My main knowledge of Bangladeshi history was that it was part of the British Raj, then partitioned into East Pakistan – and so is majority Muslim, and lives with the same scars of Partition that all three of the countries created from it carry. I also know that Bangladesh broke away from Pakistan in a war in 1971, but not much more about that – or how it’s relations are today with India or Pakistan.
I know that Bangladesh is extremely densely populated, and unfortunately tends to make the news due to natural disasters, vulnerability to climate change and sea level rise, or to issues with poverty, poor working conditions, and clothing supply chains.
As for culture, I know there’s a larger Bengal region that’s split between Bangladesh and India (Calcutta is on the Indian side), and that Bengali is the farthest eastern Indo-European language (and one with a huge number of native speakers). I don’t know much about literature, music, or art from Bangladesh, so I definitely want to use this month as a learning opportunity.
Food-wise, I know that Bengali cuisine tends to be focused on rice, beef, and fish, and both cashews and pistachios are common, which means I’ll have to do some creative allergy avoidance of those nuts. I’ve heard of pulao, a rice dish I think made with cashews, so I wonder what other nuts I might substitute and still stay pretty authentic.
I’m not sure how comparatively spicy Bengali cuisine is (I hope it’s hot!). My knowledge of South Asian food tends to be more on the Punjab-based cuisine that’s really common in Canada – I know there’s so much more variety all across the subcontinent, so this month will be a good regional focus for the larger area (kind of like San Marino was for the Italian peninsula).
I also know that Bangladesh is a strong cricket country – maybe this is the month for me to learn even just the basic rules of the game!
I was wondering why the Bangladeshi flag is ever just so slightly off-centre (unlike Japan’s, which is dead in the middle) – turns out this makes the red circle look centred when the Bangladeshi flag is hoisted on a mast. The difference in centring inevitably shows up in bilateral meetings:
Bangladesh, Japan, and Palau really should sit down and coordinate flags – Palau’s is also off-centre like Bangladesh, but at a different aspect ratio.