As this adventure in Bangladesh beings to wind down, I thought I would take this opportunity to discuss the hospitality we have received in this country. (By “wind down” I mean we have less than a week left). Anyways, back to the hospitality.
It started the minute we arrived, Dr. Ahmed’s brother-in-law made customs a breeze and had vehicles arranged for us right at baggage claim. Even before we were through customs, Dr. Ahmed’s sons, Rashikh and Adeed, had collected all of our luggage for us. Upon arriving at the hotel, the staff quickly gathered our bags and delivered them to our rooms. We were originally in a room right next to the kitchen – it was loud and smelled of Indian/Chinese/Thai food – we requested a room change and the hotel was happy to accommodate our request.
Our first big trip outside of the hotel we took a day trip to a village just outside of Dhaka. In the village, everywhere we went, we were offered chairs, hand fans and tea and cookies/crackers. Then our translator took time out of his day to so us the National Martyrs Memorial and took us to a restaurant for lunch (we paid). When we met Dr. Mohammad Yunus, Grameen Bank was focused on ensuring that Northern Kentucky University students had had the first photographs and opportunity to meet Yunus.
Dr. Ahmed’s family invited us to a coming-of-age party they were throwing for her nephew. Her brother-in-law even went out of his way to obtain special permission for us to attend because the party was on the Bangladesh Air Force Base.
Our week in the village and at Grameen Fisheries was full of hospitality. The messenger purchased our food and water (not to mention cleaning up the bird that lost its life in our ceiling fan). The bank manager and staff that lived at the bank gave up two of their rooms to give us proper sleeping quarters. The cook made us delicious meals of exactly what we requested – mostly rice and fresh fruit for lunch and fried eggs and nan for breakfast. The village children would teach us words in Bangla and the local school invited us for a visit. When we were in the field, the Grameen borrowers would make sure we all had a seat, even if they had to stand or sit on the floor. Tea was served to us at every chance.
Our interpreters, Russell, Younus and Fuad, were instrumental in our learning and our getting around. They do so much more than just translate for us: they arrange transportation, make sure our accommodations are good, ensure our safety and are there if we get sick and need a doctor. At the Fisheries, Younus arranged for CNG’s to take us on a tour of the beautiful countryside. Since we have returned from the village, they have taken us sightseeing and shopping, invited us to their homes, arranged for American Burger to be delivered to our hotel, brought us delicious sweets… the list goes on and on.
On Wednesday (7/28/10), Dr. Ahmed invited us to her husband’s family vacation house in Utrail, south of Dhaka on the Ganges River. We took a ferry to the village and then spent the day relaxing at their vacation home. They cooked wonderful food for us – all very fresh. The chicken had been slaughtered and the tilapia caught just that day. After lunch we took a walk through the village that ended in a boat ride across the flooded area where the village used to sit.
And the hospitality continues, tomorrow we are going to the Tea Estates – about a 3-hour drive away – for an overnight stay. Dr. Ahmed and her family have made all of the arrangements…
I’ll write about the Tea Estates when we return.