One night in Bangladesh

I intended to stay in Bangladesh for 4-5 days to get a good feel for the place.  But, a bunch of things went wrong with my plan.  Surprisingly, it’s a lengthy process to get a Bangladesh visa.  It took a multiple days.  In addition, a Bangladesh national holiday took place last week, delaying the process even more.  It’s at least a 12h bus ride to the capital of Dhaka (one-way), likely more due to the fog this time of year.  Oh, and there was a interview to get a visa.  An interview?  I haven’t done one of those in years (unless you count some dates I’ve been on).  Do I have to study for this?  What’s going on?

In the end, I got the visa, but only had the time for one night in Bangladesh.  I figured, what the hell.  I’ve never been to Bangladesh.  Nor have I even heard of anyone who has been there.  Sign me up.  Here are a few comments about the country and my experience in it:

– Excluding a few city-states, Bangladesh is the most densely populated country on the planet.  Statistically, it makes India look like the Northwest Territories

– It is a Muslim country just east (and south) of India

– As I’ve learned, on Asian buses, anything goes.  But, this is the first time I’ve seen goats get on.  They hoisted them onto the roof of the bus.  I hope they strapped them down, else the poor animals are sure to fall off.  I’ve been up there — the bus drivers swerve like maniacs, and vehicle’s shocks were done decades ago.  You gotta hold on!

– I was the only tourist in the city I visited (Jessore)

– I’ve been getting really lazy with the camera and somehow have no pictures of Bangladesh.  I need to get back on the wagon.

– It was a very interesting time to be in Bangladesh.  After being under a “state of emergency” for almost 2 years.  This rule was lifted just a few days ago in preparation for an upcoming election.  while I was there, there were many political marches and gatherings.

– The people were extremely nice to me.  On the bus, one local who spoke a bit of english insisted that I should sit in the front of the bus where the ride is smoother because I “was a guest [of the country]”

– Locals stared at me like I was a carnival freak.  As I ate, 10 people would just stand there and watch me.  The guide book warned me this would happen.  Apparently, the most important phrases to learn in the local language are “Yes”, “No”, “Hello”, “Goodbye”, and “Please stop staring at me”.  I decided to engage them.  Since we could not communicate with each other, I just smiled.  At they smiled back.  Crosby, Stills & Nash had it right when they wrote:

If you smile at me, I will understand
‘Cause that is something everybody everywhere does
in the same language.

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