Myrtle Beach Country Club
(Chittagong Division, Bangladesh)

Many years have passed since last traveling through Moheshkhali, across the Shaheed Ziaur Rahman Bir Uttam Bridge connection found on the road north towards Badarkhali, on this unnamed and dusty (or even often mud-bogged) extension of the Z-1004 mangrove island road; northbound from the Adinath Temple and Bazar, out beyond the firewood collectors meeting-house and west from the grounds of the Australian Leadership University College, a location of quiet—yet decisive—lecture and instruction.

At the foot of the memorial bridge, on one of the eastern shore's main boat inlets, can one still take shelter at the casual fishermen's roadside café? Business having boomed once during the bridge's construction, this establishment was often times during its patchy history not actively in service; or at least not with regular posted hours. And was it actually even a café at all, or instead just a meeting spot beside the neighboring elderly couple's kitchen window? Appearing at random times of the morning, at lunchtime and even at dusk, this hospitable pair was always prepared to present (with the transfer of a few coins) a standard unannounced selection: warm rice and a strip of Shutki, fresh phuchkas, a glass of tea or even a variety of cool Shorbot drinks.

And what has become of the café's concrete waterside terrace, with its selection of assorted plastic molded chairs and 2 wooden gathering tables. As respite from the often blistering sun and heat, for years each of these tables supported an oversized blue canvas sun umbrella, both of which were embellished with the faded insignia of the (was it: the once, the former? As from searching, one finds that it exists today no longer) Myrtle Beach Country Club. This odd cultural connection is said to relate to the eldest son of this village couple. Due to political unrest in the region during the 1970s, the young man was sent to the USA, in order to study oceanography and marine sciences at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. The nearby resort town of Myrtle Beach, only a short drive from the school, was described by the parents to be the location of a summer holiday job for their son. He had held a post for four consecutive summers as both miniature golf employee and adjoining kiosk manager. Being strongly impressed by this foreign sun-umbrella design, two samples returned with the young man in the early 1980s, after the completion of his university studies.

As this eldest son in later years moved on, the same as with his other siblings, to other larger cities and towns outside of their hometown coastal region, the reserved and humble parents always took great pleasure in their children's journeys and adventures, as well as their exotic and sometimes even practical gifts.


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