mahkq asked: Hi, I am a student at UBC. My parents are from Bangladesh and I visit every 2-3 years. Next summer my fiancee and I were hoping to visit Bangladesh and later to darjeeling (In India). She is from Korea and she may face reactions similar to those experienced by yours. I would like to know if you have any recommendations or anything to note, I know you said you had a negative experience, I really love my country and would really like to prevent any negative experiences for her.
First of all, congratulations on your engagement! What a wonderful and exciting time this must be for you.
I cannot believe it has been more than a year since I have left Bangladesh and my heart does ache for a country and city that have recently suffered such tragedies. I need to address something I thought I had made clear, but judging from your question I see there has been some confusion regarding my experience in such a beautiful country.
My negative experience in Bangladesh had everything to do with the Canadian “development project” I was involved with, and nothing to do with the country itself. For Bangladesh, and its people, I have nothing but warm feelings and gratitude. Never ever have I traveled anywhere else in the world where I was welcomed into the homes of people I had just met, who owned far less than me, and offered me literally everything they had to give. I found the Bangladeshi people to be wonderfully inviting.
I found some things disconcerting though, when I was travelling on my own. These included the constant stares of curiosity at my face and skin colour when I was in public - unnoticed in the expatriate areas of Dhaka, but infinitely more noticeable when I traveled to rural areas. (At one small rural clinic, travelling with a wonderful Bangladeshi friend of mine, I was asked to sign autographs and was so embarrassed I felt I couldn’t say no.) It also made me very uncomfortable to sense that people around me were talking about me in a language I could not understand (and therefore did not know what they were saying).
I think that since you are a native Bangladeshi and you will be travelling together with your fiancee, you will not encounter as many of the same issues that I did. I would suggest that you explain the Bangladeshi culture and the customs of its women to your fiancee well in advance, including the clothing and dress customs (especially if your parents live in a rural area). Explain that she may receive unwanted attention due to the colour of her skin. It would probably also help her to learn a few key phrases (hello, how are you, etc) and if you would be kind enough to translate conversations for her at times. There are however, many Korean people in Bangladesh who easily pick up the language - I have heard that it is due to similar sentence structure and grammar.
I wish you luck with your travels and good things in your future life together! I hope you both have a wonderful time and return often to your beautiful country.