I hope you've all had a very happy and peaceful (or exciting, as you wish!) Christmas and are looking forward to the adventure of 2014.
For the last 48 hours, this little corner of Edinburgh has been a hotbed of international discussion and negotiation as we've followed events in the lead up to Sunday's forthcoming elections in Bangladesh - and wondered if our (Jacqui, Allan, Simon and myself) New Year's trip there can, realistically, go ahead...
The final unanimous decision was reached last night - Simon's contribution pulling it all together with, 'if we go to Bangladesh, we will go to Bangladesh. If we stay at home we will stay at home' - when we decided, with regret, that it would be sensible to postpone the visit until later in the year.
(Important Note: Despite evil rumour-mongering, this is nothing to do with the fact that Jacqui and I tried on our trusty salwar kameezes and had twin tantrums when we realised they were, um, a little on the tight side and must have Shrunk In the Wash).
None of us feels the political situation is a safety issue, more of the 90% likelihood that we'd be sitting in a guesthouse in Dhaka for more than half the visit: national blockades and strikes mean that even if we got into the city itself, the chances of getting out again to Bhola are virtually non-existent. So, with thanks to Ali, for his sterling efforts, and to Hasina, Mr Hoque, Mitali, Bonny, Bachchu, Suez (read more about them in the amazing book, A Blonde Bengali Wife, available in print and e-versions, signed copies on request) and Dinah for their advice, we are now rebooked for an April jaunt!
Disappointed, yes. But relieved to have the promise of being back in Bhola in only a few weeks time. However, given that Simon's first words on seeing his Christmas stocking were, 'Santa Claus has been, now can we go to Bangladesh?' it might well be that we need to hail a ferry in Rosyth, do a round trip and end up with dinner in an Indian restaurant, just to placate him (he's 3, it'll work, trust me) in the meantime.
So, what to do with two empty weeks...? Suggestions on a postcard, please, but those who mention 'work' will be disqualified as sensible spoilsports. What we will be doing tomorrow - Jacqui, Allan, Simon and I) - is coming together and raising a toast to all our friends here, in Bangladesh, and everywhere, and wishing you all the very best in life, health and happiness for the coming year.
Love, Anne x