Ok, so I’m not suffering from panic attacks at the thought of going outside, but I have certainly been “in” more than “out” since we’ve gotten back from Maternity leave, and those “out” moments have generally been at the American club, or the embassy itself. I’ve been to the Pizza Hut and the Nandos a few times as well. I don’t think I’ve actually been inside a store or restaurant other than those since we got back. I’ve been to the houses of 5 people other than ourselves. So, I certainly am acting like I’m agoraphobic. I am trying to decide if it’s a phobia or an apathy, a social withdrawal, or a lack of friends and invitations.

Regardless of what it is, it’s left me feeling pretty pathetic. And then, of course, silly for feeling sorry for my lonely self, when I could just go out and do something about it, right? Grr…. conundrums!

Perhaps its something else, I’ll call it oiko-pagtha (greek-ish for house and trap), the feeling of being trapped in/by the house.

When we first came to Dhaka, I was adventurous, walking hither and yon through the streets, out for hours in the heat on a search for acrylic paints, sim cards, sewing thread, cilantro, etc. It was somewhat gross, between my own sweatiness, the stink of the open sewer, and the stress of close proximity to millions of people with completely different attitudes toward personal space, but doable. Over time, however, I’ve become much more reclusive, isolated and insulated. I rarely step out of the air conditioning. I travel by car. I go to only a few places. I have become the insoluble expat that I never wanted to become. I am embarrassed of myself.

In the post research process, I wanted to live in a place where I could really immerse myself in the culture, and we rated posts with compounds and fishbowl communities low. When we were planning to come, I read all about the possible sites and adventures possible here (limited, yes, compared to some countries, but there are some). Where did that person go? Is it Dhaka or is it me? If I  am really trapped in my home, it is a prison of my own making, of course. But, is it too late to find a way out?

With less than 4 months to go, many other FS-types have a bucket list of things to do before they go “wheels up.” Am I even interested in a Dhaka bucket list (and what would be on it that I haven’t already done?)? Had the frustration with the traffic and the general inaccessibility of everything in this town finally done me in?

So, perhaps, both apathy and apagtha. A trap of my own making that I am am not yet motivated to break free of.

4 thoughts on “…Agoraphobia

  1. I understand both the initial enthusiasm, and the wearing effect living in a completely foreign culture can have. It’s hard to never see anything familiar, despite your best efforts to embrace differentness. Yeah, I wanna explore it all, but at the end of the day, i want to come home to what’s familiar to me. I expect that you will experience this, in varying degrees, in all your non-Western posts. Longer stays, of sufficient length to allow you to fully acclimate, would probably allow you to move past this stage, but two years? Naaaaah.

  2. Just found your blog–I did my first tour in Dhaka and am now in Beijing. I really enjoyed reading your posts and could very much relate to this one. Don’t worry, no matter what it is, let’s call it Dhaka and promise to do better at the next post. It is a tough, tough place to live (though you might find, as I did, that it takes on a rosy glow after you leave), and you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself!


    1. Thanks, Katie, I was reading your blog before we got here, it was very helpful! Now that the end is really in sight, i’m feeling better, but I still feel very trapped here. Next year, I’ll probably be struggling with the opposite, so many things to do that I’ll never be able to fit it all in. Luckily, in Dhaka, people are starting to return from summer break, so, even today, things were more exciting. Big pool fun.

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