It never ceases to amaze me how quickly human beings adjust to things and how well we adapt. We live in almost every conceivable environment on the planet and cope with a variety of circumstances from the richest to the poorest on the planet. We get knocked for six when a natural disaster occurs or when some other tragedy comes our way – but we soon pick up and re-build.
I was pondering such things when we arrived back in Bangladesh yesterday afternoon. After three flights spanning two days and precious little sleep along the way, I figured we would be out for the count by the time we arrived. Well, we were definitely tired but I was surprised just how quickly it felt like we had never left.
It helped that we were picked up by our best friend in Bangladesh and taken to hers for a slap-up meal. We’re staying with her for a couple of days and are very grateful. She has this uncanny ability to make everyone feel comfortable and at peace and, as a result, is friend to most of the ‘Bideshi’ community who all love her to bits. It felt like we had been away not for six months but for years – which is odd because while we in the UK it felt like the six months flew by in six weeks! How two contradictory emotions can be felt simultaneously I don’t know, but there you go. Whilst there place was totally familiar to us, there was this fear that we would not be able to cope with it.
So we were a little bit nervous about going out this morning to do some shopping. It didn’t help that my daughter is on crutches – not the best situation with the crazy roads in Dhaka. Despite our best smiles and the tinsel wrapped around the crutches, we failed to get upgraded on the flights. I have still yet to be offered an upgrade when flying. It seems to happen to everyone else but not me. Obviously my family and I look like we belong in economy class – even with damaged legs. We got no sympathy from the airlines.
There was no chance of sympathy from Rickshaw wallahs and CNG taxi drivers either. We were easy prey – obviously needing lifts and therefore likely to pay more. “Ek sho taka” (100 taka) was the common amount demanded for rides that used to cost just 10. We were always able to haggle to get the cost down but, even so, we were paying 30 taka for most of the time. You may have read my blog about Rafik, a Rickshaw wallah friend and the troubles facing the wallahs in Dhaka now that they are restricted by the police over where they can go. The situation is worse than ever now and so the prices- for bideshis at least – have gone up a great deal. It is hard for them.
My daughter’s knee continues to inflate like a balloon after her accident. The knee just gave way on the dance floor after she gave a performance of a Bangla dance at a Christmas dance party in Whitehaven. She performed well and was just enjoying a disco dance with her mum on the dance floor afterwards when the knee just gave in and she was screaming in agony. A few hours later she left casualty with a nice set of crutches and six weeks of rest ordered. Not what you want when you are about to fly 5,000 miles and live a few days in one of the busiest and crowded cities in the world.
Anyway, we managed and, despite the state of the knee, we travelled the length and breadth of Banani and Gulshan areas of Dhaka to get various goods and supplies needed for living at LAMB up in Dinajpur where there is little opportunity for supplies. We even got in lunch at the club for British people – a final taste of British life for a while.
We have one more day of shopping available and then we begin the epic journey back to LAMB. This will take the whole of Friday to travel and we get just one day to unpack the bags and the house and re-settle ourselves before work begins again on Sunday.
So, this is the beginning of the new adventure in the new year. Back to the people we have called family for the last three years but this time back to finish our jobs. We have two years here and then it will be over. We will have to return to the UK and it will be a long time before we can come out to live in Bangladesh again. Maybe it will never happen? Right from the beginning then, there is a sense of this adventure being about closure, about setting the house in order and about what will we ultimately take away with us when we return to the UK for good.
I wonder what will happen along the way.