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Published: February 2nd 2014
Early Morning Wake-up
Some days I see more than I want to when I go out in the morning. I've learned not to look up when I walk through the streets.
Commutes are the most mundane part of our lives, and yet in each country I live in I find them fascinating. Traveling in other countries I ask people not what they do, but how they get to work. Many people tell me that they live nearby and walk to work, or even better, that they live upstairs from their shop and just have to walk downstairs in the morning. An easier commute, yet worse option in my opinion, is to sleep at work and not have another home.
Living in the US, I invariably drove my own car to work, often eating lunch at my desk. In Morocco I walked to work, walked home every day for lunch and walked back again in the afternoons. I enjoyed walking home in the evenings until somebody tried to mug me, after which I was so uneasy that I asked colleagues to walk me home if it was dark out. Turkey was my first experience with a shuttle van only for employees. Istanbul had a great public bus system, but many companies had their own shuttle vans for their employees. Mine had one for each area of town, vanpooling those who lived in
In the afternoons this corner is so crowded you can't see the sidewalk.
the same neighborhood.
In Bangladesh I do have my own car, so I don’t get the green award for walking to work like in Morocco. However, I share it with a couple who have two children, which at least is better than driving myself around like I did in Idaho. Our daily work routine is made easier by having driver six days of the week. I drive on Wednesdays. It’s surprisingly easy to rent a car with a driver here – and surprisingly difficult to rent one without a driver. Every morning the driver takes us to work, goes back to their house to take the kids to school, then in the afternoon takes the kids home before coming to pick us up from work.
Sunday through Thursday mornings I leave home at about 6:40, drive to my friends’ house two blocks away to pick them up, and leave there at about 6:45. We almost always get to work before 7:00. The weekend here is Friday and Saturday to accommodate the Muslim majority’s need to go to mosque on Friday. It still seems odd to me. In the other two Muslim countries I’ve lived in, Morocco and Turkey,
It's Not Morning Yet
I'm not the only one who has a hard time getting up in the morning. (Incase you're worried for his health, it's not a tumor. Men knot their lungis just above the waist.)
they had Saturday-Sunday weekends. Even after a year and a half it still throws me off to work on Sundays.
Our morning route takes us out of our neighborhood, Baridhara, and through a street called Rickshaw Alley. I thought it was just a nickname at first, but even Google Maps has it clearly labeled as Rickshaw Alley. From there we get out on the main road that goes from the city out towards the airport, and then turn into another neighborhood named Bashundhara.
As with everywhere I’ve lived, the streets are more or less empty before 7am. The morning commute is easy. Unless it’s Wednesday and I’m driving, I don’t really wake up until I get to work. However, I usually have a camera with me, so even if there is relatively little to see I still take some pictures in the morning.
The highlight of my morning commute it seeing construction workers brushing their teeth in the street. Most of them live on site, which both discourages squatters and ensures they will be at work on time. I do not have any photos of the morning teethbrushing because it seems so intimate.
You can't call it a school bus, but it's more than a rickshaw.
Even if they’re standing on the side of the street, very clearly in public, morning hygiene is still a private kind of activity. On top of that, they are generally staring at me when I drive by. It doesn’t seem to matter that I go by every morning, they still stare at me as if I were a giraffe walking down the street. I often feel very uncomfortable by how much people stare at me here and would feel even more uncomfortable taking a photo of somebody staring at me while he brushed his teeth. You’ll just have to imagine the scene.
Scroll down, there are more pictures below.
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