26 August 2007

Viva la revolution: Day Seven

Wednesday's turmoil was a conspiracy of vested quarters who tried to tarnish the image of the interim government," General Moeen U. Ahmed. chief of Bangladesh army told officials on Saturday.
I left Dhaka as planned late last night. The curfew had been re-imposed, but the hotel staff assured me that it did not apply to me as I was a foreigner and I had papers. We left the hotel at 11:30 and the street that had been wall-to-wall traffic just three hours earlier was completely deserted. We came to the traffic light and were stopped twice by the army, asking what we were doing. The driver put on the light in the cab so they could see that I was white, and when they saw I was white, they let us through. Bill, the leader of our group, told me that if I got stuck at the airport, all I needed to do was click my heels together and say, There's no place like home. Then he added, 'But your yellow brick road will lead to the toilet.'

We had a dinner together last night which was quite exceptional, except that I was still not feeling 100%. I ate nan and chicken and talked about moderate Islam with one of the teachers from Dhaka. In all, I think I had discussions about Islam with three Muslims and several Catholic monks. Bangladesh is a secular Muslim country that seems very reasonable as far as religion goes. It was good for me, a corn-fed, Midwestern boy who has always been sort of afraid of Muslims, to see how it actually is, rather than how someone is telling me it is. After actually being in a Muslim country, I have more hope for the East and West to make some sort of mutually acceptable peace as we have traditionally had, I guess.

On the plane, there were so many migrant workers headed to Malaysia. They were all wearing hats and shirts of the company they worked for — addresses and numbers pinned to them. When I came to the ticket counter, they were all shoo-ed away for me to be helped first. On the plane, they all spread out and needed help finding their seats.

Obviously a trip to the third world brings up a lot of thoughts about privilege, responsibility, colonialism, neo-colonialism, globalism, and the cost of revolution. I don't know if I am in any place to put together any coherent thoughts on it now as I am still not feeling well. Maybe in the next couple of weeks.