Bangladesh: Hartels, miscreants, and Barry, the Bathroom Lizard.

Barry The Bathroom Lizard, judging me for not flossing

Bangladesh is into its second straight month of hartels and blockades. Both political parties have reached a stalemate – and neither has any reason to break this madness.

Coming back from the Australian Club today, on one of my very few ventures out of my flat, traffic is backed up from the main roundabout in Gulshan. Slowly, slowly, the car moves forward.

A large group of men are wearing strange long white sheet things with sleeves, and white head coverings. To my western eyes, it has just a touch of the KKK. The section of the roundabout that was blocked had been covered in grass mats, and the men just sat.

Some had candles. A freshly burnt out car had been dragged into the intersection.

The driver explained that people were sick of the hartels, the burnings, the blockades, the hundreds of busses and trucks torched in the city, so many people horribly burnt, the 10,000 people ‘detained’, the handmade bombs, and the 53 confirmed hartel related deaths in the last 30 days.

Well, actually, he didn’t say any of that, because he has very little English. So to quote Rahman more accurately:

‘Enough’, he said. ‘It’s enough. Shesh’ (finish).

We have been told to keep a supply of food and water in our flat to see us out for seven days. There is a mass evacuation plan in place, should the need arise. No one really thinks it will come to this, but it is in the back of my mind.

It makes you stop and ask yourself what you really value. – And if I left, would I be able to smuggle Barry The Bathroom Lizard out with me too? We have really bonded.

Barry The Bathroom Lizard, judging me for not flossing
Barry The Bathroom Lizard, judging me for not flossing

And amongst all this, we are just trying to get on with things as best we can. On hartel days, my movement is very limited, the type of vehicle I can travel in, and the three small suburbs I have to stay in. I work from home every day now, which actually suits the type of work I’m doing. Getting to meetings is difficult.

Earlier in the week, my boss and I had a police escort so that we could drive down the road to visit the ministry.

It wasn’t a particularly impressive police escort.   But we were following protocol and the convoy had all the hazard lights on.

All the hazard lights.

Barry The Bathroom Lizard expresses his displeasure when the laundry basket is moved
Barry The Bathroom Lizard expresses his displeasure when the laundry basket is moved

Someone in the lead car had a red baton thing that was being waved with great authority out the passenger window.

No one was going to mess with this convoy.

I’m becoming rapidly more disgusted and disinterested with the politics of this country. The PM refuses to declare a state of emergency, as that would mean a care-taker government would step in to try to break up this madness. Or the military will. This country is becoming more broken and dysfunctional as every day passes.

http://www.dhakatribune.com/op-ed/2015/jan/22/bad-kind-hartal

http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2015/02/economist-explains-0?fsrc=scn%2Ftw_ec%2Fwhy_bangladeshi_politics_are_broken

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/23/bangladesh-political-violence

http://www.thedailystar.net/perpetuating-violence-63248

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