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Good bye Bangladesh…for now

December 1, 2019
Ushonpur – Sunamgonj

My thirst for my motherland has been quenched for a while at least.  This has been pleasant, as I have been on a photography project and visited places and spaces that I have never been too.  I read about the economic development and women’s empowerment compared to its neighbours; to witness it for myself, was great.  In addition, if you can assess the development of a country by the state of their toilets at the airport…I can say that we have a come along way. In earlier visits, I used to be greeted by mosquito infested squat toilets.  I recall one visit, when I went three days without using one.

Staying on the theme of airports, I was really impressed by Sylhet Airport. I recall earlier visits when it was absolute chaos with passengers and people saying good bye and curt officials. These days, only passengers are allowed in the airport and the immigration process is really smooth. I came to Dhaka airport and looked up to realise that it’s now called Hazrat Shahjalal Airport; the Sufi Saint who came from Yemen with his 360 followers in the 15th century to spread Islam. The airport’s name used to be Zia International Airport; Zia was a former Prime Minister with the BNP, the main opposition party….the ruling Awami League could not allow the capital’s airport being named after the former leader of the opposition.  I wonder if they will change the name if they ever make it back to power?

Another sign of progress is the level of structural development work being undertaken. Dhaka has had highways developed to manage the traffic and I am told we are soon to have a metro system. Now that would be awesome…maybe they could also reduce the number of rickshaws that clog up the roads…or is that too much to ask?  How about having specific lanes for different types of transport? Progress has its price, and the crazy traffic jams in Dhaka make it impossible to get to anywhere soon.  However, I am impressed by the innovation as we have Pathao, a motorbike service that cuts through the traffic.  It works the same as Uber, but it can be hairy at times, if you’re not used to being on a motorbike going at break neck speed. 

I am a city dweller in the UK and what I most yearn for in Bangladesh is the Bari in my village. I love its tranquillity….if you can escape the countless relatives that have no concept of personal space that is.  I always try and find hiding places, usually on the roof top, however, it’s never too long before I am joined by a cousin or two one at a time. I guess that’s part of the charm.

This year has been even more special as my mother was in the Bari with me and she followed me around with food…like I was five year old, I guess I am still her baby. I shall miss her and all the other relatives that live and visit whilst I’m there.  I will not miss the all-night Quran recitals played out on loud speakers throughout the night. I will not miss travelling around in Bangladesh….I recall my travel on a coach from Dhaka to Sylhet on a first class seat. I told the coach driver that I may have a first class seat but the roads are third class.  I will miss the fresh food, the savoury and sour snacks and not to mention the ‘five taka’ road side tea’s with condensed milk.

Until the next time!

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