Monday, April 02, 2007

Brief notes from Bangladesh

Bangladesh is going well. The people are great, the food is fan-bloody-tastic, and the location of this course is a great out of town idyllic retreat-style campus, bougainvillas (is that how you spell it?) and water everywhere.

Some brief notes on Bangladesh:
1. The traffic in Dhaka makes Bucharest seem like a small village with the occasional horse cart by comparison. I didn't see a single bus that wasn't banged up and dented everywhere. The traffic rule is "if you see a gap, take it". That appears to be it.

2. It's really hot and humid. I'm told that Karachi next week will be even worse. The only nice time of day is very early morning. This is a time of day that I often avoid (not actively, but by dint of not getting around to it), but here I have found that I can manage to be around earlyish, most likely because...

3. Everywhere I have so far been is dry. Not dry in the sense of lacking water, since there's an abundance of that, it being basically an entire country situated on the Ganges Delta, but in the sense of being alcohol free. I don't think it's illegal, so it must exist somewhere, but I haven't found it yet.

4. Surprisingly for a fairly traditional Islamic society, the women here seem to have very strong characters and be quite argumentative, while the men seem quite meek and repressed. (Take this comment with the large amount of salt it merits, given that it's a massive generalisation and one which is based upon all of 4 days of casual observation)

5. They have a vegetable here called (something like) Corolla, which is quite possibly the most bitter thing I've ever tasted (even more bitter than Unicum). The first mouthful was quite a shock, but after that I've got used to it, and quite like it. In general the food is really really good - spicy, tasty, interesting, everything you could want from a cuisine. I need to find a Bangla cookbook.

6. Bangladesh are doing well (or at least better than expected) in the cricket world cup and everyone is staying up all night to watch cricket beamed live from the Caribbean. Except that the channel it is on keeps breaking for prayers or news or other unknown (to me) reasons

7. There is something of a political vacuum right now - the election earlier this year was a disaster and ended up in riots and other disturbances. Eventually the army have taken power, which never bodes well, though my participants (who are all teachers and fairly educated and clued in), seem to believe that in general the changes are for the better, and that it's better that there is this period of transition - the army insist they're just there until the new elections can be held, though that will be at least a year, before all the chaos is dealt with - and that the old politicians were all a bunch of corrupt gits anyway. So we'll see.

I'm about to be kicked out of this Internet cafe, so that will have to do for your taste of Bangladesh for the time being


Aurora said...

It feels good to find someone in my town who has done more traveling than me, even if it's an expat :)
However, I can't for the life of me figure out what job you might be doing in places like Nepal or Bangladesh...teaching English? Journalism? Passing down some great wisdom to the locals? I noticed in one of your entries that you're not to keen to talk about it, so I won't ask.
Have a safe trip back!

Andy H said...

It's not that I'm not keen to talk about it, just that I wasn't keen to talk about it to someone accusing me of being coy while posting anonymously.

No, I'm training on workshops designed to strengthen teacher associations (associations of english teachers) in the various countries. Here until Saturday and then on a plane to Karachi to repeat the course there.

gorgeoux said...

Bougainvillea, I think.