After 2 and a half weeks here just getting used to living and breathing in Bangladesh, I’ve been reminded that I’m actually here to do some work – I met up with a colleague from Moanaghar yesterday. He’s from the Chakma tribe in the CHT (Chittagong Hill Tracts), very articulate and seems very much on the ball. It’s great to start forming some idea of how the organization fits together and what they will be expecting of me. So far (for most of us here) it’s a bit of smoke and mirrors as to what we’re actually going to be doing day to day in our placements.
I’ve been invited round his house next week for dinner and the customary rice wine. Indigenous people aren’t Muslim, so drinking is allowed and rice wine is their tipple of choice. One VSO volunteer has described it as rocket fuel to me, so let’s see if I can my own. As a Muslim country, drinking isn’t allowed in public, and I can’t really figure out the exact rules on drinking for locals. I think foreigners can drink in private (as long as we don’t make too much of a nuisance of ourselves) and I think if any locals drink (except indigenous people) it has to be far from any prying eyes.
14th April is Bangla New Year, and I’m going to try get out of Dhaka for a long weekend to go down to Rangamati with my colleagues to experience it down there. It’s the biggest festival of the year in the Hill Tracts, and apparently a very different experience from the New Year celebrations in the rest of Bangladesh. Not looking forward to the 8 hour bus journey to get there, but it’s something I’ll need to get used to. As a female volunteer I get to book two bus seats in case there is any unwanted attention route. I’ll definitely be making use of that, not so much for unwanted attention, but some extra leg room. Being a female here doesn’t have many advantages, so I’m taking them when I see them!