The atmosphere has changed noticeably in the last couple of months. Security has become an issue for many thousands more people although the vast majority of the population, more concerned with finding their next meal, remain unaffected.
But that’s because I’m not in Bangalore, where the Proteas are preparing for the second Test, but back in Dhaka where they were two months ago in the middle of monsoon season, lest you forget.
Since then the rains have gone and been replaced by a series of militant threats judged serious enough for the Australians to cancel their scheduled tour last month. The South African women’s team also had their tour postponed because of the security situation.
There are more armed security personnel at various, strategic street corners than was the case two months ago but it’s hard to see them as anything more than a visual ‘presence’ with their weapons slung casually over their shoulders. Two months ago we were free to walk the streets and I did so, visiting malls and markets and even visiting a tailor to be fitted for my first personalised suit.
Now we are advised to use a car if we want to go anywhere on non-match days during Zimbabwe’s short and hastily arranged tour to the country – but we have been advised against venturing out in the evening. There is no doubt the advice is erring on the side of caution but that’s understandable. Members of the diplomatic community we met two months ago still go to their various sports and social clubs in the evenings, but they are “a bit more vigilant now” according to one.
The fear or ‘terror’ might be a better word, amongst the local community comes not from the bullies or terrorists but from the possibility that Bangladesh may become isolated from the international community like Pakistan. The thought is so appalling that I cannot even persuade people – poor or wealthy – to discuss it. The subject elicits little more than a word or two and shakes of the head. “Disaster…it would kill us.”
In a few days I’ll be flying from Dhaka to Bangalore via Mumbai (or is it Kolkatta, I’ll have to check my ticket) for the second Test but a part of me will remain. International cricket was taken away from one nation’s people and now another is fearing the worst. It may seem trivial in the greater scheme of the world’s problems, but it is everything to millions here.
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