While we arrived in Dhaka late last week, we hadn’t got strong access to the internet yet, so I couldn’t post anything.
Tonight that changed!!
Our adventure of the week has pretty much been dealing with the new life, but there’s not much more to that than dealing with the slow pace at which tasks are accomplished, the chaos of speaking pidgin Bangla with someone else who speaks pidgin English, and the general confusion of learning a new city’s streets, shops and traffic patterns.
Last night we learned that 7 pm is not the time to drive from our neighborhood to the American club, for example. We also learned that the internet to wifi there has been very patchy in the last few weeks… and it takes about an hour to send a quick email.
One of the exciting new things in our life is this cool water distiller. In the Foreign Service, if you’re posted to a country with poor civil water quality, you might get issued a water distiller that will purify all the water you care to drink, or brush your teeth with, or rinse your contacts in, etc. And who _wants_ to get Cholera, right?
Our water distiller happens to be bran’ spankin’ new. We’re the first to use it. It’s a relatively big responsibility, as it requires monthly descaling, and a few other maintenance tasks. It comes with two white chemicals that are used for cleaning it, both of which are also used to clean home brewers and wine kits. Maybe we’ll have to branch out in our still-ery. I doubt it.
The department also provides many homes with a handy water dispenser to make the distiller easier to use. (If you use the distiller without the dispenser, it’s a bit like using a hose for your daily tasks). Our dispenser has a hot and cold tap, but it’s not running yet, because the plug outlet and the counter space are not aligned. We put in a request for a dispenser stand, and it should be here, like the internet, sometime this week.
The water it produces is the best water I’ve tasted, significantly better than most city water or bottled water. It’s close to the sweet mountain spring stuff. The main drawback for families with children is that the distiller provides water free of _all_ impurities, even those, like fluoride which we in the US add to our water to strengthen our teeth. Thus, children have to use fluoride toothpastes even though they are usually not recommended for the very young due to issues of ingestion poisoning. Yet, a little fluoride toothpaste is better than a lot of arsenic, the other exciting water surprise in Bangladesh.
Did you know that the leading cause of death in this country is arsenic poisoning from ground water contamination? Yikes. Considering the diet, disease and accident rates, there must be a considerable number of people with white fingernails (a symptom of arsenic poisoning) out there.
In other words, I am grateful for my distiller, even if it makes brushing my teeth a strangely long process every day. Once we get a few pitchers to put in the bathrooms, that should be a lot easier.