Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Insh’Allah [Lord willing]

Consider the rickshaw waller.

When crossing a crazy, crowded Dhaka street with unpredictable local buses and beeping cars whizzing by, you’d expect him to stop-or at the very least pause-look both ways, then carefully pedal across the street while dodging traffic. But no, looking neither to the left or the right, the typically response is to drop his head and slowly cycle across. Usually this causes cars to swerve, buses to honk, and blood to boil. But the waller doesn’t appear to consider changing his street crossing methods. After all, it’s Allah’s will that controls his life, so if Allah wants a rogue bus to hit him and his passenger, then looking both ways before crossing won’t save him.

The rickshaw waller could in fact be one of the best illustrations of Muslim Bengali fatalism.

Maybe this explains the mindset that frustrates me endlessly, the Bengali lack of initiative in improving the situations surrounding them. Why bother fixing things-say pot-holed roads-when it’s Allah’s will that controls their final state.

This lack of accepting responsible for what happens around them bothers me, a confirmed believer in free will, but at the same time teaches me a key lesson. My last blog was a rant about my decline of punctuality, but perhaps it was actually me coming to the realization that since I cannot control everything around me, it’s best to plan as well as I can and accept it when things go wrong. Especially considering that I live in Bangladesh, where things inevitably do go wrong.

Cassius says in Julius Caesar, “men at some time are masters of their fate.” In the of ill-fated country of Bangladesh the words I’ve learned to note are “some time,” as my best laid plans frequently do go awry.

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