A Blonde Bengali Wife

A Blonde Bengali Wife
Travels in Bangladesh

We've Nearly Made It

Hello and Welcome!



Where you will learn everything you
need to know about the progress of A Blonde Bengali Wife, the travel
book I've written about my love-affair with the fabulous country of

It's a blog about Bangladesh, about Bhola, and about fiction
and creative writing in general...

A Blonde Bengali Wife:

First published in September 2010 and launched in October 2010.

Reprinted and re-launched in November 2015 as an eBook available from Amazon UK/.com

#1 Amazon Bestseller

Follow it on Twitter @AnneHamilton7 and @Anne_ABBW and Goodreads

Buy it here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Blonde-Bengali-Wife-Anne-Hamilton-ebook/dp/B016UDI86I

Saturday, 30 October 2010


Where have my blog entries gone.... hmm, posted to the wrong place!
Normal service to resume soon

Sunday, 24 October 2010

And the next event is...

So, following a very successful 'cyber launch' of A Blonde Bengali Wife and a spot as suthor of the week on AuthorIsland, the next event is the real, live launch in Edinburgh on 15th November.  The Committee (aka Juliet, Ruth, Caroline and me) has met, the plans made and the email invitations* have finally gone out (corrected) and hopefully some of the lovely people who have promised to attend won't get better offers or decide to stay at home and watch TV, but will be there!  It's worse than organising a party for yourself... but with simple angst - what if nobody comes?

More details as we go along, but in the meantime, I'll get back to finishing the story of the book.  Tomorrow that is, Internet signal permitting from the depths of Suffolk where Simon and I are staying for some serious baby-worship from family and friends!

*if you haven't received one but would like to come, please leave a comment here - if I already know your email addressit's a baby-brain induced oversight

Friday, 22 October 2010

Join me at AuthorIsland...


                 AuthorIsland Tiki Hut: This Week's Special Guest Anne Hamilton

Read how A Blonde Bengali Wife inspired the charity Bhola's Children...
Please drop in and leave a comment.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Successful Cyber Launch

Well, we're coming to the close of the cyber launch 'party'

But there's still a while left to visit and leave a comment

A long time in the making- it's here:

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Eid, March 2002

The eve of Eid means last minute shopping.

“Meat for the freezer—in case there is not enough to share from the slaughtering tomorrow.” Hasina marches towards the stall.
It is like seeing a road accident. The meat is hanging from canopy hooks attached to rusty scaffolding, and carcasses crowd the front of the stall like an obstacle course and passing by without getting a slap in the eye from a swaying piece of mutton flank is a laudable feat. Bloody off-cuts—skin, bone, offal, hairy ears, and glassy eyes—litter the floor. Hasina directs this dismemberment and supervises its stuffing into a jumbo-sized polythene bag or six.
It is heaven for the fat flies taking first pick of the goodies. Some settle on the hanging meat, valiantly swatted by a young boy with a witches’ broom, but the majority indulge in an uninterrupted gastronomic experience feasting on the cut pieces, crawling languidly over the diced meat destined for the Hoque family deep freeze like a holiday maker at an all-inclusive resort who cannot resist temptation.
Three fine specimens have been so gluttonous as to die mid-mouthful and are gamely gouged out and flicked away before the butcher slings the meat into a bag. Let’s revise that: two of them are gouged and flicked, the third I’m sure is now somewhere in a 5kg bag ready to be marinated in yoghurt, herbs and spices, and roasted on the barbecue. Luckily, I don’t have time to be sick. I am too morbidly fascinated by the hand of the man brandishing the knife. He has the tips of three fingers completely missing.
(ABBW Ch25)

Eid is a real family occasion, one I was lucky to spend with my adopted family, the Hoques, in Dhaka where we flew from house to house greeting and eating... Everyone kills (or buys) a goat or a cow and shares it amongst themselves, their relatives and anyone in need.  The sentiment is great but the public slaughter is not for the faint-hearted...

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Chittagong, February 2002

I lie awake for a while listening to the shouts in the corridor grow louder, jump when other residents fall against the door or turn the handle and begin, mistakenly I hope, to creep in. Munnu has a sixth sense for these occasions and growls viciously enough to receive a muted apology before telling me not to worry and go back to sleep. I obey.

