The Norman Transcript


January 6, 2014

Election day tone subdued in Dhaka



Like all nations, there are people who live at all levels along the economic spectrum. During our stay at the Sonargaon hotel, as locals call it, there have been elaborate weddings with ladies garbed in gilded saris in stunning displays of fashion comparable to a night on the Hollywood red carpet.

Like all of the people we have met here, these obviously wealthy Bangladeshi were generous with their smiles, greetings and conversations.

Everywhere we travel in this nation, we are asked where we are from. They do not know Oklahoma, but they do know America. That our accents and towering height do not give our nationality away is a clue that there are more visitors from European nations than from the United States.

Bangladesh is 55,584 square miles in land area, smaller than Oklahoma at 69,903 square miles, but Bangladesh has a population of more than 147 million people while Oklahoma’s population is just under 4 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The primary language here is Bangla, but every Bangladeshi speaks English, though in varying degrees of fluency.

After lunch, our Rtv guides took us to tour their newest studio and then on to the construction site of a multistory building that will house their new station.

In 2008, the building housing Rtv tragically burned with the fire starting on the first floor. There were several deaths, and people escaped by climbing down cables or were rescued from the roof and through windows. They assured us at the current station that they now have emergency exits. Sprinkler systems of the caliber we have in the U.S. would have saved lives, but the buildings here do not have those safety features.

Near the construction site, we encountered some of Dhaka’s working poor, living in shanties topped by corrugated metal roofs. These tiny dwellings are very basic with room to cook and sleep on the floor. Many use wood for cooking. In more prosperous ghetto areas, we have seen goats and even a bull.

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