Banglay lekhar chorcha ta onekdin dhorei nai.....so seeking forgiveness in advance.
This happened 4-5 years ago. I was coming back home after a hectic business trip. It was an Emirates flight, which meant that things were more comfortable at economy class than many other airline's business class.
I am not the kind of person who usually indulges in conversation with strangers. My way of spending long, lonely flights is through listening to music or watching a movie or two, and only taking a break when food arrives.
However, that day, I had to change my ways. The guy who sat beside me was exceptionally chatty. He inquired about my profession, background and what not! I found him quite intrusive and started judging him a bit.
But then he told me his story. He was a US citizen and was running his own, small business. He made a fortune and was having the time of his life in his mid 30s. When he thought things couldn't get any better, he met the girl of his dreams.
Both of them felt a connection unlike anything they felt before. Things started advancing like a movie. In no time, they had their fifty first dates, moved in together and within six months, they got engaged.
Unfortunately, just like the movie their life was, one fateful day he came back early to give the love of his life a surprise; only to discover her entwined with his best friend in a very compromising and improper position. She tried giving some lame excuses, that she was sad, drunk and he was only trying to console her. He really wanted to believe her, and he believed her, too.
I don't know why this stranger was sharing his story with me, but me being a good listener, did not interrupt.
I thought there was going to be a happy ending to this story, but I also knew there won't be.
He caught her having sex with that same person just a few days before they were "supposed" to get married, and that was a very traumatizing event for him. He cancelled the wedding, sold off his business and went in to recluse.
The next few months were a blur. He was spiraling down a path of no return. Drugs and alcohol became his best friends, and his bank balance kept on shrinking.
Until one day he just couldn't do this to himself anymore. He got up, checked his remaining bank balance, and went out on a world tour.
He deliberately choose the cheapest destinations, and also places where it was, as per his own words, "difficult to stay connected".
After hearing this, the mood of the conversation changed drastically. I converted myself from the passive listener to a very active participant. I told him everything I knew about Dhaka, and Bangladesh. Places to see, food to eat, people to meet, things to do, and what not? He was asking one question and I was answering five.
In no time, the flight was over and the jet was ready to disembark. I gave him my card and ask him to call me if he ever needed any help. He wanted to stay for a whole month. He told me that "If I am not staying for a month, I cannot live the life". He did the same thing in Nepal, Thailand and intended to follow his self made ritual in Bangladesh, too.
While giving him the business card, I saw his eyes making a specific motion, and I knew he will never "connect" with me, and this was going to be the last time I will talking to him.
I advertised my country to him with a lot of heart. I believe I managed to convert his skepticism to curiosity. I gave my two hundred percent to convince him that he made the right call to visit the country which boasts places like Coxsbazar, Sundarbans, Kuakata and St. Martins.
That was five years ago. If I had this trip right now, would I be able to endorse my country like that?
Not sure, not after what happened on 2nd July. I hope I will be able to change my stance soon.