Dating in the Desh

Courtship, Bangladeshi style.

Bangladesh is a crowded country so getting away from the madding crowd for a quiet “date” with someone you are courting or being courted by… is somewhat a matter of real estate. Famous Lalbagh Fort, considered a mini Taj Mahal, looks quite different from what is shown on the Amazing Race TV show, but it is worth visiting. There is a mausoleum built by a grieving father, a harem with baths, sweet smelling flowers, and a 300-year-old pool. Interestingly, what makes the fort so attractive is not the tomb, pool, or harem. In a crowded country, the walkways and niches provide a private place in a public space for young Bangladeshi couples to court. This a romantic place and there must be something in the air.

Lalbagh Fort’s mausoleum to two daughters.

Love rocks!

Courting Deshi couples wait outside the gate for the Fort to open.
The harem at Lalbagh Fort with the crowded apartment blocks just outside the fence.

Bengali New Year

Wear red and white… see THE tree… join the parade down by Dhaka University… The new year is a time to clear old debts and start fresh! Everyone is merry and enjoys the carnival atmosphere. It was great fun. Truly festive.

The most photographed girl at the parade.

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As a foreigner here in Bangladesh, YOU may become part of the parade. I would guess that I had my photo taken, overtly and covertly, at least 100 times in five hours. I let many people take photos of me… Just as I took many photos of them.

Why You Should “Dhaka” Your Head

Bangla is still a mystery to me but I’ve learned that “Dhaka” actually means “cover” and I’m beginning to see why I might cover my head when I go out and about in Dhaka.

Open sewer, tree, dirt road, chicken bone...

The other day, I went walking to market. I walked up a busy road so I stuck to the side of the road (most of the residential roads are not that busy so I walk down the middle navigating around the potholes and moist patches). In my neighborhood (which is the wealthy area), the sides of the roads sometimes have a few stretches of sidewalk but mostly, there are piles of dust and dirt where it’s been swept into piles.

This particular day, I was walking along a road with trees on the left side (yes, I should walk on the other side so that I can face oncoming traffic. Sorry, parents!) because I figured that I could scuttle from tree to tree and be slightly protected. It should be said that when I go out, I usually wear some form of shawl or scarf. I recently bought an out-size one and I like that it can cover almost all of me (both from dust and stares). So I set out with my newly washed hair flowing behind me. Suddenly, something dropped on my head! I tentatively tapped my head to feel for viscous guano (wet bird poop) and felt nothing. That was more worrying but I saw that an electrical cable had come loose and hit me on the head on it’s way down a tree. Just one of those things. I don’t know what crud had accumulated on that cable but I wish I’d had my head covered.

Then I continued down the street and… plop! I hear the sound of something hitting the ground. Right next to me, next to the cement foot for a metal pole and a tree… is a chicken bone… imagine if that had hit my head? I look up to see what is causing this commotion above my head. I see a black crow watching me giving me a territorial stare. Or maybe he was telling me to cover my head!