30 Final Days of Bangladesh – Day 4 – Dawats and Dogs

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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.

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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 twoDawats 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!

Room for four on the bed...just

Room for four on the bed…just

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.

There's our shelves! No glue or nails needed...

There’s our shelves! No glue or nails needed…

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.

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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.

How cute?

How cute?

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.

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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.

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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14 Responses to 30 Final Days of Bangladesh – Day 4 – Dawats and Dogs

  1. Pingback: 30 Final Days of Bangladesh – Day 16 – A celebration, not a Goodbye | kenthinksaloud

  2. Pingback: 30 Final Days of Bangladesh – Day 6 – Bread on the table | kenthinksaloud

  3. Norah says:

    The problem with dogs… I don’t know about the part of Bangladesh where you live, as there are people of different religions there… but in Islam it’s actually prohibited to keep dogs as pets… also there’s something about impurity. I don’t know the details but you’ll see like all over the world Muslims (maybe not all but you get the point) always make sure they don’t come in contact with dogs.

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    • Yes, you’re right Norah – and it does cause issues as a result. In our area there are a lot of tribal and Hindu Bangalee people so you see more pets. However, I also know Muslims around the country who keep them as guard dogs. I recently watched a Muslim woman washing her huge Alsatian dog on the roof of their apartment block by throwing buckets of water over the beast from a distance! She wouldn’t touch the animal but she did wash him!

      What I find odd, however, is just how many stray dogs there are. For a country which is predominantly Muslim and so doesn’t want dogs around, I would have thought dogs would, over the years, be wiped out – especially as they die so easily anyway. Yet, all over the country, I see dogs roaming freely. I haven’t figured out why yet – it can’t just be that dogs breed so quickly they can’t be contained.

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      • Norah says:

        You can’t just kill off animals for no reason… that’s also in Islam. I mean even if we’re not allowed to touch them, that doesn’t mean we should treat them badly. But I doubt that’s the reason they’re still around in Bangladesh, I’m sure that wouldn’t stop the people from wiping them out. But yeah I do find it interesting… like the dogs here in Sweden sometimes come after you and want to smell you and stuff… but in Bangladesh they behave almost like wild cats do here (shy away from humans).

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        • No I certainly wouldn’t want to suggest that of Islam! But my meaning was that where certain kinds of creatures are not wanted, they tend not to flourish and are seen as pests. No one wants rats around, to my knowledge, anywhere in the world! Similarly with dogs in a country where these animals are not liked. I’m just surprised how many there are really.

          I disagree with your thought about dogs shying away in Bangladesh though Norah. I can’t say for certain as I’m not expert on different areas but they seem to be out and about all over the country and like humans. As I say, they seem docile and very friendly (except for the guard dogs anyway!). Unfortunately, it is a common occurrence to see them beaten with sticks though. Most horribly I remember seeing a puppy deliberately pushed under a car’s wheels when it came waddling up to a stranger in the street in Dhaka. It was a heart-breaking moment I will never forget.😦

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  4. looks delicious. you’ll miss it.
    best wishes
    doug

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  5. renxkyoko says:

    Sad about the pet dogs too. Our pet dog is the king in our house ! ! * shakes head*

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