I have one! Well, it’s not here yet, but it will be. Like most things have been, the process of getting one was a group activity. Jaynal Uncle has been on my case about it for awhile, but it wasn’t until he pointed out that officially registering Kaan Pete Roi wasn’t going to happen if I didn’t have a National ID card. Whoops, good point. I really do know nothing. Conveniently (it is so funny, sometimes I feel like someone’s smiling down on me, the way things work out and the way people are willing to help. So lucky!), open registration has been going on for a couple days, so all we needed to do is head over there with copies of my birth certificate and my parents’ ID cards. So Nilufer Khala (NK!) and Swapan Bhai and I took a little trip together. Registration was going on at Muslim Modern School, right around the corner basically. We rickshaw-ed it up. Gorgeous sunny day, winter is coming so it’s real pleasant out.
The school itself is huge, the kind of school that makes you grin as soon as you’re in there. Someone rang a bell – an old school bell, a metal disc that you bang on with a stick – indicating the end of a class, and suddenly HUNDREDS of little children come pouring out of the building, like little bugs, but not in a bad way. It was great.
It’s one of the last days of registration, so the actual registration desks were no longer crowded, and we managed to speak to a nice lady who filled out the form for us right away. She was sitting with two other ladies, and they all had giant stacks of paperwork in front of them, and it seemed to me like they were at least 4 people talking to any one of the ladies at one time. And yet they were marvelously un-flustered, and it looked like they helped people who were arriving immediately. We filled out the form. The lady was a bit puzzled by my LA birth certificate, but it all worked out. I went into the photo-taking room, which immediately made me happy. All these little photo-taking stations, set up with cameras on stands connected to laptops and little fingerprint machines and the like. When I got to look at my picture on the laptop, both me and the photographer started laughing, because my short hair is so comically sticking up. A nearby photographer, however, was not amused at all, and very seriously said that next time I should think about gel.
And we were done! Now I can vote in Bangladesh! My previous inability to do so has always left me vaguely guilty, particularly when I’m voting in the U.S.
(On the rickshaw ride back, the rickshawala looked around at the apartment buildings as he pulled into our neighborhood. He said to us, “Look at all these houses! Are they government houses?”
NK laughed gently and responded, “If the government gives us all houses like this, what are you and I working so hard for?”)