“I’d die of loneliness,” sighed my Bangla teacher as she surveyed my one bedroom rooftop flat in Mohammadpur – an area located far south of Dhaka’s expat hotpot of Gulshan. There followed an awkward silence: I was overjoyed by the very surroundings that so repelled her, but feared she’d write me off as an eccentric if I listed the benefits – chiefly, solitude. Amina and I continued the lesson without any further mention of my solo residential status, but I mulled over her remark for a long time after my class ended.
My new friends and colleagues often ask about my living arrangements in Bangladesh – when I say that I live alone, this response has raised a multitudes of eyebrows.
“Aren’t you lonely?”
“Do you get bored?”
“Are you afraid?
No, no and sometimes, I answer – respectively.
However an increasing number of young Bangladeshis, both male and female, regard my independence with varying degrees of envy – and at least a dozen of them have asked me to help them find a place of their own – but it’s a tough task for a foreigner who needs a million more Bangla lessons. For reasons either unknown or unpalatable to me, at present, it appears that the majority of Bangladeshi landlords are incapable of trusting Bangladesh’s young unmarried adults.
My third flat with a great living room and tiles to die for – Gagan Shirish in Panthapath I’ve heard some particularly sad tales about the way landlords tend to treat Dhaka’s bachelors, regardless of whether the bachelor in question is financially independent and responsible (for example, a friend of mine who is responsible enough to write for the nation’s leading English language newspaper and is definitely cashed up enough to pay a deposit). Some of my male friends believe that as a bachelor, their chances of securing a rental property are about as high as a convicted petty criminal!!
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed living alone in Dhaka for the past six months. It was...