• December 17, 2011

    Postcards?

    The postcard seller looks at me blankly

    From which country?

    I am in Bangladesh, the country without postcards.

    The whole village welcomes the Bideshi (foreigners)

     

    That’s a pity. You have to look at postcard views with a magnifying glass, but Bangladesh has its beautiful sides:

     

    · The muezzin sings punctually at 17:15 in Arabic

    · The rickshaw driver curses Rickshastau

    · The travelling merchant sings the goodness of his fish in the alleys

    · The ship’s bow divides the murky waters of the Buriganga

    · The badminton ball jumps in the evening over the illuminated net

    · The doner kebab revolves around its own centre

     

    As a food lover, I immediately fell in love with Dönertiere and grilled chicken on every corner. I like meat and eat very little.

     

    Somewhere in this country, an incredible number of people are starving every day. I certainly did not come to eat someone’s food.

    Nightly badminton in the floodlit park

    Then I eat even less because I’m sick in bed. A Bangladesh visit is probably only complete after a few days of fever and diarrhoea. All you have to do is leave the capital, Dhaka. In the countryside, you then wash down your not-heated meal with a milk tea from a dubious source.

     

    When I’m fit again, I eat normally. I do not see any starving people. I see poor and rich people, fat and thin. I see fruit sellers, tailors, students and booksellers. At first glance, Bangladeshis are hardly different from Indians.

    A shopping mall in Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka

    And Bangladesh is like India without cows. I see

    · Shopping centres

    · parks

    · luxury hotels

    · BMWs

    · a Muslim festival

    · a folk concert at the lake

    · a rock concert on the university campus

     (with Iron Maiden cover song)

    That’s not how I imagined Bangladesh. I even find cheesecake in a fine café.

    You do not only notice missing picture postcards that there are hardly any travellers to Bangladesh. The South Asian curiosity is extremely visible here.

    These monkeys!

    a Bangladeshi comments on the extreme foreign curiosity of his compatriots

    You are everywhere and always stared, addressed, touched. Often enough, one is surrounded by a bunch of staring locals.

    Every jubilee year in Bangladesh you meet another Bideshi. This alien is almost certainly a member of a nongovernmental organization for building the country.

    The most successful export good of Bangladesh seems to be a good conscience next to cheap jeans and cheap t-shirts.

    To be honest, the offer is tempting.