Bangladesh Day 1: From Kolkata to Dhaka by bus

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We spent Monday on the bus. B, her dad, and I trooped into a Green Line long-distance bus in Kolkata at 9:00 am. We spent three and a half hours passing through grey, fairly uninteresting roads, heading westwards through West Bengal, India, toward Bangladesh. The fun began at the border zone, where an incompetent Indian government employee didn't want to let us leave the country; he had to escalate the conversation to a senior official before he figured out we were allowed to exit. Then we passed into no man's land, which, puzzlingly, was a busy small town street filled with people. An employee from our bus company helped us through what felt like a maze of badly-marked buildings, as we prepared to enter Bangladesh.

As we stepped across the border line, Bangladesh looked just like India, but for one thing. The police officers all wore matching green jackets. On the back of each jacket was the word "পুলিশ": "POLICE" in Bengali. It was lovely: we were in a truly Bengali nation, where signage was in almost-universally-intelligible Bengali, the language of the people, rather than in colonial English.

I imagine that this is how some some Jewish visitors must feel during their first trip to Israel, seeing Hebrew, previously experienced as a private cultural or religious language, used as the modern language of an entire nation-state.

I think I understand the tug of linguistic and cultural nationalism a little better now. In the Bengali-majority Indian state of West Bengal, official signage is frequently in English (or Hindi) in deference to the broad linguistic diversity of the state and nation's residents. As a Bengali, seeing "পুলিশ" on the jackets of police officers gave me warm fuzzies. I had finally set foot in a Bangladesh (literally: Bengali land).

Passing through the border, we got lunch, and got back on a lovely bus, where we slept, looked out the window, and watched Bangladeshi made-for-TV movies. Seven hours mostly flew by, except for a slow ferry crossing across the Padma, the river that traditionally separated East and West Bengal. We arrived in Dhaka at nearly 11:00 pm, and found ourselves stuck in the middle of a jam, our first sight of the City of Traffic.

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1 Comments

hiiii......
dear... give me some information abut the bus service frn kolkatta to dhaka... is any visa or else things needed for tht service ,, if yes then whre i get these things.....


plzzz help me

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Anirvan Chatterjee is a San Francisco Bay Area tech geek and bibliophile.

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This page contains a single entry by Anirvan Chatterjee published on January 22, 2010 10:45 AM.

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Bangladesh, Day 2: Indian visa headaches is the next entry in this blog.

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