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.
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.
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.
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.
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!