Muddy Times




Visiting our schools—both for our school inspectors and for me—is muddy work, and it’s not uncommon (as in this case) that you end up on a boat with not just fellow travellers, but ducks, live fish swimming in buckets, and even cows.  (How they get a cow on board what is not much more than an oversize rowing boat is another story!)    

In this case, we were on our way to Char Kachua, to visit one our newest schools.  The river Tetulia is not Bangladesh’s biggest, but by Australian standards, an absolute monster.  Last year a boat carrying one of our teachers capsized with everyone on board, thankfully, surviving.  These journeys used to be pretty scary for me, as I have an outsized fear of drowning proportional to the stories I’ve heard (and occasionally seen) of boats tipping over.  

This time, three trawlers went over in what we call in Australia not particularly rough weather.  Over 20 sailors/ fishermen drowned.  As far as I can tell these boats, even the ocean going ones, have no keel, and they hop skip and quiver with every wave.  The children by and large, as soon as they are old enough, love to swim in the not-very—pristine waters, and even in the monsoon seem to take childlike delight in the sheer child-like muddiness of it all.  Cricket matches take place at crossroads where the bitumen is big enough to allow at least a decent wicket (and pretty well no outfield), while soccer matches are simply slip-slide mud fests.  The game, however, must go on.

Olav Murlink

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