And I’m back… it’s been a while. I think after 111 days of this photo blog, I got a little photo’d out. So it was good to take a break. I was still taking photos during my week off, and each photo I’ll post was still taken on the day in question, but quality and enthusiasm varied considerably…. Case in point Day 112, a photo of flowers at Gautam’s house.
Snapped on the streets of Delhi today, a roadside shrine (I guess?) to the Hindu deity Ganesha.
Arrived in Delhi this morning, and am already blissfully happy. I’m staying with a friend here; I was picked up at the airport by his driver and then enjoyed an amazing lunch in his airconditioned flat prepared by his cook. This is so the antithesis of my life in Bangladesh, but it’s quite amazing how seamlessly I am adjusting to the luxury. I’m loving it. Oh, and the shopping. I’m very excited about the shopping. Had a brief look around today, but a more concerted effort is planned soon.
My last full day in Dhaka, in which I boycotted the city and hung out at the Bagha pool. I’m so ready to leave now. Didn’t want to engage with the world today, so this is a photo of some flowers on the balcony of the VSO flat. This might give an illusion that the VSO flat is a nice place to spend time. But it’s not.
Reading the paper at the mosque down the road. It seems that daily newspapers are pasted up on various walls across the city, allowing for public reading.
I went on a walking tour of Old Dhaka today, which is a great way to see the old city without worrying about getting lost or not having a clue about the amazing history you’re walking past. We visited quite a few small Hindu temples which are now being used as housing, or have ramshackle housing structures built around them. Bangladesh’s Hindu population decreased significantly after the partition of India and Pakistan (Bangladesh was East Pakistan until 1971) which has resulted in many run down and unused temples in the city. This is a photo of a girl sitting in the doorway of her house that was built around one of the temples. To visit some of the temples we had to walk through people’s houses, through their living rooms and bedrooms. I’m constantly amazed at how open people are to having complete strangers traipse through their homes here.
Dhaka: the worst city in the world in which to be hungover. Fact. Especially true for those of us without AC, or generators. I’m done with this waking up in a pool of sweat business. All I could manage today was to drag myself to Pizza Corner, and back. This is the lovely man who ensured I didn’t actually have to walk any of the way myself.
PS Delayed in Dhaka due to failure of Indian High Commission to play nice and give me my visa on time. Stuck here until Tuesday now.
Because things like this still amuse me here: Mein Kampf being sold at the traffic lights in Dhaka. It’s just one of those things here that puzzle and amuse me in equal measures. I really don’t know it ends up in an otherwise pretty predictable pile of books.
I was in Old Dhaka this morning, stopped at traffic lights and noticed this scene in an alley off the road. I took the photo through the window of the car just as we started moving, so it’s a little blurred. In Bangladesh black dots are painted on children’s foreheads to avert the evil eye. I must admit when I first arrived I was amazed at how many babies seemed to have perfectly round, identical birthmarks on their foreheads. Yes, I know… but I worked it out in the end. This practice transcends religions here, and (if I understand correctly) it is believed that public envy may result in misfortune. So marks are painted on babies to make them imperfect, so as to prevent envy from others.
I went back to New Market again today (must stop buying second hand saris…) and took a photo of this man sleeping by the side of the road. I could do a whole series of people sleeping in Bangladesh. Rickshaw wallahs, fruit sellers, shoe repair men, day labourers and many others take afternoon naps where and when they can. On rickshaws, on pavements, on just about anything. And life carries on around them no problem.
I was out in Dhaka shopping today, and when switching from a rickshaw into a CNG (why can I still not easily get where I want to go in this city?) I noticed an interesting roadside tea stall. They are everywhere here, and it seems all one needs to set one up here is a kettle, little glass cups and a tin of condensed milk. While I regularly frequented tea stalls in Rangamati, I’ve never actually done so in Dhaka. I think I go into automatic ‘Oh loooord, I’m in Dhaka, get me off the streets ASAP’ mode when I’m here. So today, I took the time, sat down and had a cup of tea. This is a photo of one of my fellow tea drinkers who, despite appearances, was happy for me to take his photo. And I provided enough entertainment at the tea stall to have my tea on the house. Nice.
On my way to New Market this afternoon to buy second hand saris (soon to become pillow cases and maxi dresses), I passed some kind of street procession/party/wedding maybe? There were about 5 horse drawn carriages, and plenty of drumming, tambourine-ing and shouting. I couldn’t figure out what it was all about, but I was amazed that horses can remain quite so calm in the streets of Dhaka. It’s CHAOS out there, and most days I can’t barely remain calm. But these horses didn’t seem to mind it too much.
I went to Old Dhaka today, and wondered back into a Hindu temple I visited last time I was here. It’s such an amazing place, filled with possibly the friendliest people in Bangladesh. I ended up buying another Tulsi necklace, as modelled in this photo by one of the younger devotees at the temple. I’m now wearing the necklace, and being asked quite a lot of questions about it. Everyone is surprised to see me wearing it. If I understand correctly, wearing the necklace indicates that the wearer has made certain commitments or pledges regarding religious life. I think. Or maybe (as according to Google) wearing the necklace wrapped three times around the neck means the wearer is an initiated devotee. Either way, perhaps it’s best for me to convert it into a bracelet…
I officially finished my placement today, and left Rangamati. Some very sad moments, but I have some vague plans to come back one day soon. And so now I’m in Dhaka for the next week, while I finish up some VSO end of placement stuff (snore) and apply for my visa to India. I took this photo of some rickshaws, from on a rickshaw (classic lazy photo). One of the (very few) things I love about Dhaka are the colourful rickshaws. Rangamati is the only place in Bangladesh to not have rickshaws, because it’s too hilly. So rickshaws are very much a Dhaka experience for me.
A guy at work is related to the Chakma king, so today we popped in to the palace for a visit. My colleagues mother took us, and I couldn’t quite establish the family connection. I think she is a cousin of the king’s father. Or something like that. Unfortunately the king left yesterday for Thailand, so we didn’t get to meet him. But we had a cold drink in his house, snooped around a bit and visited the palace museum (which they opened especially for it was closed today) and the palace temple. The temple monks had, unbeknown to us, been waiting for us all morning. It turns out the king’s head monk is also related to someone at Moanohgar, who had told him we were coming. It really does seem that everyone is related to everyone here sometimes… He was very excited to welcome us, so we had another drink with him and the five other temple monks.