Saturday, August 23, 2008

Filling up in Bangladesh

We had to get out of the car whenever we stopped for gas.

No, not because we were cramped and tired from the hours of driving. We HAD to get out of car.

This is because there is a high risk of explosion at Bangladeshi gas stations, our co-worker explained. The drivers of these little CNG's frequently do their own mechanical work and handmade compressors are touchy.

The stations are packed and the wait outside the car can last an hour or more so tiny stores have grown up around the edges of the station that call to customers with streamers of potato chips bags and cartons of sweets on their counters. The stores also offer a ledge which offers protection from the constant rain.

Nothing in the stations is automated. The men taking payments and counting change by hand at a table set up in the explosion zone let me take their picture. This gave them an excuse to stare at westerners. We found further in the south of the country that people felt no need of an excuse.

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