Hartal in Dhaka

Hartal has become a part of my everyday vocabulary since moving to Bangladesh. Every once in a while, a general strike is declared and the whole city basically shuts down. As we live in what is called the diplomatic enclave, an area where most embassies sit, I cannot say that hartal has bothered me that much throughout the year. Shops are closed, so you better have groceries at home, and my husband had to hire an ambulance to attend some meeting, recently, but my daughter’s school continues to operate ; they just ask that the children don’t wear their uniform. Of course, only three or fours kids show up in each class, usually.

We had a hartal two Sundays ago, and this past Sunday AND Monday were also hartal. As we’re so close to the end of the school year, and I knew they would just waste their time in class, I decided to keep them at home. I made sure they worked in the morning, and took them to the swimming pool at the club, in the afternoon.

Yesterday morning, I was buying some presents for the family back in France and Spain, and we passed the shell of a bus. The driver, or the owner, must have decided they were not going to loose a day’s takings. Or maybe there is another reason I don’t know of. In any case, and as you can clearly see, it was set ablaze. According to the newspaper, another bus and several vehicles met with the same fate. I wonder what happened to the bus drivers, and the passengers.

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2 thoughts on “Hartal in Dhaka

  1. Oh my god–Katia, I’m so glad you are getting a break from this.
    Fascinating to read–but difficult to live with, I’m sure. So glad you kept your daughters at home during this time.

  2. Thanks, Janet. I think I’m a little jaded. I hear about all that, but my life is so sheltered. Apart from the frustrations, I can just stay in my apartment and live virtually, which is basically what I do. Not very exciting, and I may become even more insane than I already was when we moved here, but at least, this is something that’s right up my alley. Not everyone can spend days inside, on the computer, and not blow a gasket. But driving by that shell, yesterday, made me realize, once more, how difficult things are for most people in this city. At least, I don’t need to travel in one of those buses which, even when they have not been torched, look as if they have been patched up a hundred million times.

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