On Being Busy in Bangladesh

Life is pretty hectic at the moment.

It’s a good hectic; a good busy-ness, if you like. But hectic none the same.

If you are a blogger then you may have noticed less comments from me and more ‘Likes’ – if you get one of these it means “I really enjoyed your post and I wish I had time to say more”. If you do actually get a comment from me too then considered yourselves well honoured! I must have really liked your post. Even pressing ‘Like’ has been a challenge recently as our internet has obstinately refused to work well for the last week.

For the rest of my readers, you will have noticed I’m posting less often. This is because I’m writing more often and just not getting the chance to get to the blog more than once or, at most, twice a week. Instead I’m busy with articles, reviews and Masters degree essays which are taking most of my attention. I seem to spend my life researching at the moment.

And things are looking set to get busier.

The publisher I mentioned recently has had my manuscripts for several weeks and, amazingly, is still talking about going ahead and publishing. He wants to ‘move things on’ before February is over so hopefully I’ll find out soon if our relationship is going to work out and I’ll see a book (or even two) in print before too longer. I’m still preparing myself for the ‘catch’. I can’t help but feel that I’ve walked into this far too easily…

As I write, we’re just packing our bags as a family to hit Dhaka in time for the Ekushe National holiday tomorrow. Thing II will see some friends and have a little birthday party on Friday and we’ll pick up some much needed supplies from the supermarket.

At the same time I’ll be picking up a friend from Sweden who is coming to stay for a couple of weeks. I’ve never met her before and, in fact, she is the friend of a blogging friend so it is going to be most unusual! She seems really keen to learn more about bangladesh and I hope I can provide the experience and information she’s after. It will certainly be a very interesting time!

And what interesting times I seem to live in at the moment.

I hope to write a post soon (maybe even this week whilst in Dhaka?) about the political situation in Bangladesh at the moment. For now, all I say is that the current ‘Shahbhag’ movement has gained incredible momentum from the War Criminal trials going on. There is no doubt that history is being made here (though the world’s press is barely acknowledging it) though it remains to be seen whether or not this country is going to ascend to peace or descend to civil war. I pray it is not the latter.

And with all that going on, is it any wonder I wish sometimes that the world could stop so I can get off?

In a sense, as of today, that is just what I am doing. I have just come from a meeting with the ‘powers that be’ to discuss my immediate future at LAMB.

Today sees the end of a chapter of my life and marks the beginning of a new one as I’ve had it agreed that I will stop teaching at LAMB school over the next few months. All being well, this means that apart from supply or a little part-time teaching for fun when I return to the UK, I won’t be going back to the classroom as a career again. That’s certainly the aim and I will appreciate the time freed up to do all this writing that is booking up!

I may be eating my words this time next year though, of course, so we’ll have to see just what happens!

Anyway, I’m increasingly finding that writing is, in many ways, just like wages: The more wages you get, the larger the bills become. Similarly, the more time I get to write, the more writing needs to get done and I’m still chasing my tail trying to keep up and ‘wishing I had more time’.

It was apt then, that I found this on Facebook this morning and I share it with you as my final thought for today:

 

I’m nearly forty-two and I’m still trying to figure out how to escape this. If you have any ideas do let me know.

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About D K Powell

British freelance journalist, author, writer, editor, musician, educational consultant. I lived with Wifey, Thing I (daughter) & Thing II (son) in Bangladesh for 5-6 years working for an NGO called LAMB. Wifey led the Hospital Rehab department and I used to teach O levels at the school before going full-time as a freelance writer in 2013. Now we're back in the UK learning how to be British again. When not writing or editing, I'm busy trying to complete a Masters degree in Intercultural relations in Asian Contexts and reading way too many books at once. I also drink tea - lots of it.
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19 Responses to On Being Busy in Bangladesh

  1. sarsm says:

    As well as busy, it must be a very emotional time for you too!

