Victory Day is a local holiday celebrating Bangladesh’s bloody war of independence from Pakistan. Exactly forty two years ago, Pakistan officially surrendered after a short but brutal war that resulted in the murder of (Pakistan claims 26,000, US sources quote 300,000, Bangladeshis will tell you 3 million…we all know how history can be!) Bengali civilians. I won’t get into the details but the war crippled the country and has really shaped and molded Bangladeshi national identity.
Last year, I was astounded at the enthusiastically patriotic nature of Bangladeshis. I naively assumed no one would be proud of a country racked by poverty, cyclones, corruption, ridiculous traffic, pollution and political violence. I was wrong. Swarms of Bangladeshi flags, which represents a pool of a martyrs blood in a green field, adorn rickshaws, CNGs, businesses, houses, cars, bicycles and pretty much anywhere else you can affix a flag. Bangladeshis are proud of their country and that makes me happy in a weird, hopeful way. Bangladesh has many problems but the country has so many things to be proud of as well.