It’s been awhile since I posted to this blog. My work has kept me quite busy and life started to seem more or less normal. I had a routine: I played volleyball twice a week, went out to brunch with friends on the weekend, and went shopping at the limited areas we were allowed to go to. It seemed enough. I even organized an Embassy-wide Consular Open House Day that opened our usually closed doors to our colleagues. It was a smashing success and enjoyed by all. Life on the nonimmigrant and immigrant visa lines was booming and I was starting to get the hang of things.
Last Friday, I went to a wine and paint evening that our Community Liaison Office put together. As my beach landscape started to come together, I felt like my body was falling apart. I started aching, and my face felt like it was on fire. I felt removed from the festivities and lethargic. When I got home, I took my temperature – well over 102F. he next morning, I called our med unit. They told me that I should wait another day, and if I still had a fever on Sunday, I should come in. Well, my fever soared that day and night, up to 104F. I took a cold shower at 3:o0am to try to cool off.
I went in to the med unit first thing Sunday morning. My temperature was still about 103F and I felt even worse. They took a blood test, and came back 10 minutes later with the news that I tested positive for dengue fever. The next 6 days are a blur of trying to cool down my fever, taking Tylenol (the only medicine really for dengue), trying to drink excessive amounts of fluids and sleeping. I had planned a trip to Kuala Lumpur due to a 4 day weekend, but unfortunately had to cancel plans as I realized my body wouldn’t be up to par.
Thursday a rash broke out over my entire body. My arms and legs were lobster red and my hands were so sensitive I could barely grip a spoon. I itched like mad. However, this is a good development since it signalled the end of my dengue. I rested Friday all day as well, and a friend reached out to me to see if I wanted to go to our favorite restaurant, Holey, the next day. I told her it sounded like a great idea and that I hoped I’d be well enough for a well deserved brunch.
Friday evening, I was lounging in bed and scrolling through FaceBook. One of our Dhaka groups posted something that came up on my newsfeed – they reported shooting near Holey, the restaurant I’d planned to go to and one I went to nearly every week. I texted some of my colleagues to see if they had heard anything, and they had not. Most were out of the country on vacation due to the Eid holiday. I continued to read the comments to the post with growing horror.
About 15 minutes later, a call came out from the Embassy that said there was a shooting at Holey and a possible hostage situation. The news become more horrific as it unfolded. A colleague who lives in my building came down and we poured over Al Jazeera, CNN and BBC, trying to clean some more information. I fell asleep around 2:00am, still waiting for news on who the hostages were and what was happening.
This morning I woke up around the time when the siege was ending. My colleague and I heard gunfire and several explosions outside. More news is coming out on who was involved, and Embassy staff has been instructed to stay put, so I’m trying to stay as calm and productive as possible while we wait for more news.
Holey was the first restaurant I ate at in Dhaka. I remember thinking “with places like this, Dhaka is going to be just fine”. It’s impossible to reconcile that oasis with the horrors that have happened in the past 24 hours. My thoughts are with those affected by this tragedy.