Sunday, August 10, 2008

I can do good news

Reading over this blog I see that I have been unrelievedly glum. I can just hear my mother saying, as she does about most of the places I visit, "You haven't told me a single thing that would make me want to go there."

Let me correct that. Here are some of the things I like about Bangladesh:

1. its fabulous flag which depicts the blood of liberation, the blazing sun of the region and the country's lush green fields.

2. the food, especially the sweets, including manda for which I am hunting a recipe. Over the past week I've eaten good Chinese, Indian and Vietnamese food in addition to distinctive Bangladeshi dishes. And then there is the thick, sweet and milky tea served at work, in meetings and on all social occasions.

3. the newspapering spirit. "We believe in Accuracy" in the slogan of the Dhaka Reporters Unity organization of more than 800 journalists. "We are committed to the People's Right to Know" the Daily Star proclaims on a banner in its otherwise grubby lobby. Reporters talk about how they have to do at least a story a day and there are topics that just won't get published --usually those about big business and real estate, but they add, sometimes they try anyway.

4. seasons Zahid points out that there are six seasons here, each of about two months/ They are summer, autumn, late autumn, winter, spring and the rainy season. Each, Zahid says, has its own colors and flowers and they are all different.

5. patriotism. Even while telling us about his hard existence supporting a wife and children and his mother and brothers one driver added, "but I love my country." When I commented about how many journalists and others here had traveled to the US or other places in the west, Zahid who was a prestigious Fred Friendly fellow in Maryland said, with a laugh, "Only the fools come back."

5. hope. This is the hardest part for me to remember when seeing so many lives of hardship and misery but huge, messy cities like this are an expression of hope in the future. People are grubbing for jobs and for tiny pieces of property that will be their family's stake in the future. And in Bangladesh growth was booming -- at least up to the state of emergency -- and there've been significant advances with international aid and NGOs.
6. colors! The women here wear gorgeous saris and pants-and-tunic with scarves here in every conceivable color and print, greens, oranges, lavendars, poka dots and leopard fur. Great and cheery.

No comments:

Blog Archive