While awaiting Nemo, his motorbike, Matt Dworzanczyk explores the southern regions of Bangladesh.
Chitta-chitta-gong! Nemo, my bike, should already be waiting in the port. A few days to clear customs and we journey on!
Finding Nemo 2
Did I actually think getting my Nemo back was gonna be smooth, quick and easy? Did I?! Well, they won’t release my bike. I don’t know why. They don’t know why, either.
‘Highlights’ of the Desh
Visited a garments factory today. I’ll have flashbacks to this day with every new shirt I ever buy. There’s such vast misery and homelessness in the streets here, but mere pennies for a six-day workweek in a menial work camp manufactory, is that such a great alternative?
Afternoon. Ship breaking yards on the outskirts of town. Locals speak of it with pride, quick to mention some recent Hollywood blockbuster that was filmed here. Nevermind the kids taking apart giant freighters with their bare hands. Couldn’t get anywhere near before being turned around… Maybe it’s better, it would’ve upset me.
Finding Nemo 3
By now, my embassy and consulate in Dhaka and the embassy in New Delhi are involved in retrieving my bike. Shockingly, they actually seem determined to help! Bangladesh’s minister of finance is also now personally involved and I just got off the phone with who I’m pretty sure was the minister of foreign affairs…
Don’t all those people have more pressing issues to attend to? And yeah — still no solution.
A Weekend Away
Spent a week enduring epic bureaucracy. Don’t want it to stain my thoughts of the country. I climb on the roof of a dangerously beat up bus — some nearby island is supposed to have wilderness and a beach. Yes.
Three ferries, five buses and one big headache later — Nijum Dwib. Simple place, but a relief to finally again see a vast land of green. Then, a pack of deer and a fox come out of the forest. A hello. And I’m glad to see them, too.
Finding Nemo 4
Customs guy asked me for US$700. I refused. So, he gave me a bag with US$700, cash.
No, I don’t understand either.
After a day of bureaucratic dead ends, to pass time, relax my mind, would be nice to have some rum. But rum’s illegal here — welcome to Bangladesh. Exception; a lonely, secluded bar in the middle of a military-base golf course. North Korea déjà vu yet again.
Finding Nemo 5
Some three weeks now. Maybe life is testing me, asking what I learnt in recent months… Guess I should feel frustrated, yet I’m mostly at peace.
Embassy sent me to meet a banker — a Bengali Lech Walesa photo double, I swear!
Started with a discussion of life, religion and love, complete with quotes from songs of Bob Dylan and Abba (yes!). Then, his admission that despite religious restrictions on films showing women, he is in fact a huge fan of Charlie’s Angels.
He got all red after letting that one slip out and was perhaps afraid that I’d somehow use it against him. He soon after provided me the last document I needed before customs promised to release my Nemo.
Four weeks late, in the dark, late night, on a beat up old pick up truck, finally, there he was, my little Nemo! Apparently he even visited Singapore during his cruise ship adventure! And while I was ready to drive off to never have to deal with Chittagong customs again, they insisted on having me over for tea and biscuits. Never mind, it’s nearly midnight. Considering all the conveniently named ‘tea money’ I paid, those were still the most expensive biscuits I’ve ever had.
For more on Matt’s films and travels, check out the Etherium Sky Production Blog at EtheriumSky.com/ProdBlog