Thursday, June 14, 2007

Kathas, Bighas, Lakhs, and Crore
June 14, 2007

One of the challenges of working over here is that they have completely different measurement systems that are every bit as crazy and nonsensical as the American "foot" and "acre". While I do have some idea as to how big an acre is, I am afraid that I can not say the same for "kathas".

Land here is measured in "kathas" and "bighas". A katha is 720 square feet and a bigha equals 20 katha, so it is about 1/3 of an acre.

Numbers are often measured in "lakhs" and "crore". A lakh is 100,000. So 65 lakh is 6,500,000 which is usually written as "65,00,000" in Bangla. While at first the concept of a lakh was quite baffling, I have found that it is actually useful. Since there are about 68 taka in one dollar, the numbers here are much bigger, so it is easier to think about "65" instead of "6,500,000". I now know that a new three-bedroom apartment in Dhaka costs about 100 lakh, so that helps me put building prices into perspective. We are trying to create homes for the garment workers that cost about 2 lakh taka. A crore is 100 lakh or 10,000,000.


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