Kids at the school
The hotel owner walked me across the street to his hotel (which coincidently was the one I had written down to possibly stay at from the Lonely Planet guide). He put me in a double room so I could sleep and change. I slept for several hours then walked downstairs where he was waiting for me with his son. He put me onto a rickshaw destined for the bus station. There I was ushered onto a waiting bus and given the seat of honor behind the driver. It was at this point I began noticing what I had been warned about, the entire bus and everyone outside of it was staring at me in amazement and clearly talking about me. Occasionally, a brave soul would dare to speak to me to ask where I'm from, my name, occupation, father's name (apparently very important around here), whether I'm married, and what I think of Bangladesh.
Typical home along the way to the temple
These by the way are the only questions I was ever asked and I was asked them repeatedly. Once someone asked the question they would tell others and I could hear whispers of "America" and "NeeKolee".
I was dropped off in the "village" of Kantangar where many locals looked at me in wonder. I hopped a bike-cart (for lack of a better word) along with a young boy on his way to school to the temple. It was a gorgeous ride through many farmfields where I could clearly see the locals working and doing their daily chores. They all seemed unfazed by the sound of the bike going by, but occasionally someone would glance over a notice me. At this point, chaos ensued as the person would tell the others and they would begin waving enthusiastically and children would start running after me as fast as they could to get a look.
Kids on their way to school
When we reached the school, no joke, every single child (there were around 80) ran up to me waving and saying hello. I shook one of their hands and the kid showed everyone her hand proudly. I took as many pictures as I could but was really surprised by how excited they all were.
At the temple, which was quite extraordinary and covered in tiny delicate carvings, I met a guy who spoke English and also seemed excited to meet an American. He joined me on my ride back and had us stop at a CDA training center where he was staying. The woman who ran the place showed me around where prominent local leaders are taught ethics and agriculture. They gave me cha and sweets before sending me on my way. When I reached the village, all the locals seemed to have learned I was in town.
It was all men, but there were around 60 of them standing around watching me eerily. I stood and waited for the bus but the next one just drove right by. One of the local elders laughed and showed me how to signal the driver, so when the next came a minute later I waved goodbye.
Back in Dinajpur, I checked out of the hotel and was told there was no charge. I then took a bus to Saidpur. Once there I was told I could only get a bus to Patgram (near the border) from Rangpur so I rode an extra hour or so. The bus driver than handed me to a very young rickshaw driver who hauled me across town to the Patgram bus. When I arrived 4 hours later, a very nice rickshaw driver who spoke not a word of English took me to my desired hotel.
(From left) Two guys who came to stare at me while I ate, the rickshaw driver, the teacher
There was a blackout so I was led by candlelight up to my room. The driver gave me his combo lighter/flashlight to use and then took me to the only restaurant he deemed suitable. He ordered something for me- ended up being fried chicken and goat with rice and cha. As we were sitting there eating, an older local man came up to sit across from me very excitedly. He was a local schoolteacher and was very happy to have someone who spoke English. From that point on he asked me questions grinning the entire time and shouting to the entire restaurant that I was his friend. (He reminded me a lot of the old king in the Princess Bride who when told she's going to commit suicide just says "That's nice, She kissed me!" Odd reference I know.) He then led me across the street to buy a flashlight before saying goodbye. I spent a few minutes with my flashlight back on the hotel before the power popped on. (I think the room looked a lot better in the dark sadly.) I read for a bit and went to bed, hacking away.