For some reason, I had expected to be followed constantly by Bangladeshi people while traveling through the country on my own. In a way, I would be right, but at the same time, also very wrong. During my stay in this beautiful and often forgotten country - until a cyclone, flooding, or other disaster comes along, that is - I was surprised by the courteous, proud, warm attitude I met with the Bangladeshis. Did they follow me? Absolutely. But it was hardly to try and sell me something - they followed me to satisfy their curiosity, to learn a little from that foreigner passing through their street or their land, to feel a link to an outside world they would never see themselves - no matter how short-lived that link would be.
Admittedly, their curiosity normally did not transcend the obvious questions: What is your name? What is your country? What is your religion? You married? Yes, those same questions, sometimes asked 20 times in a time frame of 5 minutes, did wear me down occasionally, to a point where I considered recording the answers on my phone and playing the answers to them. But then again, the enthusiasm, the honest curiosity with which they were asked, so endeared me that I always stopped to have that small talk. It often made me laugh, especially when they guessed I must be Japanese, or, after stating my country and pretending to know it, seriously saying I was, therefore, Asian. I mostly regretted not speaking any Bangla, because most Bangladeshis I hardly spoke any English at all.
What had never happened before during my travels, happened now - I became an instant celebrity wherever I came. People would rush out of their shops or houses, holding a piece of paper, and begging me for a signature. They would take my picture or record me on their video. They would convince each other to have their picture taken. They would follow me, even when I was riding the back of a rickshaw, just to stare at that Stranger. They also turned out to be amazingly hospitable and honest, especially considering that by far most of them were very poor. Oh, it is true - Bangladeshis sometimes drove me crazy, especially when I just did not seem to be able to communicate with them, thought they understood something, to find out they did not. But overall, their warmth, their open mindedness (accepting any answer I gave them), their effort to give the foreigner a feeling of welcome in their country was very convincing. And oh - did I mention their being extremely photogenic? It happened often that I was walking the streets, not knowing where to look because I saw beautiful people everywhere. Beautiful in appearance, but also in heart. Considering the difficult circumstances in which they live, that is truly remarkable and admirable.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Bangladeshi people (Bangladesh). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Bangladeshi people. Read more about this site.