Yesterday, it being Thursday - the beginning of Bangladesh’s weekend – and payday, seemed a good opportunity to investigate some of the other clubs in the Gulshan area before we all headed off to start work. Having now secured our Bagha club cards despite VSO’s and others best efforts to prevent this simple task, we were able to go to the Nordic club for the evening, which happened to be holding a James Bond themed party. Another opportunity to find out how thrilling expat life can be.
The Nordic Club, as its name suggests, is the second home of Swedes, Danes, Finns, Norwegians and Icelandics. The general clientele did definitely look as such, with lots of silly beards and blonde hair, surrounded by a décor somewhere between a ship and a sauna. However, they had made some effort with lighting up their outside area (no doubt at the expense of domestic power in slums elsewhere in the city), and one or two had come in elaborate costume – or at least we can assume it was costume – parading cats, capes and black tie around the swimming pool in hope of winning a night at the Nordic Club. Needless to say, we did not take part.
However, it certainly made a change to get out of Lalmatia and see a little more of ‘respectable’ Dhaka. Drinks were quite expensive, at 150 Taka for a 330ml can of (naturally) Carlsberg, but it was worth to hear the Swedish DJ playing endless rounds of Abba but staying clear of The Cardigans. It also seems to be that events like this most of the contacts are made between people: VSO volunteers looking for money tend to go along to capture people off guard. We did meet a number of interesting characters: Tim has secured the contact details of a guy working with DFID who came as a Bond villain whilst wearing a Rapid Action Battalion (RAB – Bangladesh’s finest police thugs) T-shirt. Georgia instead got a home-made card by some Danish joker calling himself Dr Love, and also that of the deputy chief of mission at the Egyptian Embassy, a pretty useless collection.
However the night did wear on and it remained rather bizarre and further evidence that expat life is just strange. We thought it prudent to borrow some Vodka and Champagne as it would go to a good cause, and having lost Georgia (a clothed shower in the changing room and a swift but wet rickshaw ride home accounted for her night), Tim and I were able to go back out into Dhaka. Outside the club at what was about 2 or 3 in the morning, crowds of rickshawalas fought with crowds of prostitutes for our business, but one guy that seemed set on a ten Taka fare all the way back to Lalmatia (an hour by bike) was the one for us. It quickly dawned as to why he was so keen for the cheap fare: our bottle of Vodka was his desired prize, and he soon was asking for a bit. We obliged, and then continued along the road with a wala on one hand smoking something pungent, and on the other taking swigs of Vodka as though it were water. There is something about Dhaka that makes drink-driving seem ok, but by the end of the journey we were going very slowly, getting long drunken lectures on the Awami League and his wife. In all he had half a litre of the stuff, and kept refusing the fare (which was to be at least 100 Taka) in exchange for Vodka. We did manage to pay him, and left him contemplating how he was to manoeuvre his large rickshaw, and singing to himself.