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On the 17th of May 2003 I departed for Bangladesh. The reason I was
making this journey was for my uncle’s wedding. The day I departed it
was unexpectedly dull and chilly. I was excited because it would be
the first time I was travelling to Bangladesh, where I would also meet
my cousins from America. The journey was expected to take twenty-five
hours, because my destination was about a ten hours drive from the
Bangladesh International Airport, My uncle was going to meet me at the
airport. I had only seen photos of my uncle so I was worried whether I
would recognize him, but when I saw my uncle, I recognized him
straight away because he looked like a lot like my father.
Coincidentally he was also wearing similar clothes as to those in the
photograph. My uncle was of medium build, quite tall, with long black
hair and dark in complexion. He was very happy to see me because he
had never met me before.
The environment and surroundings were very different from England; it
was very hot and humid. It was also very different from how I imagined
it. The climate and environment was like a mixture of Africa and the
Amazon, where there were occasional jungles and open dry lands.
My uncle had a car waiting outside the airport, the driver loaded my
luggage into the car. I sat in the car, which was like a furnace. The
amazing thing was that all the windows were closed and the driver was
sitting there quite comfortably. Before I could ask why he had all the
windows closed, my uncle remarked ‘Don’t open the windows, it’ll just
let more heat in’. It sounded amusing to me. I did not want to disobey
my uncle at that instance so I tried opening the window a little after
he fell asleep. When I opened the window so much hot air entered the
car I felt like the car was about to take-off, so I immediately closed
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The drive from the airport to our house was very bumpy and
uncomfortable, because the road surfaces were very broken down and
uneven, with big rocks and bricks sticking out of the ground.
Occasionally there would be ditches in the ground, which would make
the car jump and land on its useless suspension. Every time the car
would jump off the ground, I would hold my self off my seat until it
landed, which felt a bit better. The journey was long and tiresome.
The driver and my uncle though it was quite normal and did not seem to
realize how uncomfortable it was.
My uncle owned the national water company, so he was quite wealthy and
had built a mansion in place of the old house, which my late granddad
had built. The mansion was very extravagant and royal looking; it
consisted of twenty-three rooms; three gardens; a playing field and a
lake, which was quite adequate to cater for the wedding.
I chose the bedroom closest to the dining room because it was the
centre of action and always looked exciting.
In our house my grandmother, three of my aunts and my uncle all lived
together. My dad had a remarkable eight brothers and eight sisters,
from which sixty-three cousins derived. All of my cousins and
relatives were to attend this wedding and were due to arrive in the
next two days. Most of my cousins lived in nearby towns except some
who lived in America and England.
The next day, early in the morning, my cousins arrived from America.
They both were identical twins named Ahmed and Shakeel. They were same
age as me, fifteen years old. They had jet-black hair, twinkling brown
eyes and a mischievous look. I was shy at first, but that was not the
personality they shared; they were talkative and active. They became
good friends with me in the matter of a short time.
The rest of my cousins and relatives arrived and there were so many
people to meet.
To finish off the night about fifteen of us got together and played
hide and seek outside, where there was very little light which made it
creepy and at the same time exciting.
Now there were only two days left till the wedding. Vast plans had
been made and in order to meet the targets in time a lot of
preparation was needed. The plans looked more like a military
operation than a wedding plan. There were many groups assigned to many
different tasks: decorating the hall; table setting; decorating the
interior and exterior of the house using Christmas lights; transport
for the bride, groom and close family. Arrangements for cooks, hall
staff, waiters and security had already been made.
My uncle had invited four thousand guests to the wedding, which I did
not think was a wise thing to do because even though we had the work
force it took a lot of management, understanding and engineering. Most
obviously, Catering for four thousand people was not an easy thing to
do. After two days of complete chaos and pandemonium, there were a
signs of relief and completion. The original plan was designed so that
the family did not have to do anything, but it was a little different
from that. I was exhausted.
I was tired but excited, all of my cousins stayed over and we all
slept in the same bedroom. We did not get to sleep till very late
because none of us would stop talking. Finally I drifted off with the
cool wind blowing in my face from the fan above.
In Bangladesh the electricity would go off every so often, all the
fans would then go off and it would be boiling hot. The light was not
a problem because we had rechargeable lights, but you could not sit in
the light because of the mosquitoes.
I rose early in the morning refreshed and re-energized ready for the
big day ahead. From where I was sleeping I could smell the fragrance
of the tea that was brewing on the kitchen stove and hear the voices
of the maids preparing breakfast.
The bride and the groom were ready to go and the limousine arrived on
time. My uncle and my new aunt were taken to the car in the
traditional way. Flowers were thrown on top of them and the bride is
made to walk slowly so everyone gets a chance to embrace her.
Bengali weddings are very different from English weddings there is a
lot of tradition and culture involved.
Gates had to be made out of thousands of roses and palm leaves and
were put up at the entrances and exits of the house, which they
believed bought them good luck.
I wanted to sit in the limousine as well because I determined it would
be a more comfortable ride, so I convinced one of my cousins to sit in
the limousine with me. It was slightly better but it did not make that
much difference, the road surface was still bad.
It was dark and the air was warm and gentle, it was perfect weather.
The bride and the groom took their seats while we waited everyone’s
There still was half an hour till the ceremony, so I decided to pay a
visit to the kitchen where I saw the cooks who were nervous because
their job was not over until everyone had eaten.
The bride and groom were taking to the stage where they were united
and the ceremony began, there was complete silence in the hall,
something I had not heard for a long time. The imam read the sermon
and it was announced how much dowry my uncle was paying in tribute to
The ceremony came to an end and all the movement and noise restarted.
The first group guests were taken to their dining tables and were
ready to start eating.
They were about start eating, but they were interrupted when something
shocking and unwanted happened: the lights went out. My uncle had
forgotten to arrange for a electricity generator, now everybody was
sitting in total darkness. I could almost see the horror on my uncle’s
face in the dark, as everyone was beginning to worry and become
restless. One minute in the dark seemed like an hour to me and I think
it seemed a lot longer for my uncle.
As I sat there not being able to see my own hand, a light shone in my
eye. The light was in the distance, it was the light of a torch, which
was not very hopeful. I waited the arrival of the mysterious person; I
could not identify him because the beam of light was directly in my
face, as he came within a distance of two or three metres I exclaimed
“Who’s there “, but before the person could answer the lights came
back on in a flash. There was great sigh of relief from my uncle.
I went over to the tables were the guests were busy eating and
realised that some of them were on there second serving, so I assumed
they must have been hungry and eaten in the dark.
I saw Ahmed strolling around with a torch in his hand so I knew it was
him who was playing around in the dark.
Most of the people had finished eating and were leaving now.
All our family were sitting at the tables ready to be served. It was
planned for us to eat after everyone had left, which was good because
we could eat in peace.
While we were eating the servants were loading the presents onto the
I ate so much that I could not get up from my chair, but my
grandmother still thought I did not eat enough, she never thought I
I was due back in two days and to finish off my stay we arranged a
We roasted a whole lamb and various vegetables, which I had not seen
before. The food was succulent and satisfying.
I spent the rest of my days playing football and swimming in the lake
with my cousins. I also spent a lot of my time with my grandmother.
Sometimes I used to go and swim on my own late in the afternoon, which
was very relaxing because the water was cool and the sun was warm so
there was a comforting balance.
It was time for me to leave so I had to say good-bye to everyone, I
wished I could stay for longer but I had to get back for school.
My uncle dropped me off at the airport where I started the long
journey again. This was the best holiday I ever had.