Saturday, August 30, 2014

The King of Pop lives on

In one of the more surreal nights, I spent the evening on a radio station in Dhaka, Bangladesh that was doing a tribute to Michael Jackson for the King of Pop's birthday. 

The station had an awesome Bangladeshi band in studio doing soulful, acoustic renditions of the King of Pop's music; I was invited to discuss the upcoming Next Level program in Dhaka, cultural diplomacy through music and how music connects us. I called MJ the original musical ambassador.

The pièce de résistance was the whole studio singing along to "Heal the World." 

After the show concluded, we sat around the studio eating American-style Chinese food (Yes, apparently we have co-opted Chinese food) and drinking whiskey (still haven't been to a Muslim country where I couldn't get a drink) as we watched clips from the BMW Film Series. 

As it got late, I bade the party goodnight and wandered into the naked, dead streets of Dhaka. The seething, choked city was serenely peaceful in the still of the night. I wandered through the empty streets until I found a bicycle rickshaw to speed me home. As I was bargaining over the rickshaw, two ladies appeared. In chivalrous fashion, I offered it to the ladies--only to realize they were ladies of the night and wanted me (and my money) not the rickshaw. On that note, I hopped on the bike chariot and sped away.

I got stopped once at a police checkpoint, by some guards after backsheesh. They pointed out that the rickshaw did not have functioning tail lights (!). I laughed. They made the international sign to grease the palm. I laughed harder. I smiled and offered to bribe them with a clove. They laughed back. I gave them a salute and offered "khoda hafiz" (Go with God). They smiled, and sent me on empty-handed.

I returned to the hotel with the power out, and wrote this all in my journal by LED flash light.

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