I was selected to be a part of Fredkorpset internship program which allowed me to travel to Dhaka and stay there for about 10 months. Regardless to mention here that I already lost out two months because of visa problems. Getting a visa to Bangladesh is a tough thing to do, especially for an Indian citizen.
Finally after two months, the moment arrived and I could not help but be happy. This of course came after tireless efforts from various quarters and a lot of paperwork. My friends have always been kidding and pulling my leg, “what the heck made you decide to go to Bangladesh out of all the places in the world”? I of course, wanted to reply to almost all of it but decided to keep mum. They also would say, “If you get bored just go to the border and cross-over to Assam, your state”. I just smiled. Immigration, mostly illegal, from Bangladesh has been a major problem for my state. It is estimated that every year thousands and thousands cross-over to Assam. The result, also is major atrocities committed on the immigrants too. There have been various reports in Assam where the so called educationists and theorists etc. most of the time cites poverty, poor economy, lack of job opportunities and Over population as the major reasons for the growth of the immigration menace for the people of Assam. I was also somewhere excited that I would be going in person and spending enough time in Bangladesh to understand the reasons behind the immigration for myself.
But of course, some amount of nervousness was natural. But I was contented that I could manage to speak enough of Bengali to survive me in Dhaka and also could understand almost the whole of the language. Thus, finally on the 4th of July, I took the Jet Airways flight for Dhaka. There were only a few female passengers in the flight, most of them Air hostesses. The person sitting next to me was a patient and had a pipe still inserted to his Nose and had stitches in his neck. After a journey of about 3 hours I finally reached the Dhaka airport. A small but beautiful airport. Oh I forgot to mention, the view from above just before the landing was amazing. Most of it was covered with greenery and water with patches of land in between which formed the habitation of the people. I was told that the geography of Bangladesh is interesting as new patches of land keeps forming every year.
The airport experience of course was very interesting and amusing too. After the immigration check, which took me almost more than half an hour, I moved towards my luggage belt only to find that the luggage has still not arrived. Thus, I decided to go towards money exchange counters. The exchange counters were attached to each other forming a long line and had hands waving at people to come and get currency exchanged. That of course, was interesting as I had never seen something like that. Business instincts I guess (I had heard that the Bengali people have excellent business capacities). I browsed through the rates various banks were offering and decided to go for Janata bank. After I had changed the currency, I asked for a slip to which the person politely denied and said, we don’t offer receipts. I was just wondering how do they keep check of how much they have changed for the entire day. The Notes also of course, were very old. When inquired if they would work, the person , already irritated with me by now, literally shouted at me that there would be no problem with them and started waving to the other passengers.
After finishing with the currency exchange, I went to the luggage belt which was still not there. I had to wait for almost an hour to get my luggage. The person who had come to receive me had become concerned about me. The office was only about half an hour journey from the airport, most of it stuck in traffic. I Had heard a lot about notorious traffic in Dhaka, I could finally see it for myself.
Hospitality comes naturally to the people of Dhaka. Sometimes I end up wondering if they are actually so hospitable or they are just acting. Two days in Dhaka and I am enjoying it till yet. All I can say that whatever be the experience, I am looking forward to it.