Thursday, January 11, 2007

Fulbright Blog
Place: Dhaka
Date: January 9, 2007

I am starting to get settled into my new apartment. I now need to clean, paint, and furnish it! The "cleaning job" done by the landlord was atrocious! (I certainly hope he did not pay his cleaners much!) They did not even remove the old tenant's things. (I was not that sad to inherit a broom and mop, but I could have done without the old potatoes and papers...) The kitchen was so gross that I thought the shelves were brown. Only after scrubbing them did I discover that they were actually white!! (Or at least they were until I painted them neon lavender, but more on that later...) I had watched Snow White a few days before and my cleaning episode reminded me of the scene where Snow White cleans up the dwarves' cottage. I was not whistling while I worked, however, and sadly there were no forest creatures to help me, but the transformation from "grimy" to "clean" was quite similar...

When I finished, however, the shelves were still stained (unfortunately the selection of brands of cleaning supplies here is very limited and there is no equivalent of Comet here - which in my opinion is one of the world's best cleansers for tough jobs...) Consequently, I decided to give it a fresh coat of paint to cover the grime.

I was able to negotiate down the rent on my apartment on the condition that I paint the apartment myself, which was fine with me since I like to paint and would have repainted the apartment in the colors that I like anyway. I was not going to paint the kitchen, however, because I will not be spending any time in there (at least I won't one I finally find a new boua!) Cleanliness, however, demanded it. So, I went to a paint store in Gulshan-2 Circle (a roundabout which is the center of Gulshan-2). In Bangladesh (unfortunately!) there is no equivalent of a Home Depot (oh how I miss it and my weekly visits with my friend CJ!) so you have to go to several different hole-in-the-wall-mom-and-pop-type places to get the hardware items that you need. They also do not have the concept of paint chips that you can take with you, so I had to plead with the paint store owner to let me take home his book of colors for 15 minutes while I matched the colors to the kitchen tiles.

Now here I will add an aside to tell you my friend Steve's experience with painting in Dhaka. He also went to a painting store and picked out a sage shade of green. The people in the store kept trying to convince him to get a brighter color, but Steve wanted the more muted version. When he got home, however, he saw that they had given him a bright grass green instead (apparently thinking that a brighter color would make him happier...)

And now with that story in your head, we will return to my apartment where I am holding a weathered book of paint chips encased in plastic leaves to my kitchen tiles. My tiles are variegated with colors ranging from off-white to grey, to a purplish grey. I liked the purplish grey color, so I chose that one and returned to the paint store. I then returned home and put on the first coat of paint. I thought that it looked very bright, but I know that paint can dry to different colors. As I was crossing my fingers, Steve happened to call and ask me to dinner. Over food at the American Club, I reiterated the day's painting events. He asked if I went to the paint store in Gulshan-2 Circle. I answered, "yes," with a sinking feeling in my stomach. He told me that was where he bought his paint too.

Sure enough, when I returned home, the lavender paint was no less neon than when I left it...


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