Another day another adventure. I awoke at 5.15am when I heard the Village Head in whose room I was sleeping open the door, it was starting to get light, so I got up. I had slept fully clothed with a small blanket wrapped around my legs as protection from the mosquitos, my arms were exposed (wearing a t shirt), but I never heard a mosquito and wasn’t bitten.
I had missed sunset for photos the night before so wanted to see sunrise for photos, so I went for a solo wander through the village. All was good, then I spied a brick making factory. I decided to try to get to that to see the process. It was amazing – the speed which they make the bricks – the guys putting the clay into the moulds were like high speed freaks – they turn out thousands non stop – incredible – then by good luck they were removing the bricks from the kiln where they had been fired – a huge open area surrounding a massive coal burning furnace constructed out of the ground. The guys working were coated in dust, sweating profusely and the poorest of the poor – but incredibly friendly. I got lots of photos and saw amazing sights.
After that I headed back through the village where I was guest of an impromptu dance ceremony again. The music and dancing drew others in like moths to a light – it was an awesome experience.
From there I headed back to the village head mans hut, got my gear and headed back to Joypurhat on the back of his motorbike.
Once there I confirmed that I had been able to buy a plane ticket from Saidpur (1 hours drive from Joypurhat), to Dhaka and then again on to Chittagong. This would save me back tracking across the country on trains and buses, all was sorted and for NZ$125 I will fly.
Once I had sorted that out I then found out that I had been invited to meet the District Commissioner for the area, and separately the Commissioner of Police. First up I went to see the District Commissioner – he is head of the whole State, he has 67 Deputies and so on down the line – it is a huge pyramid with this guy at the top.
I was ushered in to what I thought was the office – palatial, but that was someone else’s, so further into the inner sanctum I went following my guide. One final door and there before me in a room as big as any I have been in was Mr District Commissioner. We chatted formally at first and then I started to wind him up gently to see if he was all serious or if there was some human underneath the solid public servant exterior.Within 5 minutes we were genuinely laughing our hearts out, he was highly educated and once the ice was broken we became best buddies – food was bought in, tea (cha), photos were taken and emails exchanged. We had a great time and I think he enjoyed having someone crack his dull exterior. Every time he laughed the 5 other people sitting quietly around his room observing would laugh also even though they had no clue what we were talking about.
As District Commissioner he is also the local Magistrate – he had to sign an urgent document while I sat there allowing a prison inmate to be released under escort back to his house to view the body of his brother who had just died – so it was work and pleasure together. After 45 minutes of chatting I thought I had better leave as there were more and more people wanting him, he would just flick his hand at them and they would disappear. He wanted me to stay longer but I excused myself to go to my next VIP.
From there I went to the Police Headquarters, on the way up the stairs I met the Police Commissioner who was just leaving. He had an escort of uniformed Police but he was in civilian clothes. He cancelled wherever he was going and did a backtrack to his palatial office – everyone saluted him wherever he went, all the way chatting to a scruffy Kiwi in sandals, dirty shorts and a stinky t-shirt!
I sat at his desk and he pushed a button on his desk (everyone has one here), his personal Police attendants (immaculately presented) arrived, instructions were given, and more food and tea arrived – I got a big bowl of pistachio nuts!
He was 43 and right from the start we hit it off. Again we laughed and laughed. He was a highly educated Muslim. At one stage he made some comment which I can’t quite remember but he was winding me up so I grabbed a pistachio and threw it at him across his desk hitting him in the chest, the other officers in the room got a hell of a shock, but he almost died from laughing – he said that no-one had ever assaulted him like that before and he wanted me to stay with him at his home for a few days because he liked my company.
I asked if I could go out on patrol with his officers to see them in action, but he said they had nothing of interest today but I could tomorrow. Unfortunately I can’t as I fly out so there was an opportunity lost. We discussed ISIS, drugs and ethnic violence. He is a really enlightened guy and it was a pleasure to make his company.
He wanted me to stay longer, but we had laughed for 45 minutes so I said I should go – he had deferred other meetings to chat with me. I said I had been to the Indian border and his ears pricked up – when I told him where he said that was an area of Methamphetime trafficking and people smuggling – he said it was a dangerous area.
From there I went back to the DMSS offices where I was staying. Tomorrow I fly from Saidpur to Dhaka at 10.50pm (50 mins) then Dhaka to Chittagong at 3.15pm (also 50 minutes)
I have had a great few days in Joypurhat, everyone is extremely friendly.