Posts Tagged ‘exploring’

India and Bangladesh, like all countries that live off mass transit, deliver a particularly distilled essence at the focal points of their comings and goings. In India’s case, this is at the train stations, where humanity in all its colors descends into one crossroads. In Bangladesh, where rivers are everywhere, flowing through every town, the passenger launch docks in each city are the inflection points of human life, the arenas where nature’s tendency toward entropy becomes manifest.

Here, on these narrow floating strips, surrounded by the cartoonishly over-sized trappings of maritime equipment, the industrial work of moving human beings meets the frenetic diversity of life in this place. (more…)

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In Chittagong, we decided to do things a little differently and take a bit of a leap of faith. As we are leaving the Buddhist temple in the city, a young man approaches us and introduces himself as Sanjoy, a student who rents a small room in the temple complex as he pursues his studies in English Literature. His home is in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, a Buddhist and tribal area where we want to visit. He says he works as an occasional tour guide for the region.

Although we usually are hesitant to use guides, there is an immediate positive connection with Sanjoy; his sincerity is palpable when he says he felt close to us as we were sitting in the meditation hall. We have lunch and plan with him, he helps us get permits, and a few days later we are on our way to his stunning, hilly home town of Banderban. (more…)

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Tell me about Bangladesh: How is it different from India? This is the question that everyone from home asks me. In our first destination, Sylhet, we find that the lungi is deeply in style, and this combined with the pervasive stares makes us feel like we are transported back to Tamil Nadu. A new development, however, is that whenever we stop to do anything on the street, a crowd of 10 or 20 men gathers within moments to watch. Look, the foreigners are trying to buy water at the store. Look, the foreigners are arguing with a baby-taxi driver. Look, the foreigners are drinking tea, are visiting a tailor, are admiring a shop full of saris and lungis.

These crowds are unnerving for sure, but deeply benign. A disagreement over price can be easily resolved when people from the crowd intervene on behalf of fairness. A language barrier in rickshaw directions can be overcome when the crowd member with the best English steps forward to interpret. (more…)

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Bangladesh Waters

My birthday included a very exciting excursion to the ghats of Chittagong. We quickly gathered a following of curious locals wondering what in the world we were doing there. “Where are you going?” people occasionally asked us. We weren’t going anywhere; everywhere we wandered was endlessly fascinating. I mean, look at those pirate boats! (more…)

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Michele and I are constantly having conversations about our lives, about what we value and what lifestyle is the ideal way for us to find meaning in this world. Over the course of the past several months (really the past two years), a number of common threads have emerged to shine some insight on what each of us holds dear.

For me, improvisation is a value that is embedded in my heart; I deeply believe that life is most beautiful when I act in spontaneous dialogue with my surroundings. I think one reason our time in Sikkim resonated so well with me was that it seemed like an environment that rewarded this value. A whimsical decision to climb a small path on the roadside was rewarded with a spectacular view of mist rising from the valleys.

Our most dramatic day in Sikkim was spent on a 19km day trek from Yuksom to Tashiding, traversing mountains and valleys on stone-gripped footpaths without a map. We walked through small hamlets and cornfields, gesturing down the path to strangers while asking, “Tashiding?” through the unnatural smiles of tourists who are unable to communicate with the locals. (more…)

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