We spent our first day in Bangladesh at the Indian consulate trying to make sure we could get back into India (a matter still in limbo), before exploring the Gulshan neighborhood of Dhaka, littered with expensive homes, and financial and NGO offices.
A recent Indian "anti-terrorist" policy bars most travelers from re-entering within 60 days of their last exit. This keeps tourists from using India as a base to explore nearby countries, or Indians abroad from making emergency family visits after a previous trip. This was big news in India, with the Minister of State for External Affairs criticizing the policy on Twitter, and then facing a barrage of criticism for expressing opinions without going through bureaucratic channels.
Indian officials stated that this will impact very few genuine travelers; turns turns out we're one of them, since we'd been planning to take a side trip to Bangladesh from India with B's dad. Officials also announced relaxation of the rules for genuine travelers, something we double-checked with US and Indian government offices and websites. Our trip was fine, an Indian consular official in Dhaka told us -- all we had to do was get someone at the Dhaka Indian consulate to endorse our re-entry as genuine travelers, per those newly relaxed rules.
We spent several hours of our first full day in Bangladesh at the Indian consulate, trying to get someone who knew what was going on. Folks we spoke to hadn't even heard of the "no re-entry within 60 days" rule, let alone the subsequent relaxation. B had a fit, experiencing massive bureaucratic incompetence that might keep her from being able to go back to the country she grew up in.
B, her dad, and I have since made another visit to the consulate, made several phone calls, and sent some frantic emails. We're cautiously optimistic that we'll be able to work our way through this Indian bureaucratic nightmare to finish our family trip in India, but the situation isn't clear. Our Bangladesh visa runs out in about two weeks, and unless we get permission to return to India, we'll have to cancel our plans and self-deport to a third country.
It's unfortunate that we're having to waste time during our visit to Bangladesh dealing with idiotic policies. We'd promised B's mom and my 93-year-old grandfather that we'd come back and see them; it's misguided policy if this is being put under the category of evil terroristic acts.