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Bangladesh banter: Diary of an Indian on tour

Last updated on: February 17, 2011 14:54 IST

Where football is in coma…

Till a few years back football was a passion in Bangladesh.

- Complete coverage

The national team was the south Asian champions as recently as 2003 and even the Sher-e-Bangla stadium, which is now the home of cricket in the country, was the home ground for a local football team.

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However, that was then. Now cricket has completely taken over. World Cup or not, the people here are crazy about the gentleman's game. Blame it on the recent success of its cricket team or the lack of it of the football team, the latter has dropped many notches as far as popularity is concerned.

Bangladesh fans"Football is in coma now," laughs off a local scribe, adding, "People might be interested in one stray match, but it is no longer as popular as it used to be."

'Delhi will continue to improve, Dhaka won't'

The 19th Commonwealth Games in New Delhi last October, the largest sporting event organized in India thus far, ensured many positive, and infrastructural, changes in the national capital.

The 10th ICC World Cup in Dhaka is by far the biggest sporting event the city has hosted till date. And the Bangladesh capital has seen at least some positive changes in the lead-up. The roads, in the main parts of the city are newly-laid; the buildings seem new and all vehicles have been coloured as per government orders.

However, many eminent denizens of the city are sceptical that the change will be a continuous process.

"People here don't want change," laments Bankim, a management executive, adding, "They are used to narrow roads, heavy traffic and dirty surroundings and won't want it in any other way.

"Delhi has continued to improve even after the Games. But the work happening in Dhaka is for the World Cup only and won't continue after the tournament is over."

Either you know Bangla, or you know Bangla

For someone touring Bangladesh, communicating can come across as a major problem.

English continues to be an 'elite' language, Urdu is almost non-existent and Hindi though 'unofficially' is the third language. But that doesn't mean you can benefit from it -- at most, the locals can identify the Bollywood stuff that they watch diligently.

The only language spoken, and understood, by all is Bangla (Bengali).  

"It will be difficult for you to communicate if you don't speak Bangla," warns the hotel manager.

There is one glitch though.

The dialect, as also the accent, sometimes is difficult to understand even for those Indians who understand Bangla.

The fact that they speak the local language though makes them the best guides for their compatriots who don't.

Bujhte parecho?

Bikash Mohapatra in Dhaka