February 26, 2013

BCIM Car Rally 2013, Day 4 - Thank you Bangladesh

Hospitality may vary from country to country and culture to culture, but the essence of hospitality remains the same – “Make your guest feel at home”. And “feel at home”, we did. Today was our last day in Bangladesh, the very first country we crossed on this car rally. We covered about 600kms through Bangladesh:

         Border – Jessore: 70 KMs
         Jessore – Dhaka: 230 KMs
         Dhaka – Sylhet : 240 KMs
         Sylhet – Border: 60 KMs

But I have to say, none of realized where these 600 KMs went by, from Border crossing to hustle-bustle of Dhaka, from long deserted stretches to night driving, Bangladesh had a lot to offer! We started our day around 8.30 in the morning to head for the Indian-Bangladesh border, that’s when mixed feelings started developing. We knew we will be touching home ground in sometime but that’s when we realized our stay in Bangladesh is coming to an end. Some of us might not get to visit this country again. Starting from Car #1 till #20, everyone took their turns over the radio to extend heartfelt appreciation and gratitude to the Bangladeshi Govt., Local Authorities and of course, the very warm people of Bangladesh. Team Leader of the Bangladeshi Team extended a special invitation to each member to visit the country again.

There were certain moments in the last 3 days that all of us on this rally will remember throughout our lifetime. It started with crossing the border; for many of us on board, it was the first time we drove through a national border. Next one on the list has to be the visit to the National Martyr’s Memorial near Dhaka; all of us were taken aback by the history, beauty and architecture of the memorial. But, there was one incident that made everyone aboard respect Bangladesh’s hospitality. One of the Indian participants of the rally shared with everyone on the radio that her forefather’s homeland was a small town in Bangladesh that the rally would be crossing (from the outskirts) on the way to Sylhet. With deep sentiments attached, her relatives back in India had requested her to collect a handful of soil from her homeland; the Bangladeshi Team Leader informed everyone once we reached the outskirts of the town. The convoy was made to pull over to allow the participant collect a handful of soil for her to take back. And as rightly announced by the Control Car, “nothing like knowing your roots”.

It was the moment after this when a senior Bangladeshi official aboard announced that the Govt. will be sending a pack of soil from the participant’s forefather’s home via a diplomatic bag once she’s reached back in Kolkata; a gesture that can’t be expressed in words. Fostering friendship, indeed.

So our journey in Bangladesh comes to an end. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Bangladesh on behalf of the entire convoy. Thank you!

As I write this blog post, I’m back in my hotel in Silchar, Assam, nicely tucked-in and planning to catch some good night sleep before an 11 hour drive to Imphal tomorrow. But does that mean coming back home was uneventful? You have no idea what we witnessed today. Stay tuned for the next blog post, after today Home Coming will never be the same for us. More on it soon..

The journey continues…


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