Amar Shonar Bangla
Being the last National event before my departure, it was fitting that the New Year celebrations would last more than one day. On passing the local park last night, I ‘moth-ed’ inside, attracted by the bright lights, the loud noises, and the unmistakeable smell that exclusively accompanies a conglomeration of people in a hot, sweaty environment. This, it turns out, was a fair, but not wholly recognisable as what I’m accustomed to.
There were the usual stalls selling the sort of items that one struggles to give away at raffles, or that one re-gifts (sometimes, accidentally, to the person who gave it to you in the first place); there was a ride that people would sit in, and go round in circles (think of a miniature version of the London Eye, but completely powered by three guys who would push the structure around); a stage on which anyone who fancied a dance would perform to their favourite song in front of an audience (I was asked to perform, but they didn’t have any Westlife, and I’m not sure how to dance to Disney theme tunes); and an unstable, rickety, wooden structure they used for a Motorbike-wall-of-death performance (though I strongly suspect that I was in more danger than the rider himself).
Being there by myself, I was a sitting duck for approaches from curious people. One conversation started promising enough, then quickly crashed and burned:
“Hey, you look like Jason Statham”
“Really? Thank you so much”, I blushed, “Why do you say that?”
“Because you’re white, and have no hair”
Amazingly, another guy started a conversation the exact same way, but without the crushing insult to follow – he was nice enough.
Today, finally, was my last full day in Bangladesh. When I first arrived, I had tea in the local stall, and ate some dodgy food in a local restaurant. Tonight, we did the same. I always liked stories that ended up doing a full circle. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t violently sick the last time though. Perfect timing eh?
It’s been a helluva ride but, despite the complete lack of organisation, guidance, assistance, and personal boundaries, and despite the corruption, extortion, theft, and harassment, I’ve actually really enjoyed it, and I will genuinely miss a lot here. I fully intend on coming back at some time in the future, be it for weddings, visits, or just to see what changes have taken place but, for now, let me stroll on into the sunset with the National Anthem playing in my mind “Amar shonar Bangla…..”
Until next time. “Abar decka hobe amar bhondu”
p.s. As I pack, I notice that I’ve overstayed my Visa so there may well be another Bangla adventure ahead of me in the airport tomorrow, before I begin chapter 2 in Nepal :-s