Last month, my family embarked on a trip to Bangladesh. My parents were more than excited to go. I, on the other hand, was not so happy. My somber attitude stemmed from my last visit to Bangladesh. Two words: stomach virus.
However, my parents firmly told me that I had no choice but to go, and, on June 28, 2012, I grumpily boarded a plane. Another plane ride and approximately seventeen hours later, my family and I arrived at Shahjalal International Airport.
â–º QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
For the first few days, my family stayed at my aunt’s apartment, in Bashudhara, which is in Dhaka. These days were spent doing nothing special (watching TV and complaining about the heat). Half way through the first week of our three week trip, we decided to visit Hurua, the village where my father grew up. The plan was to stay for three days and three nights.
Prior experience reminded me that the villages in Bangladesh were old fashioned. And by ‘old fashioned’ I mean outhouses and a multitude of chickens. Not surprisingly, I wasn’t exactly thrilled to go. But, again, I had no say in the matter and found myself in a six hour long microbus ride to Hurua.
After arriving at my father’s childhood home, my extended family welcomed us warmly.
The next day, a few cousins took my family out for a walk. The power had gone out twice since breakfast and the fear of eventually having to use an outhouse was not helping my mood. As we were walking along the dirt road, a chicken suddenly darted in front of me. The question of ‘Why did the chicken cross the road?’ entered my mind. At that moment in time, the answer was not ‘to get to the other side’ or ‘because it’s too far to walk around.” The answer was ‘to mock my misery’.
As my time in Hurua progressed, my answers to that timeless question grew. The next morning, my answer was ‘to peck at the outhouse door while I’m inside’, and later that day, ‘to try and give me a heart attack’.
Eventually, our time there was up, and my relatives walked with us to the microbus back to Bashundhara. While we walked, I talked to an uncle. He said that I ought to visit again. In response, I urged him to visit the US. He said he couldn’t do that. When I asked why, he told me to look behind us. I turned and saw a large crowd behind us. I was stunned.
My uncle told me that the entire village had come to see my family off, despite the fact that many had never even spoken to us.
“You see, everyone here treats you like family. You are constantly in a warm embrace, and you never walk into an empty home. Can you say you have that in New York?” he asked. I responded by shaking my head. My uncle’s words had not fully impacted me then.
The remaining two weeks of my vacation passed quickly, with an adventure in the bat-infested cave of Alu tila (near the city of Khagrachari) and shopping in Dhaka’s Pink City and Eastern Plaza. But when I got back to New York, and walked into my cold and empty house, my uncle’s words resonated in my mind. Although I now had a constant stream of electricity and other modern comforts, I didn’t have human warmth or company. I actually missed Bangladesh, and it occurred to me that the chicken may have crossed the road to provide some comfort to a friend.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.