Postcards from the Edge

of Bangladesh

Picnic Season

So along with Puppy Season and Wedding Season, this is also Picnic Season.

It’s the thing to do here in winter. Picnicing is certainly not a summer/any other time of the year activity because picnicing

a) in the summer season would be a very, very, very (VERY) sweaty way to spend a day

b) in the rainy season would result in pretty soggy sandwiches

So given the nice weather, everyone picnics (I’m going to one tomorrow). There is a picnic spot near my house somewhere. With loud music, and a very eclectic playlist. Which becomes the background music of my day. Yet, somehow, it doesn’t really bother me. I think it’s because I know there are people out there having a good time, relaxing and having a bit of a party. And that, to me, is a GOOD thing. Music isn’t big in Bangladesh and I practically never hear it (unless I play it myself, and no, I’m not counting the call the prayers as music). I’ve just read the blurb on music in the Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Islam, and Muhammad forbade public dancing (for all), and solo performances by women. He also declared certain types of instruments off-limits, such as flutes and stringed pieces, equating them with having the ability to make people forget God and to get lost in the passions of the flesh. Well there you go… and don’t say you don’t learn nothing on this blog….I do sometimes think there is a lack of visible joy and fun in Bangladesh (severe poverty and natural disasters aside), but I won’t get into THAT right now.

So, back to the picnic music. Besides ALL of my favourite Bangladeshi songs being played, on repeat sometimes (is it just me or are there very few popular Bangla songs, or is it that they just all sound the same?), here’s a sample of the ‘western’ music from yesterday’s picnic.

  • My heart says la la la la la  –> very, very, very popular, also often played on repeat, ad nuseum
  • anything by Queen
  • My sweet buttercup
  • that Celine Dion song from Titanic
  • various heavy metal songs (a surprise entry in this year’s charts…)

I’m yet to ascertain if there is actual dancing at these picnics, to accompany the loud music. I’ll let you know tomorrow.

PS Music and dance is, however, big in the indigenous communities. For this, they are often judged by the Muslim majority. Well, for that and the rice wine, of course. If anyone has access to Banglapedia, have a read through T for Tribal People. Hardly a well balanced and fair account.



  Julie wrote @

The Banglapedia is online but the best I can find is tribal dance and tribal languages: and See if you can find it. I’m dying to have a read.

  estellevisagie wrote @

Right, here it is: (it’s actually under Tribal Culture)

Check how many times drinking, dancing, oh and drinking again are mentioned. Most amusing part is the ‘Food and Drink’ section. Well, the whole thing would be amusing, if it wasn’t so sad. This is (pretty much) the official Bangladeshi view on the indigenous people, who Bengalis love to refer to as the ‘backward’ people. Due to complaints from various indigenous leaders the next edition of Bangladpedia is allegedly going to be amended accordingly…

I’m also pretty sure it’s these types of biased and derogatory accounts of the indigenous communities that form part of the school curriculum (I’m going to check it out).

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