going by boat between Khulna and Dhaka is a very pleasant way to travel, but it turns out passage on the (big) boat requires booking weeks in advance and conditions on smaller boats are not up to par. A train is my next suggestion, but it turns out that the sleeper cars have all gone to serve the international train to India and the only option is an upright seat for the 12-14 hrs overnight journey. It's also suggested that I chain my luggage to myself in case I dose off, neither of which sound too appealing.
My host comes up with a new alternative: a flight between Khulna and Dhaka. Flights were out of order for the last month, but apparently they are back up (so to speak). It's only a 45-minute hop and although quite a bit more expensive, it beats every other mode of transport described to me so far! Our tickets are purchased and delivered to my room in miraculously fast turnaround time ~ nothing happens in a hurry in Bangladesh. There does turn out to be one small catch. The flight doesn't leave from Khulna itself and we will have to travel to another town by ~ you got it ~ bus!