Bangladesh: First taste of Dhaka

Everything in Dhaka is a photo opportunity
Everything in Dhaka is a photo opportunity

7th December 2015

I left for Old Dhaka with Mr Mahmud who will help me with the 5 day trip and he showed me around the busy side of Dhaka. A short ride out of the neighbourhood and my senses were already being bombarded from all sides by the sights and sounds of Dhaka. To some, the noise and rubbish on the streets might make the city non-appealing and perhaps a bit too much. But, I love it.

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Heavy load

Since the country is developing, such energy is more evident. The chaos of a tuktuk-rickshaw ride and the traffic jams, from which one can hear how vocal the city occupants are, is a way to show that Dhaka , a city with 20 million people, is alive and breathing.  There is beauty in chaos and noise. There is vibrance here. Dhaka’s pulse is beating fast and you must be a silent observer to appreciate this.  I am confident to say that although I ‘m a failure at finding that happiness and satisfaction from within, I can appreciate beauty. I need to hold onto that or else, my life will turn out to be too sad.

I changed from tuk tuk to rickshaw then to the horse carriage until arriving at the wharf. Tomorrow, this is where I’ll board the 6pm Rocket Steamer.

Muslims praying and people passing by
Muslims praying and people passing by

The intersection between Old and New Dhaka was particularly busy and as night time set in,  the action really starts. Such vibrant colours and movements are especially evident against the backdrop of the Bangladeshi night.

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Night time and that is when the action starts

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I sat at the top of the horse carriage with my arms out and I wanted to scream out “ Yes!!!! Dhaka! I’m here” but for a second, I refrained from doing so since I didn’t want to scare Mr Mahmud. Nevertheless, I was smiling- not one of my fake “ get off my back- yes I’m capable of being happy” smile but a  genuine one. I wasn’t used to an open toothy smile since childhood bullying still haunts me. Yet, I’m glad that in the last month of 2015, all such trivial ‘concerns’ are replaced by the new me- someone who wants to jump right into a foreign land and live life a little, not giving a rat’s ass about perceptions and judgements. So, I let out a cheer for Dhaka and one big happy smile.

Tuk tuk, Rickshaw and a horse carriage all on my first day in Dhaka
Tuk tuk, Rickshaw and a horse carriage all on my first day in Dhaka

The foreign idiot, sitting on top of the horse carriage that used to be a familiar form of transportation in Dhaka, must be a sight for some locals.

The walk around the wharf gave an insight into how people commute in the country.

Bangladesh is a honeypot for someone like me who love taking photos
Bangladesh is a honeypot for great photo opportunities

I was fond of all the ferries, steamers, ships and boats lining up and waiting for their customers as well as the people calling out to one another. The various snack shops and cha (tea) stands are particularly cute.

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Snack stores on boats.

It only took me a second to realise that the people in Bangladesh, despite being relatively poor when compared to others, are happy and very friendly. Having money doesn’t mean much- what matters the most is being spiritually rich. Their curious stares and lovely smiles reminded me the contrasting and miserable state that I so often find myself in. Sometimes, I  create happiness (even if it is temporary) to pull myself out of a dump instead of draining the positive energy out of others. I’m an addict and I guess that if I can still find excitement out of my obsession then that might not be a terrible thing. I know for sure that when I look back at my Bangladesh trip in 2015, I’ll always remember how happy the country and her people made me feel and how truly content I looked.

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I met up with Setu- a very knowledgeable guide.  He is proud of Bangladesh and I like his sense of pride and honesty since he spoke candidly about his country and all of her challenges and achievements. I think we’ll have a great trip …well, I’ll probably drive him insane with my questions but only 5 days so I think he’ll survive!