Yesterday I endured a 10 hour bus ride from Khulna to Dhaka. I’ll get more into why I did this soon, but the bus ride itself was significant in of itself. Here’s the breakdown:
- Nine hours of superfluous horn honking from which I probably have some new nerve damage. The additional one hour was fully warranted;
- Seven hours of the man across the aisle careening out of his seat to stare at me with great interest and then quickly looking away when I looked in his direction (not subtle);
- Four hours of cute, shy smiling games and intermittent peals of laughter with two adorable children (highlight);
- An hour and a half of being interrupted by protests and rallies for Bangladesh’s opposition party who will follow a similar route to that of our bus in the coming days. Sometimes the protestors banged their hands on our bus which was pretty alarming, but we were able to move past them and everything was OK (lowlight);
- Six hours of very pleasant, Dramamine-induced respite from feeling like I was going to throw up (lead foot driving regardless of speed bumps is a staggering understatement);
- Five seconds of bitter sweet eye contact and smiling eyes that I shared with a woman in a burqa who was fully paralyzed from the waist down and needed to be lifted out of the bus by her husband. I’d like to think the glance we exchanged was something to the effect of “I have empathy for you. I only recently have come to understand what it is like to be stared at constantly because I look different. Covering up some of the ways you are different isn’t so bad, huh?” At least, this is what I was trying to say and what maybe she was saying back to me; and lastly,
- Three hours of time when I stealthily tucked my Urbanears under my hijab and allocated half of the 54% of my iPhone battery left to the WTF interview with Jonah Hill (who coincidentally mentioned the exact type of eye contact I had with this woman as being one of the great pleasures of life); a Diana Athill audiobook that put me to sleep (love her, but yesterday I was in no mood); and fifteen minutes of learning that my respect for Lisa P. Jackson has reached new heights as I listened to her tell her charming and impressive story on stage at The Moth. For those of you that don’t know her, she was the former head of the EPA under Obama and now leads environmental programs at Apple. She is one of the people in my field who I most admire. Sustainability practitioners all have personal reasons for why they get into this field and it was great to hear the story behind hers. Someday I will tell you mine.
I am so happy to be back in Dhaka and off that bus!