Monday, August 26, 2013

How I Lived in Bangladesh

Let us be honest – this was NOT a love at first sight. And frankly, definitely not at second glance either. It was, however, a love affair after all, and one to remember for life. As many of you know, I have just left Bangladesh after a brief 2-year stint and after some reflection, am ready to pontificate and extrapolate on my life there.

Bangladesh is not an easy place to live but it has probably some of the best people in the world. The country hits you at the airport – by smell, at first; then by color; by everyone staring at you while you are at the passport control line and later on, at the luggage belt, which typically takes about an hour before a single bag appears (yours comes last, for sure). But if you smile wearily at the border police officer who reviews your passport and wish him a good day, he will immediately bust out in an enormous smile and wish you the same. This is how the entire country is – Bangladeshis are the friendliest, most welcoming and helpful people I have ever met in my life. If you need help on the street, everyone in plain sight (and their multiple relatives 5 minutes after he calls them) will come immediately to help you. They will help even if they do not know how or have the slightest clue what they are doing. The point is – they are ready and willing. If you meet a new person and chat him or her up, within less than 5 minutes they will get your phone number and within less than a week will invite you over their house. There, you will meet their good friends, each of whom will talk to you, truly interested in what you have to say; they will listen to you, ask you a million questions about you, your family, your job, your life and in return, share the same. Then, they will invite you to their own, and before you know it, you will know half of Dhaka. And these will not be casual, one-time visits or acquaintances. These turn into beautiful friendships with people on whom you can rely for everything. Everything.

I miss Bangladesh viscerally. I miss it every single day. Naturally, above all, I miss my many friends there. But I also miss so many other things. I miss the simplicity of life. I miss the mess on the streets. I miss the restaurants that are so few that I know all of them and I know I am guaranteed to meet a friend wherever I end up for dinner. I miss my colleagues. I miss playing tennis at the clubs (I do NOT miss the clubs though). I miss speaking Bangla. I miss dohi fushka. I miss wearing sarees. I miss the fashion shows and the garish makeup I’d wear. I miss everyone smiling. I miss the staring! I miss the heat!! I simply miss Bangladesh.

Yes, I had a love affair with Bangladesh and just like any other relationships, ours had many ups and downs. That means simply that our affair is enduring and will continue evolving. I know I will be back there again, it is simply a matter of time. For the time being, all our lovely friends must come over and visit me. As of a week ago, I have now officially returned home. It is good to be back for I have missed you too, my lovely United State of America!


  1. Where are you guys going next?!

  2. Your blog is fantastic, thanks! We're moving in early January to Dhaka from DC, and have been reading a bunch of these great FSO blogs. I saw your post about getting approached with a shortish skirt on...if you see this, what did you wear to work (knee-length pencil skirts, sleeveless Tahari work dresses)? Or does it have to be pants?

  3. Frankly, you can wear anything to work. I sure did. It is all about your own comfort level. Pants all the time is boring. And hot. I really overdid it that day with the flimsy little dress I had on. But work is a different issue. Tahari is just too thick for the Dhaka climate. Think cottons and linen.

  4. Thank you so much