Benj Braves Bangladesh

Bus To Dhaka & More
May 19, 2007, 5:56 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

To catch you up to speed, I left Bombay, tearful, and took a flight to Calcutta, where I got my visa to Bangladesh and hung out for 2 days, then took a 12 hour bus to Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. Here the story shall begin:

After a too short bus ride through the gorgeous Bangladeshi countryside, I have arrived in Dhaka. I left Calcutta at the tasty hour of 5am (involving a 4:22 alarm clock and 4:23 reminder with alarm), I semi-consciously rocked on my overly air-conditioned seat through some of the greenest and wettest countryside i’ve ever seen, grudgingly falling in and out of sleep. The kaffafle at the border crossing was what was to be expected: being hurried into different offices and queues which all appeared the same, where some babu (beaurocrat) would check my Bangladeshi visa and my photo/ID page, and then look through all the other pages, seemingly to check if they were all there, and then return to my Bangladeshi visa, and repeat said process until someone else interrupted them by barking a question in Bengali. But I was still dazed from my 3 hours of sleep that it all just passed through me without too much concern.

I spent the bus trip gawking out the window and actively “appreciating” (entertaining thoughts such as “you are so lucky and privileged to see such scenes – appreciate this!, this will not come again, you are young and will only appreciate this in the future, do appreciate this” etc.), reading through a book called ‘Lajja’ (Shame) about the attacks on the Hindu community in Bangladesh following the destruction of that mosque in UP in Dec 92 (which has since been banned in Bangladesh, i picked it up at a bookstore in Cal) and being annoyed at myself for not having the energy to reach into my bag to take out my camera and shoot as much as I should, as I was so debilitated and tired.

Got into Dhaka and was somewhat underwhelmed by what Lonely Planet described as “one of the most frenetic places on the planet” but maybe that will eventuate. The first thing I noticed that distinguished it from the standard Asian bustling boom-town was cycle rickshaws, which easily account for 70% of all vehicles on the tightly packed roads of the city. These guys are kinda cute (about the same cuteness as bombay’s auto-rickshaws) and kinda annoying, but you have to find them endearing as they are just so elaborately coloured in such an unbridled, child-like way. They have a big crown at the back, where the passenger sits, which always reminds me of a Styracosaurus, and when there are so many together (which is like, always), they look almost like a collection of blooming flowers of different colours. So the scene is this slow moving stream of variegated flowers, punctuated by overbearing and ruthless trucks and buses, and the odd 4WD of one of the elite (which there are also no shortage of in the most corrupt country on the planet). The slums aren’t as apparent as in Bombay, and there isn’t as much English signing, but other than that it is your usual. It does feel a bit more ‘Asian’ though as more people are wearing longyis, there is more wood around, and people look slightly more Asian.

So I arrive at the bus station, and call Khurrum, my contact in Dhaka who Jocelyn set me up with, she knew him from her undergrad days at Brandeis. He decides that he will send me a car to pick me up. 45 mins later, while I am enjoying the cool humidity and the sprinkling of rain through the window and furtively reading this contraband polemic novel, I am greeted by this dude, who asks “Benzi?” I greet him with a wide smile and I am helped outside to a 4wd with automatic windows and even an automatic rear window, and we skittle through the traffic, out of Dhaka proper, and into the wealthy new development where Khurrum lives.

After a hearty dinner at Khurrum’s uncle and aunty’s place, the next morning I slept in till 10, had breakfast (a repeat of dinner, fried egg, buttery paratha, some aluu), read the economist, and writing emails. Khurrum is planning all these trips for me around Bangladesh. In 45 mins we are driving up to the northern border with India (i think its Manipur or Nagaland, one of the North-East states), so we can see the mountains there. Then on Saturday we are going to Sylhet, a big tea-producing region, and around that area. I’ll be very happy to be in the lush, tropical countryside, taking photos.

More updates to come.

I’m sure you are sick of hearing me say this by now, but you can check out photos from my trip at .

All my love,


2 Comments so far
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I am sure you have enjoyed your journey a lot. In Dhaka there are many places to visit.

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আমাদের বেঁচে থাকার জন্য খাদ্যের ভূমিকা অনেক। আমরা অনেকেই নানা রকম খাবার ভালোবাসি। আমরা সবাই কম বেশি মাছ ভালোবাসি। কিন্তু বর্তমানে তাজা বা টাটকা মাছ খোঁজে পাওয়া যাই না। আপনি কি সামুদ্রিক মাছ, গলদা চিংড়ি, চিংড়ি, তাজা জল-মাছ, কাঁকড়া, ইত্যাদি দরণের মাছ খোঁজ করছে? তাহলে ভিজিট করুন freshfish.

Comment by litonhasan

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