Bangladesh is bursting with people. With 159 million residents in a country the size of Wales, it definitely looks and feels overcrowded. In Dhaka, roads full of rickshaws and cars, trucks and pedestrians, make it neigh impossible to walk, let alone run around the place. Even the city’s parks are so full to capacity that walkways are one way, making park-goers stroll around all in the same direction.
Bangladesh is also a Muslim country. Women are swathed in brightly coloured saris and Punjabi suits, meticulously covering themselves from head-to-toe. Running around the streets in t-shirt and shorts, I figured could be on the culturally inappropriate side.
I relayed my dilemma to one of the international staff. He suggested running on a tread-mill at one of the international clubs. Just as he was dropping me off for my run, he mentions that the club is a members-only place. “But not to worry. Tell the guard your friend is inside, go up to the bar and get someone to sign you in”.
The guard looked at me very suspiciously. He was under strict instructions not to be letting random people in. “Why don’t you call your friend to come down?” “I’m new to the country and don’t have a mobile yet”, I lied. After much cajoling and persuading, he finally let me through. I ran up to the bar and spotted a chap with two kids in tow. “Hi there. Could you do us a favour and sign me?”
Trying to make my case, I went on to explain who I was working with and what I was doing in Bangladesh. “You work for them? Sorry, but I definitely can’t sign you in then”, he sternly states in return. Oops… wrong ‘friend’ to ask. Just as I start backing away, he starts to laugh. “No worries. I worked for them too in Africa”. He gives his name and I recognise it straight away – I had read a report of his only a few days before!
He proudly signs me as his new-found friend. Utterly grateful, I thank him profusely. Back at the office, the staff find this story all very amusing.
Jeez, the things a girl has to do sometimes to get herself a run!