Veni, vidi, non vici

It was a blessing to move from a sombre hotel to a light flat with a kitchen. The only thing missing was hot water; the boiler did not work. The electrician would be there in half an hour to repair it.

Two hours later I went into the kitchen and prepared a combination of oriental noodles and Bangladeshi lal shag (red spinach). Just when I was halfway cooking, the door bel rang – the electrician and his helper were there. The electrician carried a net, one of those you see usually in supermarkets filled with oranges. Inside the net were a screwdriver, a hammer and a tool of unknown origin. That made me think of the first time we had a plumber in Uzbekistan – many times would follow.  The raggedly dressed man that time carried an old leather briefcase, which upon opening revealed a pair of scissors and a big role of cello tape.

The electrician unscrewed the socket, frowned, and closed it again. Then he opened the fuse box, watched it for five minutes, frowned, and closed it again. He repeated this process approximately five times. He then shrugged, said something which was supposed to be English, but which I could not understand, turned around on his heels and left the apartment, his helper following closely. The boiler still did not work, its orange light sadly staring me in the face without a single glimmer.

My mobile rang; it was the broker telling me, the problem had nothing to do with the electricity. It was the boiler, that had to be replaced. The plumber would come and do that tomorrow in the evening. I went back to the kitchen and finished cooking and eating. Before I went to bed, I mentally prepared for the ice bucket shower. The next morning the little orange light was on; the shower hot as it should be. The leftover noodles were delicious. Tonight they will come and replace the boiler that is not broke. Bangladesh, a country full of miracles.

Lal Shag Noodles

Hotel cooking

In Bangladesh, Singara, a samosa like type of food, is very popular – so popular in fact, that it is served for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack. It is filled with a spicy potato mixture and very tasty (the recipe will follow upon my homecoming) but too much of a good thing is still too much. Being in a hotel forces its limits with regard to food.

Going to a restaurant tends to become less enjoyable after a week or so, but cooking in the room is also impossible. My last night’s solution was “hotel cooking”: mix a lunch leftover portion of rice and beans with a breakfast leftover of pineapple and banana; add slices of sausage stolen from the breakfast buffet and ask the reception for spicy tomato sauce and a plate. Mix well – and voila! chili con carne frío! Enjoy sitting on the bed whilst watching a good film. Just make sure you have the hotel staff change the sheets the next day.

Singara

The first steps to going nowhere

Many people have a purpose in life. Me, I don’t have any goal – I travel aimlessly through time and space. Perhaps I only lost my target, leaving it lurking in the high grass along the side of one of the many roads that I have travelled. But I remain hopeful that I will find it back on one of my future pathways, embodied by nice people, friendship, love, an interesting experience, or world class food.