I received a comment from Kay Davies of Canada about Bangladesh. She wrote:
Sally of Retired English Teacher also has a son who lived in Bangladesh."I know I can Google Bangladesh, but it would be great to know Jon's opinion. I know what great people you and Art are, and I'm sure Jon will tell the truth."
I know Jon is very busy right now. However, when I asked him to relate his observations, he took the time to quickly write back his thoughts. (I think it was because it was my birthday at the time.) Here is what he wrote along with some photos he sent:
As for my overall impressions of Bangladesh. I'm always surprised at how much it reminds me of Africa.
There are open sewers, markets selling cheap plastic junk, and incredible poverty. There is choking dust until it rains and then deep puddles and mud everywhere.
The city is congested with streets full of rickshaws, auto rickshaws, motorcycles, buses and cars. The pedestrians dart in and out of traffic and there are basically no lanes. Collisions are a regular occurrence which lead to a lot of shouting and arguing. The sound of honking horns is ever present.
It was nice to be out on the river away from all the traffic noise and exhaust.
(I was so impressed with these photos he took.)
No one particularly likes being in Dhaka, but once you get out into the countryside, it is very different. There is not as much traffic and it is lush and pastoral.
(Doesn't this 7 layer tea look great? I'd sure love to try it. I need to remember to ask Jon if he liked it.)
During the daytime everyone fasts. I am told I don't have to, but I find it better to not eat in front of others who are fasting. I fast, but it is a much shorter fast than everyone else.
The role of women is interesting. You could make the argument that women are making advances, the prime minister is a woman and there are 50 seats in the parliament reserved for women, but in reality, there is complete oppression of women. All women are expected to be completely covered up, even at the beach when swimming, and once married they are allowed few freedoms. It is a very poor situation for almost all women here.
|Map courtesy of Wikipedia|
The current administration has been accused of corruption and oppressing opposition party leaders. The liberation war, fought against Pakistan in 1971 to create the sovereign nation of Bangladesh, was bloody and full of atrocities. Like the American War of Independence, there were those that sided with the rulers, but unlike the US, these people are still alive.
During the last hartal, one of the leaders of a more radical Islamic party was accused of siding with Pakistan during the war and committing atrocities. These trials are surely politically motivated and lead to instability. Add onto this, a very high unemployment rate and a dissatisfaction with the government and it makes for a potentially unstable situation. For us it means being overly cautious during work stoppages and sometimes staying home instead of going to work.
Jon has also told me that he's enjoyed meeting the people of Bangladesh who have been friendly and kind. It's weird to think of my son being so very far away and even a day ahead of us.