Bangladesh Travel Diary: Organised Chaos 

I am currently based in Bangladesh as part of a team of  community workers. I am also having fun documenting all our travels and adventures, follow my blog to keep updated with the ups and downs of living in such a beautiful yet challenging country..

                    Organised Chaos 

Here in Bangladesh it is currently Durga Puja, a Hindu festival taking place over four nights. Although only around 9% of Bangladesh’s population is Hindu all faiths are invited to join in with the celebrations. 

So on Thursday night we all got dressed up in our traditional dresses and headed for the festival. The festival takes place in all the temples along the main road in the centre of the district. Hundreds of people from all the nearby villages came to celebrate and worked their way along the temples. 

The first temple we went to was showing a Hindi film, we got escorted to the main seating area, only problem being this was women only, so the only boy in our group had to stand outside with a police escort. After trying to pick out some words we’ve learnt while watching the film and avoiding a mass of mosquitoes we decided to walk along the colourfully lit road and discover another temple. 

We were attracted to one with bright lights, live music and dancers. As we approached to see if there was a spare seat one of the organisers made everybody move of a bench so we could sit down, very embarrassing. Then if anyone obstructed our view of the dancing he escorted them out. The music was brilliant, if a little out of time, but very enthusiastic and the dancers were in a trance-like state worshipping their god. It was an excellent experience although there was no need for us to be made last-minute guests of honour just because we’re foreigners. 

After having some night-time tea at the market we headed back. But we arrived home to darkness, the festival was using so much electricity it had used all of the surrounding villages supply. Our generator couldn’t even power a single lightbulb. So we showered and brushed our teeth in darkness and went to bed listening to the blaring Hindi beats not too far away. It had been great to see a different side to the villages at night and everyone enjoying themselves. 
This weekend the compound I’m staying in is hosting the annual general meeting of the NGO I am working for. With lots of important people arriving a culture show was organised to welcome them. We were very honoured to also be invited. Starting at 6pm we headed over at 5.50pm to get good seats. No need, we were the first to arrive-seems like everyone knew something we didn’t. The show started promptly at 7pm (Turns out this is known as Bangla time-no one ever arrives on time or acknowledges their lateness). But it was worth the wait, we were treated to traditional singing, dancing and an epic keyboard/flute duet. Everyone was dressed in their traditional tribal clothes and headdresses. And it was great for me personally as some of the young people I’ve been working with were taking part. 

After the show we had dinner and headed to bed for some much needed rest, it’s been a fully-packed couple of days. And the one thing I have been struggling with here in Bangladesh is getting up for breakfast at 8am everyday, I am often the last of my group to stagger into the dining hall. So with my (very comfy) festive pj’s on and having not even looked in the mirror the next morning I headed out for breakfast. As I entered the room and lifted my head I realised we had been joined by 5 of the NGO’s leaders who were all sat with us, dressed as smartly as you can in 30 degree heat. Thankfully as I left my room I had grabbed a scarf and thrown it round my neck so I would’t be considered disrespectful, I was still woefully underdressed. With the leaders appetites much bigger than ours there wasn’t a lot of food left, turns out my roommate came up with a genius plan. All was revealed when we got back to our room, she had stored a couple of roti (delicious flatbread) in her scarf, our mid-morning snack was sorted. 

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