Shuvo shokal from Dhaka,
Travellers to South-East Asia will know that Asian people typically love their colourful bling. Bangadeshis are unashamed bling lovers, too.
The taxi driver in Bangkok has flowers hanging from the rear-vision mirror. The bus driver in Sri Lanka has coloured lights and brightly adorned religious figurines on the dashboard. The truck driver (whereas normally you might regard this vocation as the bastion of hard-boiled machismo) has painted his truck in bright landscapes, flags and floral emblems. Blokes here in Bangladesh do similar things, too. And they are not frightened to wear pink. They love their colour and bling. Why is it so?
oriental and occidental
Many explain cultural differences by saying that easterners look in and westerners look out. There’s a lot of truth in this. In the Orient – where Buddha has had a strong following for centuries – people tend to be gentle and quiet, looking towards their inner selves for true meaning of life. On the Occident, the opposite seems to have taken root; we look outside of ourselves for the same thing. In the west, we solve worldly problems by thinking about the scientific explanation of how and why. In the east, they are more concerned with the inner being.
Naturally, these are gross generalisations but it seems to explain a lot round here.
Bangladeshis love to dress up and do it with panache. The saree – from a non-wearer’s perspective – is a fairly non-functional outfit but it can look great. (Linda wore a bright green saree to a function last week and looked a picture.) The panjabi is a very stylish men’s outfit, too. The jewellery – an accoutrement I have to confess I usually just don’t notice – is a feature here, especially for the nouveau riche.
weddings and funerals
The weddings and funerals are huge events here. The photograph below is taken from our window of the neighbouring apartment, lit up for two weeks before, during and after the nuptials of a young couple.
We’ve also seen fairy lights on the Gulshan Police Station. (That’s the feature photo.)
There are plenty of other examples. The Bangladeshi national anthem includes the words, “the fragrance from your mango groves, makes me wild with joy, Ah, what a thrill!”. An advertisement for ice cream here says, “Feel the love in every scoop”. A sign to customers on the wall of a shop says: “Infinite Love Always”. Even if these were mere marketing terms, they demonstrate a side to the people which is not always evident elsewhere.
These are endearing qualities, regardless of their origins or explanations. Linda – an animal lover from way back – notes constantly that the dogs are well looked after in Dhaka. She quotes Gandhi when she opines that people who look after their animals are good people. If you take an interest in the finer points of nature, you’re less likely to harm anything which stems from it, right? It all makes for an interesting sojourn in among these surprising Asians.