Our first deshi biday dawat has just taken place. There’s a lot of Bangla there that sentence! A dawat is the usual term for an invitation. Bangladeshis love to invite others round for food. Unlike westerners who tend to prefer small gatherings of just one or two people for dinner and call larger gatherings ‘parties’, Bangladeshis tend not to differentiate. I think this is pretty much because the nature of curry is that you throw ingredients into a large pot and let them bubble away forever and the number of guests has little bearing on that. If anything, it’s easier to cater for larger numbers.
As it happened, our first one from a deshi - a national rather than foreigner – which was a biday or farewell, was with the same woman I introduced to you on day two. Dawats happen almost without notice (again, very different to the West where dinner invitations are often meticulously planned weeks in advance). I’ve had wedding invites from Asians twice just this week for their special events taking place in a month or less – again something not very normal in the West! Unfortunately we’ve had to turn down both. Bideshis don’t always manage this impromptu state of affairs well and so the other bideshis invited to this dawat couldn’t come on short notice. I’m pleased really because there’s just no way we could all have crammed into that one small room and eaten on the bed!
In just two days, our friend had sorted out the shelves we’d given her and hooked them up to the wall with rope, thanks to conveniently placed holes that were already in the wall. No one is more inventive than a Bangladeshi villager.
It was a delicious meal. You just can’t buy food like this in a restaurant anywhere in the world and I’m going to struggle without my banglar torkari.
All the while, our young friend served us (Bangladeshis don’t eat with you generally but eat what’s left after you’ve gone) and even chopped apples on a boti – without looking at the very sharp blade for most of the time. I’ve seen our ayahs do this countless times and it still scares the willies out of me every time.
After the meal we popped down to Surola’s village to walk off our full bellies. Though we came unannounced and deliberately didn’t stay long, they made us lal cha which, I confess, I was secretly hoping they would. I’m cheeky like that.
Once there, we discovered the village had just taken on three dogs – puppies right now and absolutely adorable.
Bangladeshis have a love/hate relationship with dogs. Many hate them and mistreat them. Others use them as guard dogs to protect property. Only a few actually love them as Brits tend to and take them in as pets. Even then, they serve a functional role as guard dogs too – no living thing is purely ornamental in this country.
You see a lot of stray dogs in Bangladesh yet despite being just as territorial as western dogs towards one another, they all seem very docile and submissive towards humans. These dogs are unfailingly loving towards anyone who will show compassion towards them and never think of biting when being beaten – which happens a lot.
Ok so this one is biting wifey’s finger but that’s different!
Dogs die easily, however. Despite love and care from the villagers, we’ve seen more puppies die – often slowly – and dogs be killed by accident or disease over five years than I care to see in the remainder of my lifetime. Life is hard for Bangladeshis. It’s harder for animals.
- 30 Final Days of Bangladesh – Day 0 (kenthinksaloud.wordpress.com)
- A Day out in Bangladesh – Life in a Santal village, Rangpur (kenthinksaloud.wordpress.com)
- 30 Final Days of Bangladesh – Day 3 – Ayahs and Vangaris (kenthinksaloud.wordpress.com)
- The Dawat Diaries: Episode 3 & 4 (mybigfatpakistaniwedding.com)
- Dispatches from India 2: On Hiring Domestic Help in India (3quarksdaily.com)
- On Halloween, in Sylhet (or, Three B’deshis in Search of a Pumpkin) (themeantimedash.wordpress.com)