Thursday, June 21, 2012

How to Watch U.S. TV shows in Asia

Life outside the U.S. presents some unique challenges to the hapless traveler, in addition to the usual, more expected ones.  Funky electric plugs, 220 volts rather than 110, PAL/SECAM TV systems rather than the good ol’ NTSC, don’t drink the water, bleach the veggies, cultivate geckos for nightstand neighbors and even give them names, U.S. websites streaming video refusing to do so on foreign soil, filing taxes late because of slow mail, no parsley or mushrooms in the markets year long, and left-side driving cars. You get used to it all. Or find workarounds.

This is what watching American TV shows looks like in Bangladesh:

1.       Take your American flat screen and connect it to a power source using a massively large, ugly red power converter from 220V to 110V.

2.       Then connect the TV to a NTSC to PAL/SECAM converter to be able to watch the local TV.

3.       Then connect the Internet modem to a UPS unit to prevent it from shutting down during the 34 power outages at night.

4.       Then connect the Wi-Fi converter to the modem.

5.        Then connect to the Internet wirelessly from the living room.

6.       Then connect to an IP address hiding software to pretend that your computer is in the US (hint: try "Hide My Ass")

7.       Then connect your laptop to the TV with a cable – of you are lucky and you have new model laptop, you have HDMI outlet and can do the job with one cable. If not,

8.       Connect your laptop to a speaker system so that you can actually hear what you watching on the big screen.

9.       Go to and subscribe, then find your favorite show and realize the season finale has been a month ago and you have an entire season worth to watch.

10.   Get yourself a glass of wine, settle on the lazy boy (supplied by the American government) and press play.

11.   Feel smug that you are so damn smart and awesome to figure it all out within less than one and half hours.

12.   Smell something funny. Once the screen goes blank, realize that you have fried most of the connected appliances since you have apparently overloaded the fragile local electrical system.

13.   Sit and drink wine, staring grimly at the empty screen and the smoking wall socket.

14.   Buy a multizone TV that runs both on 110 and 220V. Go to bed irritated. Wait for a month for the TV to get to you.

Other than that, life here has been peachy. Last week marked another eventful string of memorable parties. On Tuesday night, I went out to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Nepalese mission to Bangladesh. A tasteful soiree, it was made even more fun by the rather irreverent comments of the Maldives and Australian Deputy Chiefs of Mission.  On Thursday, we had to actually decline a dinner invite – I was exhausted from work (I am transitioning from American Citizen Service to Nonimmigrant visas and doing both at the same time) plus I had to shop for the dinner party we were hosting the following night.

And then on Friday, I spent the better part of the morning in a small community hall occupied by a devoted Christian church. For the past month, I had worked with a couple of colleagues to organize a breast cancer awareness event for the church as requested by one of their constituents. I had invited a prominent doctor from a local hospital, who gave an outstanding presentation on the subject along with a rather revealing self-exam video that was stoically born by the male audience. The video was difficult to watch also for me, but only because it was from some time in the late 1980s and featured a British woman with a hideous 80s hairdo. Two of my Embassy colleagues, both breast cancer survivors, also spoke poignantly about their own experiences. I cried my eyes out and then spoke some decisive and wonderfully broken Bangla to the stunned audience. Overall, it was amazing and the community kept thanking us afterwards.

The experience left me incredibly emotionally drained, which was unfortunate since I had to dash back home and prepare 10 perfect  filet mignons, 10 little cream cheese souffl├ęs, a bunch of appetizers, salads and soups. But thanks to a fearless housekeeper who is an exquisite chopper and indefatigable dish washer, and a devoted Diplomat who took Son to a rowdy birthday party, all 5 courses were done with time to spare. The evening was spent among good friends with lots of humor, a variety of whiskies and plans for golf for the men. The next day, the Diplomat valiantly took Son to the American Club so that mama can sleep in and her home masseuse (oh yes, she comes home and she rocks!) can come and baby her for 3 hours. He was rewarded with a few hours on the driving range with a bunch of guys. Yes, this was one very good weekend for all indeed.
We submit our bidlist next week. Brrr....
In other bad news, (a few) mosquitoes have come back. WTF?

1 comment:

  1. Hey how r u guys doing?
    Any trip to West India (Gujarat) let us know and we will welcome you here.
    keep us posted.