November 27, 2010
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The exhausted sun gradually crept towards the horizon as a thick, gray blanket fell over the colorless sky that belonged to Bangladesh. Thousands of people, too many to count, were sprawled throughout the streets like ants scurrying out of their nests. I fidgeted in my seat; the never-ending honking that came from the long lines of impatient cars, created the most atrocious harmony. This was Bangladesh with it’s unique, inexplicable and perplexing mysteries that nobody could seem to solve.

It had been fifteen minutes and the car had only moved a few inches. I let out a frustrated sigh and returned to my i-pod; the only form of entertainment during these endless traffic jams. Searching frantically through my infinite collection of music, I clicked on a random song hoping that magically all the cars on the road would disappear and I’d be at school in seconds. Unfortunately, life’s just not that awesome. After finding one of my favorite songs, I closed my eyes and entered relaxation. “Imagine there’s no heaven, it’s easy if you try”, John Lennon’s voice sang through my ears. Quietly singing, I indulged in the powerful lyrics and flawless music that belonged to one of the greatest songs ever made. Wondering if we had made any progress, I opened my eyes but only found another pair of eyes staring straight in to mine.

The traffic light turned red, and the bewildered, hopeful eyes did not move away from mine. She was a young girl, her hair was spread throughout her face and a trail of snot ran down her rusty cheeks. “Imagine all the people, sharing all the world”, John Lennon continued to sing through my ears but for a minute, I did not hear him. Tapping on the window, she sung the words “Sister”, pulling on her stained clothes, she flaunted the poverty that had cursed her. I looked down at my hands, I was told not to give any money to those who begged in Bangladesh, as studies have shown most money that is collected is taken away by a leader or dean. As much as I wanted to, I knew it wouldn’t be right to give her money. That’s when I looked back out only to find two more sets of eyes; both belonging to young boys who crowded around the pea-sized window as if watching a television show.

And then, in a matter seconds, it happened just like that. Staring slowly, brightening up their faces; all three lips spread in to a smile and then sprung into laughter. For a moment, I forgot about the traffic jam, the screaming words of John Lennon and how I needed to get to school. For a moment my heart did not belong to a spoilt, impatient teenage girl but reached across to the laughter outside the car window. And then it happened for me too, the most genuine smile I had ever shared with anybody. Bewildered, wondering what was wrong with me, they exchanged puzzled looks and laughed even louder. To them, I was only a fool that wasn’t going to give them any money, but little did they know—they had just opened my eyes to a part of myself that I never knew existed. The traffic light turned green, and the car sped up, I watched them scurry across the street; dodging the moving cars.

“Imagine all the people, sharing all the world”, John Lennon’s voice sprang back in to my ears and finally I could truly hear him. My throat felt dry, and slowly my eyes began to tear. I imagined for a moment no barrier, no thin glass separating those eyes from mine. John Lennon was right, it’s easy to imagine if you try. The sky looked no different, and the amount of people and cars on the streets were no less. The impatient harmony of honking, and dust that filled the air remained unchanged. Just another day, with another extraordinary lesson. This was Bangladesh with it’s unique, inexplicable and perplexing mysteries that nobody could seem to solve, and this was the very reason why I loved it here.

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