Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Never a Dull Moment

Before I am on my way to catch the flight from Khulna to Dhaka I have some bills to settle, so off  I go to the ATM to withdraw funds. There are two ATMs across from the hotel and I've used one consistently and without any hitches. But that particular ATM is in disrepair so I cross the street ~ under guard  ~ to visit the other ATM as it has been known to happen that one is immediately relieved of one's bag upon exiting an ATM.  

I pop in my bank card and wait for the cash to come out. Nothing ... A short time later a message flashes on the screen that my ATM card has been retained. Bugger, bugger, bugger (polite words I did not use in the heat of the moment...). What am I going to do... I have no intention on leaving Khulna without my card! We call the number on the screen and the person on the other side of the line says they will send the card back to my bank o/s and I can retrieve it from there. It may be protocol but it isn't the answer I want to hear. 

The word 'foreigner' is audible several times in the Bangla conversation and eventually we are told to come to the branch office. As we travel there my host gets busy on the phone pulling strings in Dhaka who in turn can pressure the local branch manager into getting the card back into my hands. After writing a letter to the branch manager explaining what happened and requesting my card back, two hours in his office, and a cup of cha later, I dance out of his office bank card in hand. Somehow I don't think protocol could have been bent quite the same way in a developed economy.

On we go to the post office to post a parcel of things I don't want to schlep halfway around the world with me ~ a whole other experience I am less than prepared for. I've repeated asked if the post office sells boxes, only to be told there's no such thing in a Bangla PO and as a result it has taken several days to get my hands a box for my shipment. When we get to the PO we are told that we cannot use the box my stuff is in (all taped up, addressed et al) and that we need to use one of their boxes!  Oh my, they do have them and not only that, they insist that we buy one of their and use it. My box is slit open and 100 taka later one of their boxes arrives. But the size is all wrong and I explain it needs to be bigger. Another box arrives ~ still entirely the wrong size. They start looking around for a used box and this is when I decide to object. What is wrong with my own used box?? Nothing as it turns out, but permission needs to be obtained from the PO mistress to use my own box. We all troop into her office and eventually permission is granted. Hallelujah, even if the box purchase money is not returned. Apparently once you give money to a government official it, on priciple, never gets returned

weighing my package
After copious amounts of paperwork and a hundred stamps being glued to the box, the package is finally ready for shipment. Getting a receipt and some sort of tracking number (which may or may not mean a thing) takes a mere 15 minutes, after which I am more than ready to leave Khulna. After a day like this a two-hour bumpy bus ride and delayed flight are hardly worth mentioning. Safely arrive in Dhaka for my last two days in Bangladesh where I have some interesting meetings and social experiences..

Expect no or much less exciting blogs over the next week or so until I hit Peru for an entirely new experience...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

a bit of a sad note to end the Bangladesh story on - or does this also give a sense of what the locals struggle with - i wonder