Fixing our car

So... our car was in less than optimal condition when we got it. Functional air conditioning being fairly important in a country as hot and humid as Bangladesh and all. After a lot of dithering about, I finally took it in to get fixed. It needed a replacement compressor. Just like my car in the US less than six months ago. Yay! Luckily, labor is quite a bit cheaper in Bangladesh.

Finding a good mechanic is an interesting process here. Well, it's an interesting process everywhere, but at least in e.g. the US you have aggregated ratings like Yelp (whatever you may think of it), Angie's List, and the like. Not so in Bangladesh - everything is through old-school word of mouth. The most positive recommendation I got was for a Mr Rahman, described as follows: "His name is Rahman. He speaks English, is a very talkative body builder and has never cheated or disappointed me in the 8 years I used him. Please say hello from me."

I was intrigued, so called Rahman. He did indeed speak English (great!). He also insisted that if he were to work on my car, I would need to come myself. As a rule, he doesn't trust drivers enough to want to liaise through them. He claimed honor was very important to him. Maybe I'm a sucker, but I took this to be a good sign.

We ended up driving over around 9 AM. Going to the mechanic (or at least this mechanic) is a pretty different affair in Bangladesh. My visit mostly consisted of be sitting on a couch next to Rahman who was talking my ear off on a variety of topics, occasionally pausing to shout something in Bengali to out of his employees. We were also served tea a couple times, one of them being when Rahman's father stopped by the shop. At another point, his brother (currently an actor on an apparently pretty popular local television show) stopped by with his daughters (who were adorable).

I couldn't quite get a handle on Rahman's life story. He's evidently pretty wealthy now, but said he grew up poor. As far as I could understand, his family had a decent amount of land that, as Dhaka became insanely crowded, eventually became incredibly valuable. I think this is a not too uncommon story. Those lucky enough to have held off selling for quite some time ended up making a killing.

Rahman and I discussed many things (well, I nodded with varying degrees of vigor). Topics included honor, what Rahman valued in life (his mom, his work), how valuable his diamond ring was (this was confusing, because Bangladeshis have special words for large numbers - e.g lakh for 100 000 and crore for 100 lakh), guns (Rahman doesn't own one because he doesn't want to run the risk of getting mad and using it unwisely), Obama (this was interesting), alcohol, women and wives, etc. A lot more entertaining than most mechanic visits. Plus, he complimented my shoes (shout out to Quoddy).

Anyway, our car has working air conditioning now. They hand-washed and buffed the car. Cheap labor has its advantages. Rahman has called a few times to make sure everything is still working okay (how's that for service?).