Postcards from the Edge

of Bangladesh


That is how I end all my conversation here.

With a smile, a head bob/tilt to the right, and an ‘ok’. This signals the end of a conversation, which is followed by the other person doing the same, and we both walk away. Quick and simple. I like it.

I guess it’s the Bangladeshi equivalent of ‘aaaanyway’. As in ‘Aaanyway, great chatting to you but I must dash. See you again soon, keep well blah blah blah’. Except here I don’t have to do any of the conversation wrap up and pleasantries, just an ‘ok’ is required.

Re the head bob/tilt, this has now very much become part of my non-verbal communication. I don’t even realise I doing it, until I speak to other foreigners. Then I feel a bit odd about it and think to myself ‘what are you doing Estelle?’. While getting puzzled looks from the foreigners.

We all end up doing it here. One volunteer’s family came to visit her here in Bangers, and asked her ‘why do you keep doing that thing with your head?’. It’s not the full-on Indian head waggle/wobble, as that isn’t really done here in Bangladesh. But it’s tilt of the head, kinda like nodding sideways. Now I wonder if I had taken a placement in India, if by this stage I would be doing the full-on head waggle/wobble. When working with our Indian colleagues in Accenture, I just could not get to grips with the head waggle/wobble. What does it mean? Is it a ‘yes’, is it a ‘no’, it is a ‘maybe’, is it an ‘I don’t know’, is it a ‘piss off and stop asking me stupid questions’?

Here it’s easier. It’s a sign on acceptance or agreement. Or a sign that this conversation is ending, and I will be walking away from you in about 2 seconds.



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