So we finally got our acts together and went to visit them.
I was really nervous about the trip. It was the first time I'd be meeting my mother- and father-in-law in person (we've spoken on the phone and FaceTime'd loads of times since we got married in December 2012) and I was worried about whether or not we'd get along and feel like we were part of each other's family.
After all, a month is not a long time at all.
Luckily, the awkwardness I'd expected was non-existent and it simply felt like I was seeing my in-laws after a long time, rather than for the first time. Everyone was so nice and warm and friendly and took great care of us. My mother-in-law fed us so much food that my husband's jeans became really tight and I went up three dress sizes. Eeek! But everything tasted so good. The fish, chicken, the seasonal vegetables were so fresh and fragrant that it was hard to resist. Though it wasn't the season for mangoes and jack-fruits, the two fruits that Bangladeshis love, we did get to eat the fruits that were available during the winter.
Winter for Bangladesh, that is.
For us, it felt hot. Felt like summer. British summer. Not too hot, not uncomfortable, but the kind of hot that made you feel like you were on holiday. It was lovely. Always sunny and bright and fresh. It was the best time of year, I felt, to be visiting the country. Towards the end of our stay, we even got to see the year's first rainfall. Yes. The first time it rained in Bangladesh, according to the people we hung out with, was in February. End of February. Can you imagine that? No rain or gloom for almost two whole months of the year.
Apart from over-eating at home, we tried a few restaurants (and they were okay. We tried the Burger King in Dhaka, which wasn't as good as the one in Turkey, and the Pizza Hut in Sylhet was more or less fine, actually. We didn't try the KFC; I'm not a huge fan of that fast-food place in London, so I wasn't going to try the Bangladeshi version!) and visited relatives and ate with them. I preferred the home-cooked food, but the people there preferred the food served in the outside eateries. To them, restaurants serving rice and curry (i.e. Indian restaurants) was much better than the cuisine rustled up at home in their wood-fired stoves. To me, the food in the restaurants there tasted like the food we cook up here in the UK for special occasions and didn't impress me.
But the food was so cheap that I didn't complain about the lack of 'wow-factor'.
In the capital, Dhaka, there was so much hustle-and-bustle, dust, traffic, noise pollution, i.e. drivers honking their horns more than they took breaths. Yes, in Bangladesh, they don't signal, they honk their horns to let you know they're behind you, or trying to overtake you, or driving beside you. Or anything, really.
In the rural areas, in the village where we lived, it was so much more peaceful and relaxed.
I noticed that people preferred to make the effort and take the time to get things right rather than take short-cuts, whether it was making a cup of tea or washing their clothes. Whereas in the western world, we're always looking to make life easier, buying the latest gadgets to make life simpler and get things done quicker, the people over there didn't mind taking 30 minutes to brew tea over a wood-fired stove even though they had a brand spanking new electric kettle which we took to replace their old one. Although there was a gas stove, my mother-in-law preferred to cook over a wood-fed fire, even if it meant it took longer and was tricky to control the heat.
"It tastes better this way," she'd say. "And I'm used to it."
It was a wonderful holiday but I'm glad to be back in London. This is my world, as things stand, though I can see myself make Bangladesh my world in the future. I have loads to do this year, from returning to regular blogging, to writing my books, reading the many novels on my TBR and discovering new ones. Not to mention losing the extra kilos I gained overseas! I also have a little surprise lined up for my readers, so watch this space...
View from our house:
The local primary school, the one attended by my husband and where my mother-in-law taught for a number of years before becoming the headmistress at a nearby school:
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