I’ve written many times on the blog about my fear of the encroachment of the West on Asia – Bangladesh in particular. I have never believed that I came to Bangladesh to ‘help the poor’. I always knew Bangladesh would help me more.
Seven years later I still believe that and I am grateful for the many blessings this country and its people have given me.
So I hate it when I see the greed, selfishness and pride of the West becoming virtues to be obtained by the rising middle class here. Recently, the Press have been following semi-‘amusing’ story of a particularly affluent area of Dhaka – Baridahara – having banned Rickshaw wallahs from wearing lungis. Lungis are a traditional dress worn by working men and most Bangladeshi men of any class will wear them in the comfort of their own home. For men, lungis are the single item of clothing that best typifies the national dress. But affluent and ‘West-influenced’ Baridhara feels such clothing is not decent. Only trousers will do.
Personally, I’ve never wanted to wear a lungi – I’m too British for it and find it looks way too much like a skirt to cope with. Sorry! Nevertheless, after reading how Rickshaw wallahs could no longer ply their honest trade in this area for the sake of ‘decency’ I was appalled and tempted to play the ‘white shahib’ card by buying and wearing a lungi and marching straight to Baridhara to see if the guards would dare refuse my entry. I’d probably get in, to be honest so I’m not sure how effective such a protest would have been.
Thankfully, I got beaten to it by the people who would do it much better themselves – the Bangladeshi youth.
An excellent blog – Alal o Dulal – ran this story last week. Have a quick read now:
I couldn’t support this movement more than I do. With Islamic fundamentalists attacking the very nature of what it means to be a Bangladeshi from one side and the West continuing to beat the message of “West is Best” on the other side, I truly do fear that all I believe to be good about this country will disappear over the next few decades. But I can’t do anything about it – it is not my country and not my place. All I can do is observe and write about what I observe; and really that is more for the benefit of Westerners than for my Bangladeshi readers.
So I am pleased to see young men and women standing up for their rights and for their culture. May it continue and may they be successful. Without my help, of course, as it should be.