I love this place. Love it. Like a ciné film, my mind runs through my adventures, my travels, my new friends, my horrors, and I realise for the first time since my arrival, I am truly at home in Bangladesh. I feel almost comfortable here. On this day, the 16th February, I have, in effect, fallen in love.
“Oh, would you ever listen to yourself? Cop on and stop being a sentimental old twit.” I mutter out loud, grin to myself in the darkness, and dream spiritual dreams of fried eggs and roti.
Needless to say, in the morning, my moment of truth, of peace, of contentment is but a memory. I awake scratching frantically. My left shoulder, arm and entire back are covered in raised, angry, red lumps already irritated by my scraping nails and brewing horrible, infectious pus. Where there are miniscule gaps, the skin is black and blue with tender bruising from too many jostling rickshaws and buses.
Awkwardly I shower, and then cover myself with every cream, unguent, spray, and liquid I can find, swallow double the recommended dose of antihistamine, and pray for a plague of locusts or whatever is the appropriate member of the food chain to descend on the entire mosquito world.
(ABBW Ch23)

It was that moment when it all came together: the place, the people, the work, the travelling, and I had one of those rare moments when I was exactly where I wanted to be.  It was then that I knew I wanted to maintain a long term relationship with Bangladesh - and to let people at home see this 'other side' of the country, the bit where life goes on despite (or even in the midst of) flood, famine and monsoon aadn most of all, rather than being different, human beings are much the same, with similar concerns and challenges and joys, the world over.... too simplistic?  I never knew it would end in a book and, more importatnly, that the book would inspire a charity.

Saturday, 9 October 2010



2pm (UK time)

Finally - well, the launch of Simon always had to take priority - the publication date for A Blonde Bengali Wife is less than a week away!

The first event is on 15 October and that is the cyber launch. It's an all-day blog event where people can stop by and post comments/questions about me and the book--and I'll answer them. The owner of the blog will pick one person who made a comment to win a prize which will be a copy of the book.

This event starts at 2pm our time so I'll make my first "appearance" as soon as it starts and will keep checking in throughout the day.  So please visit the site, join me there. leave a comment or ask a question - and offer some plain old moral support!

Visit the blog now for an idea of how this works. Be sure to read the blog post and the comments that follow....


Look forward to 'seeing' you there...

Friday, 8 October 2010

Rangmati, February 2002

The simple reason for the soldier’s reluctance to let me enter Rangmati, he describes with obvious relish and Munnu—I know him well enough by now—picks over and selectively interprets for me. Unfortunately, the soldier is unaware of this nicety and punctuates Munnu’s narrative with ghoulish gurgles and throat-cutting antics.
“He says that yesterday there was a kidnapping. Ten Bengali men are taken from their microbus. Two are found unharmed. The others are mostly still missing.”
“One is dead….” Observing the soldier’s garrotting motions, there is no need to ask how death occurred. “…And one injured.”
“Injured how?”
Munnu, pained at my insistence, finally yields. “His fingers and toes are no more attached to him,” he admits delicately.
Chittagong suddenly looks very inviting, so inviting I think we should go straight there. I have an abrupt urge for a large, bustling city with a pleasant waterfront and access to a tropical beach. A place that is safely in the opposite direction and full of people who will want to stare at me, perhaps even stroke my hair and ask me to marry them. What they will not want are my body parts as souvenirs.
I open my mouth to demand immediate expatriation to civilisation, and stop. The tableau of rolling hills, winding roads, the dazzle of the sun turning the ripples in the water silver, that early morning slant of light promising a glorious day, is the most perfect image I have ever seen.
Naively, I refuse to believe that anything bad will happen to me here.
Stubbornly, I refuse to waste the opportunity to drink in more of this Nirvana.
Politically, I refuse to give in to terrorist threat.
And, fatalistically, I refuse to give up on my mantra: regret the things you do, not the things you don’t do.
(ABBW Ch21)

Clearly I wasn't kidnapped, murdered or anything else but scared out of my wits for a couple of days, which was incongruous with the beautiful surroundings, and not helped by the fact I was staying in an underground room and over-stayed my welcome by a nerve-racking 24 hours...  Rangmati is also memorable as being the place where Munnu and I forged a firm friendship that has survived years and miles since.  If there is a hero in the book, it is Munnu.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

ABBW Website!

Courtesy of LL-Publications we have a website up for the book..... 

We can even take pre-orders so if you feel inspired.....


