Today is Friday which is the "day of rest" for most of the country. The majority of buisnesses are closed and there is generally less congestion in the city as people tend to spend more time with their families. Laura and I had a delicious chicken/pancake/spicy homefry breakfast compliments of Shelpie. My parents finally figured out Skype and joined the 21st century! I was even able to see my dog, Skippy live time. We had the driver pick us up in the afternoon to venture out into the city.
We first stopped at the US Embassy to check in and work on our American Club passes. Next time we will check the hours since they are closed on Fridays... We decided on a late lunch at the Westin which is one of Dhaka's main 5 star hotels. It was relaxing to be in an air conditioned environment without masses of people around. The man who sold us postcards at one the hotel's stores told us that business has been light since the political unrest began. We chatted with him for a bit and found out many of the Bengali people study English at various levels. He said "it's so easy with the grammar rules you have, the Bengla language is what is hard." This wasn't quite the encouragement I needed for my goal of casually picking of Bengla in 3 months... Another interesting fact we found was his work schedule, he works 7 days a week- aka EVERYDAY. After giving him a shocked look (I really need to work on my poker face) he simply shrugged his shoulders and said, "what can I do, I'm poor."
The Westin menu had a few more edible options on the menu for us. I finally was able to get fish! While waiting for the food we were able to catch up on the international news with what appeared to be every newspaper ever published. I updated myself on the North Korean situation, the ~30 Bangladeshi immigrant strawberry pickers who were alleged shot by the Greek farmer for requesting their unpaid wages, the amount of people killed/injured in the train derailment in Bangladesh and the many more news stories that will never make American news. Outside the Westin the streets are surrounded by people begging for food or money. It appeared that only foreigners (all the embassies are nearby) are allowed in. Our driver had to travel through multiple check points to drop us off at the entrance including bomb detection machines.
On the walls in the background of the Westin, the TV's played the local Boston channel 4 news with the Marathon terror updates. I never in my wildest dreams (or nightmares) thought I would be sitting on the other side of the world watching the news about my hometown city of Boston being on lock down. In Bangladesh these types of scenarios happen daily but yet once someone from here realized I was from Boston, they almost immediately offered condolences and asked about my loved ones. That type of compassion is priceless. I asked someone how they cope with that type of violence here so regularly, he smiled sweetly, looked down and said, "you shouldn't have to and I hope you never do." Those words from a total stranger were much more powerful to me then he will ever realize. My prayers and thoughts are with everyone back at home, stay strong! Namaste.