    Like

  2. Pingback: Justathirdculturekid – Flower of Hope | kenthinksaloud

  3. Becca Haque says:

    I think it’s pretty sensationalist to say that Bangladesh would descend to civil war. Though I am the first to acknowledge the movement’s significance in our short history as a nation, given the fact that the movement is largely about achieving closure on our bloody history, I doubt that there will be accompanying violence- beyond, of course, the desperate attempts of the Jamaat party to retain any kind of legitimacy they think they have. Bangladesh does have, in its politics, a lot of internal strife. However, this movement is being expressed so largely through art, music and theatre, I really don’t see how it can be framed as a catalyst for a civil war.

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    • I would love to believe you are right Becca, but I don’t think you are capturing the mood of the nation even if you are expressing the hope of the Shahbhag movement itself.

      The problem is – and I take this from the Bangladesh news and from the countless Bangladeshi blogs commenting on this moment – everyone is ‘getting in on the act’. It is not enough that this movement is expressing itself peacefully – it wants the death sentence for war criminals and the removal of the Jamaat party. This party has repeatedly brought the country to a stand-still over the last year or so and this indicates just how strong the support for the party is. There have been numerous clashes and deaths even before the Shahbhag movement arose. I don’t think we can just pass the party off as having no legitimacy.

      For the first time there is a concerted and relatively united movement against the Jamaat and I would say there is a very real fear this will spill into widespread violence. I believe this is because of two opposing views on what it means to be Bangladeshi and what it means to be Muslim.

      I don’t think it is sensationalist – there have been at least three times in the last forty years when, effectively, civil war has momentarily come to the country. In each case the situation has calmed relatively quickly. I fear that will not happen here.

      Like

      • Becca Haque says:

        Why is it so unimportant that the movement is expressing itself peacefully? It’s all-important. Of course we’re calling for the death sentence and the removal of the Jamaat party. Bangladesh has the death sentence, and these criminals have been convicted of crimes that call for it. And yes, we want the removal of Islamist politics (one of my favourite slogans – “dhormo jar jar, rashtro shobar” – religion is personal, state is everyone’s). But the way this movement is being done says, we’re not going to go and be violent.
        Jamaat has no strength as a political party. They will never win through democratic election, and this was true well before Shahbag, having had only 3% of the vote in the last election. Their tactic has always been to cling to BNP, and of terror – they publicly beat up police, burn cars, rastai bhangchur kore. But now that fear has fizzled. No one is afraid of them anymore. Children are running on the streets, shouting for Jamaat to get out. Yes, in a worst case scenario, there will be violence. One of Shahbag’s activists has already been murdered, and Shahbag’s protesters do not hesitate in calling for justice for him (although no one’s asking for hartals and smashing car windows). I’m not sure how much violence it takes to call something “civil war.” But these will be acts of desperation on Jamaat’s part, and it is easy to see that it won’t get them anywhere. No one is afraid anymore, and no one (not just Awami Leaguers – Shahbag is a apolitical group, one that will shout Joy Bangla but not Joy Bangabandhu) will let Jamaat do anything in this country. Also, “numerous clashes and deaths” have nothing to do with legitimacy. I could cause numerous clashes and deaths if I wanted to. That doesn’t give me legitimacy as a political party.

        It sounds like we’re going to have to agree to disagree, except of course in hoping that your prediction is wrong! I’m curious to read your promised post on Shahbag.

        Like

        • Be careful not to put words in my mouth. I didn’t say it was not important that the Shahbhab movement is expressing itself peacefully – it is very important indeed! I said it is not enough. The demands the moevement are making are the strongest demands ever made against the Jamaat and there is no way the Jamaat could not act aggressively against this – no matter how peaceful the Shahbhab movement might be. My point is that violence would ensue.

          In fact, over the last 24 hours, my fears have been very much confirmed as the Jamaat have done just what I thought they would – and worse actually!

          I still fear that the Jamaat’s actions will be far from “acts of desperation”. They can, will do and have already called on what the press call “like-minded Islamic parties” to join them in action. Action which resulted in around 1,000 injured last night around the country. Jamaat themselves have threatened ‘civil war’.

