Monday, March 14, 2011

Two Sides of a Cricket World Cup

I was thinking yesterday how here in Bangladesh I live in a world of extremes. Situations of extreme joy and situations of extreme sorrow. An abundance of food and thousands who go to bed hungry. Extreme wealth and extreme poverty. Good health and terrible sickness.
What got me thinking was my mate Raj*. Raj is 8years old, he makes his living by selling stickers at Gulshan 2 circle. I walk through that circle at least twice a day so have got to know him and a few other kids quite well, and would call them friends. Raj doesn't try to sell me stickers now but just comes over for a chat.
I haven't seen Raj or any of my friends from the Gulshan 2 circle for a while. It is all to do with the cricket world cup. The government made orders about cars and buses being tided up, they planted numerous flowers, put statues up, erected giant cricket balls as well as big screens to watch the cricket on, and generally had the place spruced up a bit. It has quite an atmosphere about the place - especially when Bangladesh is playing.
Unfortunately for Raj, sprucing the place up meant he was out.
But yesterday I saw Raj. He greeted me with a big smile and a kemon achen (how are you), I responded by saying bhalo ache (I am good) and then asked where he had been as I had not seen him in a long time. He tells me that the police beat him and took him far away. He tells me it is still difficult now because of the cricket. He explains all of this with a shrug of his shoulders as if to say, this is just the way life is, before seeing a potential customer and running of with a dekha hobe (see you again).
It is a place of extremes here. As people enjoy the glitz and glamour of joint hosting the cricket world cup, we have people like Raj who are cast aside and treated as less than human. It is hard to see both sides. I sometimes feel guilty for enjoying the less crowded streets since the poor have been removed. I feel sadness and anger towards a country that allows this kind of treatment of it's poor, and I wait expectantly, praying for God's Kingdom to come in Bangladesh.

*name changed