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January 6, 2014

Election day tone subdued in Dhaka

(Continued)

NORMAN —

Despite their obvious poverty, these people are friendly and smiling and happy to meet us.

The Bangladeshi are social people, and their strong family and emotional connections are apparent through observation as we see them work and play together.

Some of the working poor in Dhaka came from rural areas to find a means to earn a living — even the small huts where they live and the long hard days of work in the city are preferable to the hunger of even greater poverty back home in the rural villages.

My Bangladeshi friend, Yas, tells me that the employees of the hotel where we are staying live in much better circumstances than those who populate the ghettos spread throughout the city.

It is no surprise that most of the hotel staff, all of whom appear well fed and in good health, report working for the hotel for many years. These are good jobs.

The working poor who populate the hovels of the ghetto are the street vendors, rickshaw drivers, servants in the homes of the wealthy, and those who drive the vegetable trucks like the onion trader who was burnt to death in the pre-election violence.

In Bangladesh, as in most of the world, the poor seem to be paying the highest price for the nation’s political unrest.

 

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