          That said, I want to say that I don’t wish to ‘agree to disagree’ with you! I think your points are well-raised, very valid and full of hope for what Shahbhag could mean to the future of Bangladesh! I just ask for a little room here that I express my fear that things could still go either way. Two days ago I was doubting myself as you began this correspondence. The press was full of shahbhag this and shahbhag that. The Jamaat seemed on the run. I began to think you were right and I had overstated the situation for the worst. Last night though, a friend of mine got caught in the cross-fire of the very real, very dangerous ire of the Jamaat and their supporters. He was lucky to escape unharmed. Others didn’t.

          This whole moment in Bangladesh’s history has got a long way to go before we will know how it plays out. I, like you, still hope for a brighter future to arise from it.

          I’m writing my post now and hope to have it up soon – please do comment on it Becca. I’ve valued your contributions here. 🙂

          Like

  4. I’m glad you wrote about being ‘good’ busy and ‘good’ hectic, as I find too often that many people only really express ‘bad’ busy and ‘bad’ hectic life-styles. I always find, that when a chapter is about to end in my life, there is a one mad rush to tie up loose ends – I feel the same is about to happen or is happening as I write this comment.

    I think, as well as everything else you wrote, your final thought for the day is an interesting one. I was once asked a question by a very spiritual man “do you work to live, or, live to work” and at the time I was 13 and 15 years on I still haven’t answered it. One thing I have decided to do is to diversify my income into to multiple income streams – this has proved to be extremely rewarding as it’s brought about a little fire-to-succeed inside me, giving me that courage to dare myself into new ventures, new territories, new adventures and new experiences. I hope, in another 5 years time (when I reach the grand age of 35) I can retire, and do what I want, go where I want to go, with who ever I want to go with without worrying about the finances or giving myself some security.

    Like

    • I envy your drive to be self-sufficent by the time you are 35! I’m nearly 42 and never managed it 😦

      That said, I actually don’t crave it too much – I’ve enjoyed the life I’ve led and the work I’ve done and that, in the end, is what is most important.

      Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to being self-employed again (I was, very successfully for me, for eight years long ago) and would like to hope that I can put enough aside that eventually I can stop having to produce an income and can go where I like, when I like – there is still so many places I want to explore and learn about. I would be nice if I wasn’t too old to enjoy them!

      Like

  5. Tracy B says:

    End of an era then! Well – only in a way – teaching is, at its best. a vocation. I think a teacher is what you ARE Mr FP and whether you teach in a classroom, or through your books, in conversation, through your blog … in my living room (My kids constantly say the should be allowed to stay off school when you visit because a day with you is FAR more educational than a day at school!) … the teaching will go on, the WORLD is your classroom baby! 🙂

    Like

  6. jacqui7272 says:

    Can’t believe you’re virtually giving up teaching!! I suspect the classroom will be a duller place without you. Having said that I can’t wait to read your books when they get published 🙂

    Like

    • Thanks Jacqui – I can’t wait to get the book(s) published! As for ‘virtually’ giving up teaching – yeah well we’ll see how the writing goes next year to decide just how far that will be! 🙂

      Like

  7. “Normal”?!!! Sounds a bit abnormal, doesn’t it?! I think I’d start from there and let the brain figure it out! I personally would do nothing, brain will settle this!
    [last words before “entering” the asylum!]
    🙂

    Like

  8. Rinth says:

    Even though the mere thought of going to Bangladesh doesn’t provide me which much more than the image of my vulturish relatives waiting to eat me alive, I still wish I was there with Rebecka and and got a chance to meet you and your family, and of course to get a real life glimpse of the work you do and the lives you lead. *sighing expression*

    Like

    • I wish you were coming too Rinth! It’s not too late to hop on that plane and join us you know! Otherwise, we’ll just have to hope that I succeed with writing so much that I can justify coming out to Sweden one day and visit my two favourite Swedish girls there! 😉

      Like

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