Finding Office

On her very first day working with me, Rozy told me that she was pretty sure we’d have our office situation (namely, that we didn’t have one and had no idea how to find one) figured out by the end up the week.

We were lucky to have Swapan Bhai in Dhaka for a few days. First we tried by car. Which turned out to just be a bad idea, because I got nauseous real quick and on the rare occasion that we’d call a to-let sign and they’d actually agree to show it to us (two young girls looking for an office space somehow just doesn’t fly) we’d end up awkwardly parking the car somewhere and paying some random security guard Tk 10 to make sure nobody stole the lights off. Plus the car moves too fast, so I’d scream, Stop! To-Let sign! And Swapan Bhai would brake, but it’d be too late, so we’d awkwardly reverse, and people on the street would honk at us. In a few hours, I was cranky and wanting to vomit. (Rozy’s endlessly cheerful, so far.)

So the second day we headed back, car-less. Rozy and I got in a rickshaw and went this-a-way, Swapan Bhai said he was going to go on foot and went that-a-way. And would you believe it? It actually worked. You can actually find a place to rent just by wandering the neighborhood! However, Rozy and I realized pretty quick that we weren’t going to actually be able to pull this off the two of us, because we’d knock on doors and actually go in and look at spaces, but most people just wouldn’t take us seriously. We’d been warned by other house-hunting experts that this might happen. The one guy that took us seriously enough to ask us what we were going to use the office space for thought the idea was crazy (despite Rozy patiently explaining that no, nobody who is depressed/suicidal/emotionally unstable is going to actually COME there).

But then! Swapan Bhai called, come quick. We hurried over. He had worked some sort of magic – there wasn’t even a to-let sign, how did he know that the space was for rent? It’s quite the mystery. The guard let us in and showed us around. It’s a 4-room office, 1-story, within the same boundary as a residential building, but actually quite it’s own little thing. The sort of space that as soon as we walked in, I knew which room was going to be what. The rent was within our budget. We had to have it.

We got the landlady’s number. But I knew better at this point than to just call her myself. We youngins had had the doors closed in our faces just a little too many times. I’m not typically thrilled to use the parental connections so blatantly, although it’s not that I’m above using them at all. My parents are who they are, and things happen faster because of it, and I know it, and it’s okay, usually. This time was one of the times that it was okay. I couldn’t risk being young and stupid on the phone and not getting the space. So I called Ammu, gave her the landlady’s number, and asked her to help me out. Ammu’s the best, and she happily called me back in ten minutes to let us know that the landlady was thrilled that we wanted it, and I should call her to get things rolling.

Things got rolling. We met the landlady (Or, as we’re for some reason calling her, Landlord Aunty.) We signed the deed yesterday! I have the keys! I put them on the giraffe key ring Rebecca had given me, a product I been saving for this very purpose. I got a little emotional. Just remembering my Carey Lab office keys and thinking about how now I was actually holding keys to our very own office, where Kaan Pete Roi is going to live.

So now NK is getting things out of the house that she’s going to give me, like a kettle to boil water and a pot to make Maggi noodles in, should we get hungry while working. Pranto Bhai is rushing over with a friend to measure the rooms to order us some furniture (ready-made’s more expensive, so we’re having the furniture made from scratch. Only in Bangladesh!) Swapan Bhai is walking around, commenting on things like bathroom fixtures, somewhat cocky – deservedly so! – since he’s the one who found it.

So much help, it is incredible!

On Thursday evening, the last day of the week, we confirmed all the details. Getting ready to head home, Rozy grinned at me. “Didn’t I tell you we’d get it?”

We got it! And now we’re presenting at Team Engine to a group of potential volunteers tomorrow, so let’s see how that goes. Ah, things are moving.


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