Friday, January 06, 2006

450 Chickens, 6 goats, 2 cows and a partridge in a pear tree

That’s what it took for the ‘wedding’ function banquet in the home town of Moulvi Bazar (not the partridge of course). All except the two legged animals were slaughtered by my dad. Having seen this all before this was nothing new for me but Teacher C, Little Miss C and Mad Cow (my sister in law) had never seen how their kebabs got to the dinner table wanted a front row seat – and that’s what they got. Cows and goats were brought in, subdued and quickly slaughtered in the traditional Islamic manner, jugular vein slit whilst saying ‘Bismillah Allah Akbar’ and it was then all over very quickly. The three voyeurs were sat yards away and recorded it all on camcorders for those interested in a certain type of snuff movie.

I had previously wondered how it was possible that so much halal meat was available in the UK without using mechanical slaughter methods used in most abattoirs, but the speed with which the chickens were dispatched reassured me that it was possible for livestock to be slaughtered quickly and remain halal. Not that it helps win arguments with vegetarians though.

The function itself went well which was essentially just the serving up of the aforementioned livestock. It seemed like the whole town was invited and of course I did not recognise most people including those who came up to have photos taken next to us. The guest of honour was my wife’s grandfather a prominent personality in Bangladesh’s political life and it seems that most if not all came along to see him. It was all slightly bemusing and press photographers came along to take pictures for the newspapers as well as armed police to provide protection.

One of my personal highlights of any trip to Bangladesh is a stay at my Nana’s (maternal grandfather) home. I say home but apart from the house which is pretty much just a large tin shed with some modern amenities, the grounds on which it is sited is quite impressive. There are three lakes (two large and one small) used as fisheries, acres and acres of fruit trees of almost all indigenous varieties planted by my Nana himself and plenty of paddy fields.

Being a city dweller, the remoteness and sedate pace of rural life was a refreshing change to the traffic jams, blaring horns and general hullabaloo of town/city life. Cows are still used to tread on the paddy to separate rice grain from the stalk. A sign of modernity added to the age old techniques was the use of large fans to help separate the chaff from the grain. Previously you had to rely on several hours of back breaking work of chucking the grain/chaff mix high into the air and let gravity and natural breeze do the work. I wonder if in a few years time whether the cows will still be used even though they have been around for thousands of years. Unfortunately few people actually stay here now, most having moved to the city for the benefit of the next generation’s education.

The story of how my Nana and his brother’s came to settle down there is interesting in itself. They are originally from what is now India in the Assam province. After independence from British rule, the colony was split into two, Pakistan (East and West) and India. This led to one of the largest forced migrations of Muslims from India and Hindus from East and West Pakistan with associated looting, rioting and mayhem (that’s the PG version). The land that my Nana ended up living in was one of those abandoned by a rich Hindu family and taken over in a ‘reciprocal’ arrangement for those Muslims made land-less in India like my grandparents. The thumbnail sketch over looks some of the legal and physical obstacles that had to be overcome to hold on to it though – land disputes cases take up something like 90% of civil law cases in Bangladesh.

We’re now on our last day in Istanbul. I’ve fallen behind in my blogs so am slightly out of sync. I’ll write about this when we get to Cairo.

PS. If you want to see some pictures of Bangladesh go to www.bouquetofdreams.blogspot.com

7 Comments:

Blogger mad as a cambridge bicycle said...

Fascinating!

12:21 pm  
Anonymous Little Miss C said...

"Little Miss C"...I found that very cute..it kind of reminded me of the nursery rhyme re. Little Miss Muppet... - January 6th 2006

6:29 pm  
Anonymous Teacher C said...

Well done Mr. C. I really liked the way you informed the readers of your detailed adventures in Bangladesh and well-informed historical background. Do you think you could read over your essay and cut out the crap?

7:58 pm  
Blogger Pink said...

Lol!!

i reckon u & mrs c should take it in turns to blog - or jst doa joint one - that would be so cool!!

hope the flat is well & mrs c isn't spending ur egypt fund in 1wk.

11:20 pm  
Blogger Mr. C said...

I'm glad you're all finding it interesting, but keep your comments clean! Mrs C and I are seriously considering doing a joint blog - watch this space.

6:05 pm  
Blogger mad as a cambridge bicycle said...

You don't blog.

11:38 am  
Anonymous Zebra said...

Hello,

The best thing on the Internet so far.

Regards,
shapely

1:53 pm  

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