I always expected being mugged to look like this:
Unfortunately bideshis (foreigners) are easy targets in Bangladesh as we’re almost guaranteed to be rich in comparison to the vast majority in the country. In Dhaka it is almost a weekly occurrence for someone to be robbed one way or another. We’ve had girls dragged off rickshaws, men jogging held at gunpoint and others dragged into vans and beaten up.
But there are nearly 16 million people living in Dhaka so such things shouldn’t be a surprise and I wouldn’t be shocked to find the statistics for tourists being mugged in London or Paris or New York to be similar. It’s just scary to think about it happening to you. I’m thankful that I have not been mugged in the past and dread it happening to be honest. I didn’t think that day would be today and would be whilst on the journey to Dhaka rather than in it.
I also didn’t expect it to be fun and be able to take photos while it was happening.
But it is quite true. We were approached by a gang which stopped our car, threatened us with a frightening weapon and demanded money – which we gave…willingly. Was it scary? Yes – because it was a HUGE weapon to be thrust right up to your windscreen. Were we safe? Always.
Ok, I’ve had my fun. Here’s what happened -We were stopped by this:
Although both the elephants out on the road were quite small, they blocked the road completely and the trunk prevented any possibility of escape. It was fascinating and the cameras came out as the men riding the beasts and their companions demanded money – all reasonably light-heartedly, of course.
After much laughter and banter, many photos and far too much nasal snot smeared on our windscreen we finally put 10 taka (about 7 pence) on the windscreen for the men to take. They wanted 100 taka but we refused and, eventually, they took the money and moved on to the next car.
It’s actually my first time ever seeing an elephant in Bangladesh. Although my family have managed, somehow, to see elephants before – even on LAMB grounds itself – somehow I’ve managed to miss it on the rare occasions it happens. So this was a real delight to me!
So, I stand by my accusation:
- We were prevented from continuing our journey
- We were physically stopped by something that could have caused us serious damage had it’s rider decided so.
- Money was demanded
Therefore, it was a mugging, as far as I am concerned But one I would happily have every journey to the capital if only to break up the 10 hours of tedium spent in the way-to-expensive car! Seeing the elephants brought smiles to my family and that was worth the little money they extorted from us.
If only all life could be as simple and fun as that!