The short answer is no.
The last few days have been taken up by attending a quarterly VSO meeting for the programme area under which I work, Indigenous Community Rights. It was held in another district in the Hill Tracts, Kagrachari. It was a 1 day meeting, but as always there are 8 hour bus trips on either side. So a 1 day meeting, takes 3 days when you include travel time.
After our session, there was a ‘Cultural Exchange Programme’ in the town. Us volunteers actually thought people where kidding when they told us to prepare to ‘share our cultures’. Turns out they weren’t.
We turn up the Programme to discover a fully decorated community centre, complete with stage, band, sound systems, microphones. And a lot of people. Our ‘contributions’ can only be described as embarrassing. In between watching a well rehearsed and prepared cultural programme (poem recitals, traditional songs and dancing), each of us volunteers were called up SEPARATELY to the stage to share our culture. NONE of us expected this. I gave some shocking little speech about South Africa, 1994 democratic elections, Nelson Mandela and hope for the future. Eish. Not sure what the crowd made of it, but I got of the stage as soon as humanely possible.
The English contingent shared a famous cultural song, called ‘If you’re happy and you know it’….
Well, at least that is over with. What they have taken away from our cultural performance can only be guessed at.
I’m in Dhaka now, and leave for Bali on the morrow. Sjoe. Tonight is a party to celebrate 3 volunteers’ birthdays at the Bagha, followed by a party hosted by the US marines. US marines apparently guard US embassies all over the world, and host great parties. Cover charge: men 500 taka. Laides free. Of course.
You eyeballing me boy?