Saturday, 2 October 2010

Srimangal, February 2002

The land stretches to infinity, silent and lush against the setting orange sun, the peace interrupted only by the crunch of tyres and the soft thud of falling fruit as Hasina discards the last of the skins into the dirt. The path bends to the right where wrought iron gates sweep round a circular drive. A perfect, green lawn and flower gardens surround two white-washed bungalows. A bearer in spotless white makes his regal way down the steps of the main house, opens the car doors and stands respectfully back. Mr Habib, the estate manager, follows in casual contrastI have joined the cast of A Passage to India.
On the veranda, varnished cane chairs and small tables are strategically placed for shade and view, and gas lamps are lit as the evening falls. As the crickets emerge, punctuating conversation and drowning the mosquitoes’ whine, we sit back and admire the gardens; extravagantly watered, bright with flowers, and a swimming pool discreetly curtained by manicured hedges. Light-footed bearers serve ice-cold drinkstea, and biscuits from a linen napkin on a silver tray. Later on, as it grows dark over the hills and the heat of the day disperses, a two-tier trolley is wheeled out smoothly and silently.
“How is this done?” Hasina wonders. “Anne, do you see trolley’s like this in your country? We try one in London, but it is so noisy.”
“We had one just like that in 1978,” I say. “It was the rule for all aspiring middle class households.”
“And did the wheels squeak and rattle?” Hasina is interested.
“Almost certainly.”
She nods. “Here, the wheels would not dare squeak.”
(ABBW Ch20)

Spending a weekend on one of the many tea plantations in the north-east of the country was like stepping back to an age long gone and an experience very few visitors can achieve without 'contacts'.  For me, it came about  - as did so many other things - because of the kindness and hospitality of the Hoque family, definitely my adopted family in Bangladesh.  One day I hope to find a way to repay them... they are happy to 'star' in the book; I'm hoping they still feel that way when they'v.e read it!  I hope so.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Gulshan, Dhaka, February 2002

Bely is tirelessly tweaking and gathering and pinning material, eventually resigned that I am not, unlike in the best fairy stories, transforming into the new-look Cinderella. Standing back, she observes me swathed in the delicate peach, tottering on her high-heeled, strappy, gold sandals, my hair crudely tied up.
“Now, Anne, you are true Bengali wife,” Hasina says. “Turn this way, and this..."
She and Bely talk rapidly over my head. Bely claps her hands delightedly and rushes out of the room. I hear excitement in her rapid, high-pitched speech, and the careful repetition of “Bengali wife” as she talks to the house girls.
“She tells that now you must learn to cook Bengali. Come.” Hasina smiles. “We make samosa. Try. Is so easy. Try.”
“But Bely’s beautiful clothes…” I protest. It will be like trying to make scones in a wedding dress, trying to keep it pristine for the ceremony whilst egged on by several intoxicated bridesmaids.
“Bah. It washes clean.” Hasina dismisses my concern.
Metaphorically I roll up my sleeves and copy Parvin’s casual kneading. By the time I have flour reaching my elbows, grease spots on my chin, and a stringy, holey piece of pastry, Mitali, one of Hasina’s sisters and Reka, the masseuse, have joined us.
Mr Hoque’s head even appears around the door. “Women. Chatter, chatter. So much eating. I go to rest.”
“Now, put in the vegetables—like this.” Hasina leans over and deftly hides the doughy holes under the pea and potato mixture. Laboriously, I make rough, triangular folds and, pink with exertion, hold up six samosas, for inspection.
“We eat them hot. One each,” Hasina enthuses.
Parvin takes over again and deftly fries the snacks in hot oil. She hands the cooked platter to me. Uneven and misshapen, the pastry is by no means thin and crisp as it should be.
“You serve,” Hasina instructs me. “The Bengali wife serving her guests.”
“Who is Bengali wife?” Mr Hoque appears at the merest sniff of food, rubs his hands, eyes alert. Bely, claiming responsibility for my transformation, gestures at my outfit, the hot food, speaks rapidly. Mr Hoque roars with laughter. “A blonde Bengali wife. Very good. Very funny. I must taste her first meal.”
He bites the offered samosa, chews, and nods his approval. “Okay.”
(ABBW Ch17)

If ever there was a ready-made title for a book, then this had to be it.  The furthest thing from a true Bengali wife - I had (have) neither the poise, the behind-the-scenes determination or the flair for homemaking - but the honorary title stuck; everyone knew I was trying hard.