Is it what I imagined?
I wrote in a previous post about assumptions and stereotypes and whether these helped or hindered a traveller’s journey to a country like Bangladesh. I anticipated the crowds, the poverty, the lack of development. But the question remains: Is it what I imagined?
Yes, it is chaotic in the cities. Yes, there are throngs of people everywhere you go. Yes, you get stares – plenty of them. Yes, there is extreme poverty and desperation. Yes, the electricity is touch and go. Yes, you don’t see that many women in the cities, and when you do they are clothed in shalwar kameez (traditional pants and long, loose tops) or saris with an orna. And yes, curry is a staple food, in various forms.
I didn’t anticipate the noise of the prayer calls and the constant beeping of horns. I didn’t anticipate the eerie darkness of Dhaka at night with buildings barely lit. I didn’t anticipate the active begging and the open giving of money to strangers.
However, I also didn’t expect the warm, friendly, smiling faces that greet us wherever we go. The curious look and wonder of “what are these people doing here?” quickly turns to a smile and an attempt to get into the frame of the picture.
I didn’t expect the open spaces of farmland. For a country with over 160 million people, squeezed in at a rate of 1200 people per square kilometre (compared to Australia’s 3), I thought every spare spot would be utilised and densely populated. It amazes me that less than 5 minutes from a city you find scenes like this:
…and only a little further on you see this:
I didn’t expect to see markets bursting with vegetables and all kinds of produce. Some of the food we saw in Dhaka looked incredibly fresh.
So yes, there are things I expected, but there are so many surprises too. I feel incredibly safe and am humbled by the warmth with which many people greet us, this strange trio of Australians.
I have only scraped the surface so far on this fascinating country. A country which is “gorgeously green yet swamped with people; a rural wonderland that’s laden with waterways, peppered with little villages and bursting with humanity.” – Daniel McCrohan, Lonely Planet writer.
Come travel with me and we will continue on this journey…
x Sonia x