Thursday, January 18, 2007

Fulbright Blog
Place: Dhaka
Date: January 18, 2007

So I went back to the post office in Gulshan today to see if my packages from the States had arrived there yet. I also had to mail a few packages home.

I think that the Bangladeshi post offices are some of the most interesting places that I have been in Dhaka so far! Like the main General Post Office (GPO), the Gulshan Post Office is dark and dingy on the inside with wooden desks, counters, and shelves. The shelves contain many yellowed, dogeared books with handwritten entries of every package that was shipped or received into or out of the post office. It almost seems like something out of a Harry Potter book.

It took me a very long time to ship anything, because you can not just buy shipping boxes or high quality envelopes over here. Consequently, I had to wait until I acquired some boxes. Thankfully, among the old potatoes and bits of string the previous tenant of my apartment left behind, I managed to also find a few smaller sized boxes. They were old boxes covered with writing, however, so I bought some brown paper to cover them with. The paper was very thin though, so I basically wrapped all of the boxes a second time with packing tape!

When I got to the post office, I saw how Bangladeshis wrap their packages. Instead of using paper, they use white cloth that is sewn around the box. The seams are dotted with red wax. This is actually very useful, because after you fill out the mailing form and the customs form, the post office pastes the customs form onto the box (or taped in my case!) and then they SEW the shipping form onto the outside! No, that was not a typo. They roll up your shipping form (like if you were to attach a letter to a bird's leg - hmmm again a Harry Potter reference. Perhaps J.K. Rowling was inspired by a Bangladesh post office!) then they tie a string around it and sew it to your package. They even sewed the form to my package, but they had to stick the needle through the box as well as the outer wrapping. I hope it stays on!

Another interesting thing that I discovered at the post office: they put all of the letters going to a particular city into a large gunny sack which they then tie. Around the neck of the sack, they tie a label, like an airline baggage tag, with the name of the city on it. That tag is then stamped with a wax seal.

Oh, and in case you are wondering, no! I have not received my packages yet! I am afraid the post office guy tried calling me and realized that I gave him a fake number! I am hoping that perhaps they accidentally sent it to Mohammadpur instead, since that is what the address on the box says. So, on Sunday I will go to work in Mohammadpur and check out the post office there just in case... Otherwise, the guy told me to come back on Tuesday. It is very frustrating to know that your packages are somewhere in the city, but that you can not retrieve them! I knew that leaving them at the GPO was a BAD idea. Since I had already made the trip down there, why didn't they just let me take them with me??

On a totally different subject. There are two guys in my bathroom right now "polishing" my marble counter. Of all of the things that my landlord decides to fix, this is what he chooses? I would prefer to fix my cracked toilet seat, or my two broken screens. There was really nothing wrong with the counter to begin with and now that they are almost through, it looks exactly the same to me... (Oh, and don't get the wrong idea! My bathroom is not fancy! It has generic linoleum tiles and the stickers are still on the sink from when they were installed ten years ago. Of all of the places that require marble polishing, I would have put my bathroom on the bottom of the list!)



At Saturday, January 20, 2007 10:21:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Kristin,
I'm enjoying your posts very much, and appreciate your taking the time to write. I'm still concerned that your apartment has so many potatoes. Perhaps Hamida can help resolve that problem?
best wishes,
Phil McCray
Ithaca, New York


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