Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Winter in Bangladesh - scarves and mosquitoss

So, winter has descended upon us here in Bangladesh. For weeks, my driver has been warning me grimly how horribly cold it would get in Dhaka. So, in excited anticipation (yes, after months of wet 100F and above, you TOO will be excited about cold weather), I pulled out the sweaters and arranged them in neat piles in our closets. And then I sat down and waited, day by day, for the severe cold that comes here. And then it got down to a pleasant 85 degrees and half of Bangladesh started wearing scarves. Thick, pashmina, colorful scarves. My driver, for example, wears one obsessively, tightly wrapped around his neck. I am not sure what exactly it does for him-whether he thinks it blocks the harmful chilly 85 degree air or he is missing the feeling of constant sweating from the sweltering summer. The door guards wear parkas and hats and I feel rather stupid walking past them in a backless summer dress. The rickshaw wallahs wrap yards of fabric around their heads and today I saw a guy with red ear muffs.

With winter came along also a famous Bangladeshi visitor--the hungry mosquito. They are everywhere--at home, in front of your home, in the office, in the car, around the car, in your nose or buzzing in your ears, often tangled in your hair, all over your exposed feet and defenseless child. The biggest swarms seem to be, inexplicably, in front of the apartment doors. Coming home has become a challenge worthy of Super Mario, where I would slowly come to the door, flail my arms bravely and try to kill as many as I possibly can, earning a coin each time I do. It doesn't help that I have a nice, cheap plastic autumn wreath on my door, which has been chosen (with delight, I am sure) as a favorite mosquito hangout spot. When I shake the damn wreath, about a million precocious and irritated mosquitoes fall out of it and start buzzing around me in irritation. Then I crack the door open and dash quickly inside at which point Son comes out of nowhere, screaming in delight upon seeing mama and then opening the front door wide open, probably to see if there is some other part of me left out there. In silent dismay I watch the pesky tiny neighbors come in for a visit in droves. Sure, we do try to keep them at bay with various contraptions - in front of the entrance door, I keep a slow burning coil, which sends a thin veil of scented smoke around the door. As a result, the entire building staircase smells like a Buddhist temple but it DOES help keep at least some percentage away. Inside, we have plug-in lamps that use heated scented oil. The oil is really effective--we have not had a mosquito in our bedroom or in Son's room for a long time. The downside is that it smells like a truly cheap perfume, the kind that they used to make back in the Soviet Union days and so it always reminds me vaguely of discos and teenage dating. Finally, to my utmost distaste, we finally armed ourselves with an electric tennis racket - the contraption allows you to electrocute (to the tune of an awful cracking, frying sound and smell) a flying by mosquito. So far, I have managed to electrocute one little buzzer but I can tell you, it is not a job for the faint of heart!
The most irritating part of them is that one mosquito tends to bite many times around the same spot - I'd rather the damn insect man up and bite once but show some quality work. These bites usually go away in a couple of hours but while they last, you will scratch your skin like a rabid dog. Not to mention that we are all morbidly afraid that we will catch Dengue fever, carried ever so graciously by the mosquitoes.
This is the season for Christmas parties, and boy, everyone has got some serious Christmas spirit. Starting tomorrow, we will be visiting Christmas parties every day, and on Thursday alone, we will go to 4, yes, 4 of them. I LOVE it!


  1. winter cannot be severe like DC or NY. But it is great relef from sweltering summer in these tropic climate regions. i used to ride a two wheeler while at hyderabad(india) with my son standing in the front and my daughter sitting on her mother's lap in the pillion, on the tankbund(road abutting the famous Huseein sagar lake. While I used to cover my face fully with a helmet including eyes, my son used to bear the brunt of mosquito attack which came and used to him on face in swarms. there is the locality adjacent to this tank bund christened officially as Domalguda(mosquito place). I hope the quantum is not so severe as in Hyderabad, and my son may be able to recollect those days of his childhood and narrate to you. perhaps he must be enjoying ur discomfiture!

  2. Hotel Mount Heera is committed to enhance the guest experience naturally by Conserving human and natural resources to serve all our guests whole heartedly the best with a smile. Strategically located at the heart of expanding Alandur, St Thomas Mount near to Chennai Airport & Chennai Trade Centre & Industrial Estate Guindy, I T Park, in a serene residential Locality with calm surroundings. 10minutes walk from the Guindy Bus stops.

  3. I do agree with you about this matter and I hauled out the sweaters and masterminded them in flawless heaps in our storage rooms. And afterward I sat down and held up, step by step, for the extreme cool that comes here. And afterward it got down to an average 85 degrees and 50% of Bangladesh began wearing scarves. Thick, pashmina, beautiful scarves. My driver, for instance, wears one fanatically, firmly wrapped around his neck.