Life, 9800 km away from Bangladesh

  • Zarin Subah, Accra, Ghana, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2021-04-26 08:48:26 BdST

Ever wondered how it feels living somewhere very far from Bangladesh? Well, I’ll tell you.

I’m originally from Bangladesh, but currently, I live in the heart of a busy and bustling city in Ghana: Accra, which is also the capital. I came to Accra with my family -- because of my dad’s job -- when I was just three years old and we’ve been living here for 10 years already. Neighboured by Côte d'Ivoire to the west, Burkina Faso to the north and Togo to the east, Ghana, a country in West Africa, is pretty much right at the centre of the world. Therefore, it has just two seasons - wet and dry; and it also shares a time zone with London. Although we’ve been here for such a long time, I still dearly miss my motherland, Bangladesh.

As you guessed, life here is quite different from Bangladesh. Bangladeshis are as scarce as hen's teeth and none of my relatives is here except my family (my dad, mom and little sister). But I do have many other friends with different nationalities such as Ghanaians, Indians, etc.

Ghana looks distinct. There are sandy-white beaches all around the coastline (Gulf of Guinea), which makes going to the beach very easy and fun. The beaches look a lot like the beaches in Cox’s Bazar as, obviously, beaches from all around the world look the same; water and sand. Ghana also has Lake Volta; the largest man-made lake in the world by surface area. There are five-star hotels beside the lake. The magnificent landscapes of the merging of mountains and lakes makes it so alluring that one wishes to stay there forever.

A picture of me

The hearts of Ghanaians are just as beautiful as the sceneries over here. Everyone is extremely friendly and I can guarantee they will help you in times of need. People here hardly get into huge arguments, especially with foreigners. Ghana is also a very safe country and was ranked the third most peaceful country in Africa in 2020.

The food here is also different, although we get all the supplies to cook Bangladeshi food and basically any other type of food from all around the world; Ghanaian food is also great. Some of their local foods include jollof rice, waakye, banku and kelewele. One of the most popular is ‘jollof rice’ which is originally from Senegal. It’s basically a pot dish of rice prepared with tomato sauce and served with meat or fish plus in the cooking process, the rice turns bronze orange. I’ve tried different types of local foods here and I would recommend it for you too -it’s tantalising.

Although the food here is great, I miss a lot of food from Bangladesh that aren’t available here. Especially, fresh fuchka and palatable pithas by the roadsides. I also miss vegetables like potol and the thing I miss most is the delicious food (like polao and chicken) cooked with extra love by my relatives when I go to their houses.

For sports, football is the national sport of Ghana, but cricket isn’t as popular here. I still remain a fan of the two.

A picture of me exchanging greetings with the Asante King of Ghana at his Palace

Just like Bangladesh, Ghana has a painful past and rich culture. Slavery was severely practised in Ghana. There are still castles and forts to visit to learn more about the history of slavery. I’ve been to some of them, one being the Cape Coast Castle. We went through the underground rooms the slaves were kept in and heard the brutal punishments they were given for no reason. Honestly, it was very sad and just hearing the stories filled my eyes with tears. As in the past, Ghana was ruled by kings. Some of the kingdoms are still in existence but now the king’s job is more ceremonial just like the queen of England.

The malls and markets here are great and they have everything from toilet paper to cars just like Bangladesh. But sadly we don’t get any Bangladeshi clothes like sarees, salwar kameez and panjabis but the stores do have a great variety of Western clothes to choose from. Majority of Ghana’s people are Christians with just about 17.6 percent of people being Muslims.

A picture of me and my little sister at our school

Modern life in Ghana is awesome. The nights are quite but dreamy with blinding-bright street lamps and colourful traffic lights. There are gazillions of expensive and showy buildings with complex architecture which cast dazzling black shadows as you zoom around with your car during the night. The day is just as amazing but with a lot more people and cars. In a nutshell, the whole country looks like it just came out of the car wash but the thing I love the most is the sunset as it has a different story to tell every day.

We go to Bangladesh every year but we weren’t able to go last year because of COVID-19 that makes me realise how much we take for granted. I am still in touch with my relatives and friends through various social media platforms but I miss talking to someone in Bangla face-to-face either than my dad, mom and little sister. It may sound weird but I also miss the rickshaws. In Ghana, our main form of transport is a private car, and that just makes me miss rickshaws even more. I like it when the soft breezes blow my hair, how you have to put up the hood if the sun’s in your eyes, how the rickshawala wraps a polythene cloth around the rickshaw if it’s raining cats and dogs and how the rickshaw will go up and down after it hits a bump on the road or has to cross speed breakers.

We aren’t going to live in Ghana forever, but when we leave Ghana forever, it’s going to be a painful experience. After staying here for a decade, I feel like a part of this place. It’ll be hard to leave all my friends and the people I know as they are just like family. I will definitely miss every single thing here.

[The writer, Zarin Subah, is 12 years old and reads in Class 7, Roman Ridge School, Accra, Ghana]

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