30 Final Days of Bangladesh – Day 28 – A Thousand Apologies

As I write, we have exactly 48 hours left before LAMB becomes part of our family past rather than our continuing present. My heart is heavy but being lifted by gentle hands.

The country continues in its turmoil although some transport is running again with army protection. 154 of 300 parliamentary seats will be uncontested in the January elections making the whole process almost pointless and as the current 83-hour blockade comes to an end today we wait to see if we have a long, slow journey to Saidpur via vangari or a swift one via car depending on if the opposition party calls yet another long hartal. You can catch up on the ins and out here, courtesy of the Dhaka Tribune. 

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Good food and good company always makes things better

Tomorrow the whole compound and surrounding area will celebrate Christmas and there will be lots of visiting old friends and eating nasta, not just for us but for everyone as per LAMB tradition. For once, the hartals and oborods, which have caused so much mayhem throughout Bangladesh and for LAMB especially, have actually worked in our favour as many of our dearest friends who intended to go to their villages far away for the holiday period were unable to do so. So we have almost everyone who we love here with us tomorrow.

I remember, when growing up in the 70s that Asians were much mocked and abused (sometimes physically, during the punk age especially) and certainly misunderstood in a Britain that saw itself as primarily – and rightfully –  white. Whenever you saw an Indian being portrayed on the TV he would inevitably grovel before his white masters and mutter “a thousand apologies” or something similar. Such an expression remains a term of at least mild mockery for many.

Oddly though, when it comes to leaving, it’s not far from the truth. Without wanting to condone the stereotyping in any way, I was surprised to find in Bangladesh that when anyone left, the one thing they all did – deshi or bideshi – was to apologies for anything and everything they may have done to offend others. It is probably the single most important aspect to a biday. The culture here is so polite that to challenge someone to their face is considered extremely rude. So if you offend someone, the chances are you won’t know about it though others around you might.

One businessman I know has meetings with top bosses where he and they will merely chat and discuss each other’s families and then both will leave and let their PAs sort out the business. This way, if any debates, haggling and shouting are to happen between two companies, neither of the bosses has been involved and no one loses face; they can always remain pleasant with one another and the cursing happens privately. It’s a neat way to do business. If only the two ‘iron ladies’ of Bangladesh could learn from that model and implement it well…

It’s been harder for us to do all this “please forgive me for any offence I may have caused ever” as no one wants to accept this as a genuine ‘farewell’. As far as all are concerned (including us!) we’re just going away for a while and will be back again soon. Nevertheless, we’ll spend tomorrow and the day after doing just that in the hope that when we do return, we will be welcomed back rather than ignored!

Last night was time spent with yet another old friend sitting in furniture that was strangely familiar to us. I guess I should apologise to you who have faithfully read these posts for nearly 30 days. It must feel like you stumbled on Instagram or something as I show you photo after photo of curry and fried snacks!

Thank you for bearing with me and keeping me company through these last days of memories. Now we are sitting on cold floors without furniture and digging clothes out of a single suitcase every day while throwing endless memories away in the form of papers, photos and school work, the last thing we want to be is alone. Just as it’s good to have our friends around us (appalled and saddened as most are that we now have nothing in our house!) so it is good to have more distant friends looking in and reading these ‘thoughts aloud’.

And if you find any offence in them – I apologise.

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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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5 Responses to 30 Final Days of Bangladesh – Day 28 – A Thousand Apologies

  1. Pingback: 30 Final Days of Bangladesh – Day 30 – Goodbye to LAMB, Goodbye to Bangladesh | kenthinksaloud

  2. Muna Haque says:

    To be honest, it is really hard for me to read each word.. when I do so, I see you going further, but I still read each post because by this I know how you really are and what you’re doing…… just trying my best to except the truth – the bitter truth…

    Like

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