Thursday, February 24, 2005

a bit more

Did I mention that the reason for the power cuts is that there is not enough natural gas for the power plants? Apparently there are some large gas fields in the country, but they are running out. I should count my blessings though, as the paper this morning mentioned that Chittagong, the port city, has only 60% of the required power, and thus at any time 40% of that city is dark and fanless due to "load shedding".

Another delightful detail from a few days back was that one of the largest stations was offline for "routine maintenance". It was unclear that any steps had been taken to accomodate the gap that would thereby be created.

The paper this morning also mentioned that some Islamic Militants had been rounded up. There have been some bombings, though nothing like other parts of the world. One can tell this is an Islamic country from the absence of cows on the streets (they eat them here, and do not worship them) the head coverings on some men, the abayas a few of the women wear, and the many mosques, but the sense I one gets is that there are few fanatics here. Many women wear saris that are indistinguishable from their cousins in India, and while alcohol is not sold, it is consumed (if you visit, bring some Johnny Walker, it seems popular).

There was one moment of nervousness for me. We were walking down a street here in Dhanmondi and I heard the man behind us singing. For some reason the thought entered my head "this is a Muslim country, I don't understand Bengali, perhaps he is singing 'kill the Jews, kill the Jews, if only we could find some we would kill the Jews'". Of course I was pretty sure that was not what he was singing, and Devin immediately remembered an episode of Futureama that was on point: the robots are singing in binary, and it turns out that the song is "kill the humans". Devin is always there with the pop culture reference. We probably would have discussed the relative of obscurity of Futureama, but we started talking about something else.

I am back to Calcutta this evening, for a few more days, and then to Bhutan.


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