The environment at the airport is usually the first indication of what to expect in a country. Enough has already been written in your columns about Shahjalal Int'l Airport -- the dirty atmosphere, inordinate delays, surly staff, chaotic transport, lost luggage, etc., to put it near the bottom of the â€œwelcomeâ€ chart for any traveller.
Last Monday, my wife and I went to receive our daughter-in-law and 7-month-old grand-daughter who arrived at 8 pm after a long flight from Kenya. Five (5) flights arrived simultaneously and the scenes of mayhem inside can best be left to the imagination. We had glimpses of a frail mother trying to cope, with her restive child, hand baggage, purse, etc., while complying with the incessant demands of Immigration. Finally, I approached the â€œkeeper at the gateâ€ to allow me to relieve her of the child at least. I was brusquely dismissed and rudely told to return to the visitors' enclosure. Arrival of unaccompanied women with infants/children is a common sight at all airports, but Dhaka treats them as "terrorist threats." Is having a little supervised corner at Shahjalal, to relieve harassed women of their children, more complicated than the Padma bridge and an affront to women's rights? Oh! Yes!, during the 90 minutes I waited outside, I had a grandstand view of many people just strolling in and out of the 'sanctified' inner sanctum. My mistake was to ask for permission!!