Jeroen and I had a chance (as Kamworks) to visit the thriving solar energy scene in Bangladesh. We made many friendships and connections through our visits to various solar companies, factories and projects like the famous Grameen Shakti for example.
Here are some more thoughts from inside smog encircled Dhaka:
Pedal power still dominates small scale transport. Where other areas in asia have moved to tuktuks, auto-rickshaws and motorbike taxies, cycle carts, cycle remorque, and especially cycle rickshaws dominate Bangladesh.
Dhaka is bumper-car central. It isn't a question of avoiding bumps – it's more of preparing for the inevitable. 90% of vehicles are suped-up with additional bumper guard bars, perfect for the rush hour smack. Buses get it the worst – there is no point repairing them anymore. Scrapes and bumps line the side of busses and the corners are all beat in.
In tribute to the hilarious blog, Stuff Expat Aid Workers Love, Bangladesh EAWs love their elite membership clubs. There's a club for everything – golf club, officer's club, flying club, ladies club, and of course every country's club – American club, Dutch club, Scandinavian club, Canadian club, international club (you name it!). A non-alcoholic country with limited night-life culture and the near non-existent tourism industry has driven the expats to near colonial era proportions. Refuge from the poor countryside and dirty cities forces EAWs to congregate in the security and luxury of member only clubs. Have a nice imported beer and a pleasant swim!
Despite the horrendous pollution, past the traffic-choked streets and amongst the overpopulated residences, people are very open about a life of tough experiences with glimmers of hope for the future.