Some force is preventing me from reaching Bangladesh. Last night I explained to my hosts that I would be leaving around 7am, but Futu said his wife wanted to prepare some food for my journey and it won’t be ready until around 9am. Could I stay until 10am? Despite the fact that this would place me immediately in the hot part of the day, I could hardly refuse such an offer of more great hospitality, so I said okay.
In the morning the family got moving around 9am. Such a different use of time than other parts of Asia where the day usually starts just before sunrise. I readjusted my handlebars (I have decided to trial a more upright riding style in an attempt to alleviate bum and back issues) and prepped my bike. Futu then invited me out on his motorbike and we rode around town visiting shops. Firstly, we went to a chicken shop were we sat and waited while out chosen chicken was slaughtered, butchered and bagged – with no fridges or freezers around, this is the way things are done. Secondly, we visited a vegetable shop where a shirtless man with a very cool necklace served us while he sat cross-legged among his colourful display of produce. Thirdly, we travelled to a tiny kiosk in a quiet neighbourhood where we bought rice and various spices.
Back at home we ate a typical breakfast of roti with vegetables. Futu then asked me if I wanted to join him at his office. It became apparent I needed to make my desire to leave known again. Fuat thought I could leave mid-afternoon when the weather starts cooling down. I explained this would only give me two hours to get anywhere before dark, which is hardly worth it. In the end, and especially because his wife was preparing a meal for me, it was decided I would stay another night (and this time actually leave first thing in the morning). I’m glad I stayed again because I had another amazing day being immersed in Bengali life.
I did indeed join Futu at his work, where I brought my own stuff to do. Futu didn’t seem to be busy at all and later he made comments about the fact that he has a government job, so he can get paid for doing very little. The ‘office’ was part of a building attached to the Bengal Train Company repair workshop. There was a room with a karams table set on a metal drum, which is equivalent to having a room with a pool table in it. I was excited to see the game I had first played at my friend Stacey’s grandparent’s house when I was about 13 years old.
In the early afternoon we went home where we feasted on chicken biryani, one of the best meals I have had in India (the second best being the meal I was fed last night). We then returned to the ‘office’ where I entered diary entries and Futu did whatever he does. After a couple of hours I was called outside for a break and was led down the road to the side of a river where a ute packed with a pandal’s centrepiece was being backed up to the water’s edge. I realised I was getting to see one of the final parts of the Durga Puja tradition: the casting of Durga into a river. The second she toppled into the water she was pounced on by little kids. Among the spectators were Indian guys who had clearly had a colour fight, being adorned from head to toe in colourful powder and paint.
I was chilling back at home when the girl I met yesterday bounded into my room to say hi, followed by the group of friends I’d made last night. We hung out a bit and swapped details. Then they invited me to stay two more days so they could show me around during yet another big festival. They ended up convincing me to say yes, but first I had to check with Futu to see if it was okay if I stayed with his family longer. He succumbed to peer pressure from the group and said yes. The plan changed after the group left and Futu gave me a stern but friendly talking to.
Futu told me it would be better for me if I didn’t stay and it would be better for my new friends (one in particular) if we didn’t hang out any more. He went on to explain our cultural differences, especially in terms of our different ideas about love and marriage. He was worried I would distract the 20-somethings from the life that lies before them. He said love based on first appearances is doomed to fail because that initial spark will fade and when it does, the relationship will start to face problems. He said that arranged marriages are different because at first you don’t know the person you are married to, so you have to work to get to know the person. Over time you discover and fall in love with their good qualities. This kind of love will grow and grow as time goes on. He was worried about me because I have a whole journey planned and falling for someone presents an obstacle. I could tell his main concern was for the girl in question though, that he didn’t want her to get carried away about what could happen.
At first I resisted, saying these are the first friends I have made in India and I’d have an even better opportunity to get to know Bengali culture. But, as I was a guest in his house and experiencing a culture I didn’t understand, I had to concede that he was probably right. I am not the kind of person to stay level-headed about girls and I would be lying if I said ideas about falling for a girl and altering my journey don’t enter my head. At the end of the day though, I know my journey is still my number one priority and as nice as it is to think such things, in reality I have only one thing on my mind and that is my trip. This is why Futu is right and why I should leave tomorrow before things get out of hand. Such is life.
|Accommodation||House of a friendly family|
|Distance ridden today||0km|
|Total distance ridden||14,388km|