Wednesday, December 17, 2008


There is a Bengali word, Khaislot, which means character but with a snide touch. You hear it used a lot in the same sentence as politicians, for example. In the thirty years I was abroad, the Khaislot of many a Bangladeshi added one characteristic that I wish it had not.

It is the unwillngness or utter inability of admitting a mistake.

Take tonight for example. On the way home I stopped at the furniture store where our old rocking chair was being repainted. A cursory glance showed that the arms of the chair had rough patches on the paint which looked like someone's fingerprints on wet paint.

But the guy would not admit a mistake! He kept insisting that it was ok, it was not a problem. His final stand - the closest to admitting the mistake - was that it would be fine, no problem, because the roughness would eventually smooth out.

Of course I did not accept it. He then tried to sandpaper it but that messed up the paintwork, so he has more work to do.

Reminds me of another incident right after we had arrived here. We bought air conditioners form a reputable company and they sent people to install them. The remotes for the ACs had their own remote control "holders". These holders were designed to be bolted to the wall. Each holder had two holes and came with two screws for bolting them.

(The reason you need two screws is because if you bolt it with just one, it will not stay in one place, but move left and right with every nudge.)

Well, I noticed the guy going around the house bolting the holders with only one screw. When I asked him why he was not using two, he said, "But sir, if I use two, I might make a mistake and not align it perfectly, so it will always look ugly. With one, even if it is a little misaligned, you can nudge it a little and align it. See, like this."

I think that was the closest I came to slapping someone here. I really really wish Bangladeshis learn to own up when they make a mistake and not insult others' intelligence.


Shafqat Ahmed said...

Good Observation! Its really hard to get quality and professionalism out of Bangladeshies.

ulysses said...

Hi Shafqat,

Thanks for your comment.

Many people here are sincere and professional in their dealings (a higher percentage in the villages than in cities - but you have to speak the right language for the villagers.) Maybe even the vast majority. But every so often I run into a bad apple that makes me so mad that I want to bang my head on the wall. Last night was such a case. Not meant to cast aspersions on the hard work that most people here do day after day just to make ends meet.