Fishing for Sand in Sylhet

Bangladeshi men fish for sand from India.
Bangladeshi men fish for sand from India.

If Jaflong provides rocks, then the rivers in the nearby areas provide the next best thing — cement. The sand comes down from India and is considered of the finest quality. It is very fine in size and seeped in my canvas shoes through the canvas.

The sand being moved down river.
The sand being moved down river.

The process of sand fishing involves getting pails of sand from the river bottom, hauling them up into the boat, letting the sand drain a little, and then letting your colleagues push the drying sand into the center of the boat. At the back of the boat is a bilge pump or a guy bailing the boat. The sand is ferried down to waiting trucks and then the trucks move the sand to hand cranked cement makers.

More boats of sand.
More boats of sand.

 

 

Fishing for Rocks in Jaflong

Medieval misery in Jaflong's rock fisheries.
Medieval misery in Jaflong’s rock fisheries.

As an alluvial delta, Bangladesh has few rocks. In Jaflong, in the northeast corner of Bangladesh, they fish for rocks. The rocks are fished from the river, broken, loaded onto trucks and taken off to be turned into cement. Jaflong sits on the invisible border with India and was once considered a beautiful place. Even now, amidst the horrors of backbreaking labor and touristy traps, you can still see the faded glory in the bridge and the hills.

Moving rocks from river to boat to truck.
Moving rocks from river to boat to truck.

It’s hard to see the beauty through the lifeless eyes and the maelstrom of medieval tableaux.

Sun sets on Jaflong.
Sun sets on Jaflong.
India is on the far side of the crowd.
India is on the far side of the crowd.