Friday, October 26, 2007
So there we were, in Joypurhat town, four of us returning to Uchai village for a party. We had just been to see the ancient Buddhist temple ruins, one of the oldest and most excavated historical sites in Bangladesh. It is a fascinating place, and quite beautiful. But that night, October 20, 2007, was a party for Sister Rebekah who was celebrating her Silver Jubilee as a Sister in the Catholic Church. We had a long way to go from Joypurhat, at least 35 kilometers, and being 6 o'clock it was already dark. So we hopped in a couple rickshaws and were off to hire a Tempo.
Now a Tempo is a small, three-wheeled motor vehicle, with a covered cab on the back. The entire structure is Bangladeshi-made and is welded together in a somewhat haphazard fashion. Not to mention the stench inside the vehicle, the gaseous fumes emanating from somewhere under the cab were nauseating. Luckily it was only a 20 minute ride from Joypurhat to Pach Bibi...or at least it should have been. If it were not for the carelessness of our driver and the insanity called driving in Bangladesh, it would have taken 20 minutes. But instead, there we were, standing on the side of the road, thanking God that we were still alive. For our Tempo, while avoiding an oncoming truck, hit a pothole, and in the most Bangladeshi way, the front wheel conveniently fell off the Tempo and we stopped, in the middle of the road with buses approaching behind us. Luckily for us, the buses saw us stopped and managed to apply the oft-failing brakes in time to not hit us. After a few men decided to move the Tempo off to the side of the road we got on a rather full intra-district bus (the kind you picture with people hanging out all the windows, even the ones that aren't supposed to be windows at all). Well, after that little adventure we made it to Pach Bibi and were on our Vangari (rickshaw) to the village near Uchai where Kaka's family lives.
After 40 minutes by van, and 20 minutes hetei hetei (walking) we arrived at his home. By now it was 8 o'clock and dinner was just being prepared. So we went and had some muri (puffed rice) and waited, and waited, and waited. After what seemed like an eternity we ate, a wonderful meal of pork and fish curry and rice. (On a side note, the food in the village is the spiciest food I've had while in Bangladesh, if it didn't make you sweat, turn red and cry, it wasn't hot enough, this was true for every meal, breakfast, lunch and dinner.) Finally, dinner was served at 11 o'clock at night. All the guests ate this wonderful meal, and after cleaning up, it was time to pray. At midnight, it was time to say your "Ave Marias" and so in Bangla they all prayed for half an hour. Following the prayer, it was time to get the party started!
First came the music. Songs, not in Bengali, but in their rural Urau language. They sang with the aid of drums and the occasional flute and tamborines (very biblical). And by half past one in the morning, the drinks started to flow. The local rice whisky, homemade, came out and people started to drink. Then we waited, and waited, and the singing continued, I wondered if they would ever get tired. But quite the opposite occurred, at about 4 o'clock in the morning (no typing error), the dancing began. And what a sight to behold! Maybe 20 men and women all joining hands in a circle, dancing and singing. It was a sight like no other. And I, being the unofficial guest of honour, by way of my nationality, was very quickly invited to dance with them. Now the issue was, that I didn't know the steps, because as I quickly found out, they have very specific footwork to their dances. At first glance, it appears as though they just walk back and forth, but in fact they have very fancy footwork, kicks and steps. Well after a few minutes of stepping on people's feet I managed to get the steps to at least a few of the dances and had quite a blast dancing around and around into the wonderful morning.
Finally by about half past six in the morning the dancing slowed and the music faded and people began to disappear, I was exhausted by this point, but was only to rest for half an hour before it was time to go to celebration Mass for Sister Rebekah. And so off we went, to celebration Mass, all exhausted from a long night of partying, only slightly dozing off during a Mass I only partially understood, followed by a cultural show and some mingling. Finally, after lunch, I had a good long nap. Because after-all, I was tired, I had spent all night "Partying Village-Style".