Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Dhaka Diary: The Cup That Counts?

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For those who didn't know, work took me to Dhaka, Bangladesh just in time to kick off the 2011 Cricket World Cup! Here are some (backdated) notes from that 4-day whirlwind trip... (16-20 Feb 2011)
Koffee with me!
My first day in Dhaka was spent mostly on absorbing the chaos of this city and then meeting the team I had put together. We met at Coffee World, and once there it felt just like a coffee shop back home. In the midst of introductions, pleasantries and finally work-related briefing, I ordered for a cappuccino. Not bad. But I told the guy to make it a strong one as I intended to get back to my hotel and work for some time.

As it turns out, here I am... replying to a barrage of emails and having multiple conversations on IM. To make matters worse, I had managed only 2.5 hours of sleep before leaving home. And now, I'm wide awake because of that #$%&;*@! coffee. Good luck to me!

Back at the hotel, the staff kindly brought me some dinner even though it was well past their serving time. Quite an array as you can see from the barely lit photograph alongside.

The Dhaka team seems alright. O and A, the guys, seem quite intelligent and enthusiastic. The girl, N, is also quite excited about the project at hand. But I keep reminding myself that I mustn't get over-friendly, or they might just take me for granted. 

Right then, back to work.

PS: That #$%&;*@! cappuccino was excellent, by the way. I'm not a big fan of strong coffee, but this cuppa just felt awesome. It surely was the "The Cup That Counts" for me!

PPS: Must. buy. mosquito. repellent. Aaaargh, these bloody suckers!

Dhaka Diary: Joi Bangla!

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For those who didn't know, work took me to Dhaka, Bangladesh just in time to kick off the 2011 Cricket World Cup! Here are some (backdated) notes from that 4-day whirlwind trip...

Flight or Fight
My flight was on time and I arrived in Dhaka safe and sound. Except for the guy seated next to me who decided to blare a Bollywood duet on his mobile before take-off (had to tell him to shut it) and being welcomed by big fat mosquitoes at the conveyor belt, everything was well. But then, I had to remind myself that I was a foreigner in this country even if I didn't look like one ;) and needed to keep my fearless "Bombay girl" instincts aside.

Dhaka is all decked up for the 2011 Cricket World Cup (CWC). Everywhere you'll see signs bearing the CWC logo, and brands welcoming one and all to the big event. When I told one of the airport officials (who stopped me before I exited the airport) that I was here for the World Cup, he just let me go without a word.

My counterpart (NM) here picked me up from the airport and insisted I go to her home for lunch. And her folks had prepared a feast: rice, beef slow-cooked in whole spices, fried 'ilish maach' (hilsa fish which was highly recommended but I wasn't too thrilled by it), another fish preparation (which was super yummy), a mixed sabzi and salad. Enjoyed the meal and the conversations thoroughly. 

Before lunch, I had checked into my hotel. It's actually more of a homely guesthouse, and in a very quiet location called Gulshan surrounded by various consulates, so I'm guessing it's very safe. Met Paul, the manager who I had spoken to over the phone from India. A middle-aged stocky man, Paul was quite cooperative even before I reached Dhaka. I landed there forgetting to carry a printout of my email booking. No money was exchanged, yet I had a roof over my head in another country. Will try and review the place in another post with pics of my room.

The good news is that the hotel has decent wifi. As of now. So work/tweeting will not be a problem, I guess.

And I also remember that I haven't slept much over the past few days in the run-up to this trip. Been also running around coordinating with the client, my in-venue teams and various entities for accreditation, and helping a colleague with his travel plans for Sri Lanka, co-host of the CWC. Of late, I've been fighting a lot. With people, red tape, myself... I love travelling and this was my first solo trip in the real sense. But somewhere within, I was too stressed out to get excited about Dhaka.

Before I left for Dhaka, I did chat with NM for some details... Like if there was any dress code for women, safety while venturing out, etc. I was told there are very few women who dress in western clothes, but it's not strict as long as you're decently dressed. So I did make a mental note of what to pack (jeans + kurtas/tunic tops). But this Bombay girl was disappointed to learn that she wouldn't be able to venture out on her own late in the evening or at night. Plus I realised that not knowing Bangla was a huge barrier to me going anywhere or getting anything done. 

Sigh, aami Bangla jaani naa...

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Wanted: Friend

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The 2011 Cricket World Cup looms over my head... and the last couple of months have been exhausting and frustrating.

Work is understandably hectic. I don't mind slogging away even if it means putting in 12-15 hours at the office with another 2-3 hours for the daily commute (Bombay traffic has become insane!). Home has become a hotel room. I walk in at night, only to find the lights out, everyone asleep, and then stare at a cold dinner to be microwaved. Finally try to sleep for barely five hours (six or seven, if I'm lucky). Back to the grind. Rinse. Repeat.

What makes it worse, there's no one to talk to about my day. Except maybe for this one friend over GTalk or the occasional SMS or via Twitter.

Which friend? Ah, someone who brought (brings?) sunshine to my life, and ensures I stay spirited. Until now. I know expectations can kill relationships. And maybe I'm just over-reacting. But I need the attention now more than ever because I feel like I'm just drowning with all that's going on.

So dear friend, if you're reading this... PLEASE understand why I'm behaving the way I am. Could do with a few hugs, you know :(


PS: All the stress has now taken shape of a slight cold, an annoying cough, a sore throat, an itchy stye in my right eye, an erratic period for the last month (almost thought I missed it). And mood swings. And tears are my only counter for everything right now. Yes, I'm putting it out here because I want to.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Getting arty-farty

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Just posting a quick note...

I visited this year's Kala Ghoda Arts Festival (KGAF) last Saturday (first day) for a few hours. It was crowded as usual. But quiet. Very quiet. All thanks to a resident's campaign against loudspeakers to protect the area which is a silence zone. Will post links later to the news.

No need to hate the guy who fought the cause. I believe he did the right thing. And what really stood out is that the crowd that came by was a much better one, more civil, and sensible. The riff-raff stayed away as there was nothing "inviting" their attention. Sure, you need more street spaces livened up. But rules are rules. And they need to be adhered to. The only thing I don't like is that there are many who flout noise rules and civility in the name of religion (examples: Ganpati Visarjan revelry; Diwali firecrackers at 4am and forever; Bandra Fair during the feast of Mount Mary).

Anyway, I got a few snapshots from KGAF last week. Head over to the photo-blog to catch those, and leave me some feedback. I'm trying to work on my photography skills, you see ;)

Will be back with more KGAF pics soon. Plan to go there on Saturday again.


PS: I have an interesting work-related announcement to make. BUT that will have to wait till next week.

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