Friends on Dhaka Street

Utterly exhausted, we stepped out of the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka around 2:30 am, after nearly 24 hours of hopping on and off planes. The driver, who was supposed to pick us up, was nowhere to be seen and I didn’t have a Bangladeshi SIM card for my phone. Thanks to airport wi-fi, I was able to see the name and number of the driver in an email so I approached a young woman to ask if I could use her phone. She was quick to offer to make the call to our driver. Addressing him as her brother, she explained the situation to him and figured out where he was and soon we were able to find him.

One thing I love the most about Bangladesh is that there are no strangers. I’ve traveled a fair bit and have yet to find another culture that is as warm and friendly as Bangladesh. This tiny country, about the size of Wisconsin, is filled with nearly 165 million people. They don’t hesitate, for even a moment, to offer assistance and will place on you the title of “Sister” or “Auntie” or, my favorite, “Bhabi” which means sister-in-law. One of our drivers referred to my husband, whom he has never met, as his brother-in-law.

There is a gentle intensity about the beautiful people of this land. The speed with which outsiders or foreigners are given a place of belonging never ceases to amaze me. Their eagerness to offer assistance to complete strangers is something I want to learn from. Religion, gender and political views make little difference. Bangladeshis seem to see and embrace the humanity inside of each of us as if it were the only thing that mattered.

What would our country look like if we did the same?