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Friday, 13 April 2012

Working, wilting or raining

The weather has caught up with us. All of a sudden it's 36/37 degrees (that's in the top 90s to you and me) and the humidity is on the up and up. 50% today and due to be 60% + from tomorrow.

....... I started this post nearly two weeks ago and since then the weather has been the constant topic of conversation.......

First of all, I must tell you about my friend and colleague Karen. Would I have made it alone through this whole experience? Well yes, you know me. But would I have still been sane at the end of it? I'm not so sure. We arrived on the same day, we're both short-term volunteers, both based in the VSO country office in Dhaka, both share a tiny office (the one with the server), both share the apartment. So it was crucial that we got along. It turns out that Karen is the same age as me, was born and brought up in Stockport, just down the road from where I was brought up. She's an HR expert, working as a consultant and interim, I'm a free-lance consultant and trainer working on people issues. She worked at the Commission for Equality & Human Rights, I work in equality and human rights, she trains in HR, strategy  and management skills, I train in management and strategy skills. She now lives in Malvern - we used to live down the road. Her brother lives five minutes away from my sister. Her partner died  a very few years ago and mine eighteen months ago. I could go on and on. All I can say is thank goodness. And thank you Karen, you've made it all not just survivable - but fun.

So, back to the heat. Weeks ago, when the heat was still bearable, we had started an exercise regime. We can't go out and walk around during the evening, so my bedroom became our gym and we were religiously following a 'six weeks to the perfect body' workout programme. 15 or 20 minutes every day. Sweaty but do-able. But, as the temperature and humidity increased, we had to stop. There is no air-conditioning in the apartment, just ceiling fans which aren't enough. The warm-up exercises are ok, but any more exertion and we immediately started to feel ill and had to stop. It's very strange, it must be a combination of the heat and the humidity and maybe because our bodies are just not used to it. So we spent our evenings lying on the sofa wilting and complaining.  At the weekend we drag our increasingly flabby bodies (well, mine anyway) to the Bagha club to use the pool and the gym which does have air-con. 

Then, a water crisis. WASA the state water company is ridiculously inefficient and corrupt, like most of the utilities here. No leaks are ever repaired. Outside the apartment, we've had a mains water pipe leaking gallons and gallons of water. It runs along the road for a couple of metres before dropping into the street drain every minute of every day for the past two months So, no wonder the water stops so often. For the past three week we've not been able to swim as the Bagha Club swimming pool water has been used to flush the toilets. Lovely. 

Then it rained. Cats and dogs. Stair-rods. Almost every day for the week we've had some rain. Not lasting more than a couple of hours or so, but torrential. With amazing thunder and lightening. Black as night during the day and the roads immediately becoming lakes. The temperature has gone down a couple of degrees and, bizarrely,  it's made all the difference. I'm not sweating all the time and my energy doesn't disappear so drastically as it was doing. I could almost say it felt quite fresh in the morning (almost).

And I missed the latest earthquake, damn it. It was 8.7 (epicentre offshore) and apparently it lasted five minutes. But where was I? In a damn CNG rattling through the streets of Dhaka trying to get from one meeting to another. I miss all the fun.

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