Jacob took some young family friends on a two-day trip to Kushtia. These boys had not traveled much, and they were so excited! They had a blast together.

Here is Rabindranath Tagore’s home. The fee was 100 taka for foreigners and 10 for Bengalis. Jacob argued for a long while to try to get in on the local price — as he grew up in Kushtia. No luck (though a few years ago, we did get in for the local price). Jacob’s friend Nathaniel, being a partly Jamaican Westerner brought up in Bangladesh and being blessed with darker skin, got in for 1o taka.

Here is a portrait of Tagore. Tagore lived from 1861 to 1941. He was a poet, prose writer, composer, painter, essayist, philosopher, educationist, and social reformer. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1913 for his poetry, being the first Asian writer to have been awarded this distinction.

I once heard a story of writers and poets coming together to dicuss literary styles and what was missing in Bengali literature. They reviewed Tagore’s work and decided that Tagore had done everything — he had touched every genre. He truly was a genuis.

Below is Lalon Shah’s mazar or tomb. Lalon lived from 1774 to 1890, though the details of his early childhood are rather unsure. He was a Baul guru and composer of Baul songs. The Bauls have a unique set of beliefs, which combine humanism with some rather aversive sexual practices. While Lalon did not start the Baul movement, he became the most famous Baul. Lalon wrote songs condemning distinctions of caste and creed. He wrote alot about eternity, God, and our human limitations.

This man is the caretaker of the mazar. Followers of Lalon come to sing at his mazar from all over the country. People also gather on Thursday nights to sing Lalon songs. For both Jacob and I, Lalon songs are our favorite genre of Bangla music, both for their tune and for the lyrics.

While Bauls are still viewed as semi-Muslims within Bangladesh, they will scorn all religious distinctions. But it is funny to see these two men, who are dressed in the fundamentalist Muslim way, listening to Lalon songs!

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