It seems like it’s a Tale of Two Cities week. Last week, I started composing a blog post on that theme, and in Quiz Night this week, one of the clues featured the classic opening line, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” In that line, Dickens captured the way I feel about most of my days here in Dhaka—simultaneously experiencing the extremes of wonder and horror, always a sense of both and rarely of the grey area in between.
It’s so different from my life in Oakland, where my days tripped by, one after the next, a haze of mellowness and gentle sunshine. Even the weather was moderate and mild. (Not to say I wasn’t beset by both good and bad happenings, but that it was never as visceral as it is here, in the land of endless sweltering heat).
The last few weeks in Dhaka have been the best of times: celebrations of life (weddings, babies, graduations, etc.), the advent of the annual rains (though some debate the joy in this, the locals and I both are very happy with the rain), welcomes, new jobs (mine!), etc. But, it’s also a bit of the worst of times: deaths, disease, departures, despair and, of course, the ever present haunting by South-Asian intestinal discomfort.
On my own part, starting a new job has been the best and worst of times as well. I have the joys of occupation and companionship, but those are contrasted with extreme exhaustion and the cultural-shock of being in an office for the first time in many many many years. (Most of my work life I was my own boss, or someone else’s, hired by the project or the course, it is exceedingly strange to be reliant on the schedules of others, to attend staff meetings and to negotiate the whims of the mysterious bureaucracy which employs me.)
But, I digress… and so segue into an apology for my long absence from this blog. It’s partly due to being overwhelmed by the new job, and just general Dhaka-malaise, but I’ve stockpiled a few posts that will follow this one today, and hopefully be returning generally to the land of the living and blogging over the next weeks. After all, there are holidays, balls, and adventures to describe, and if I don’t, who will?