Thursday, 15 July 2010

Old Dhaka

14th July 2010

Today I didn’t have to do anything or be anywhere so it was the perfect time to get lost in Old Dhaka. After twenty minutes stuck in a rickshaw jam worse than any little gridlock in London we decided to get out and walk into the winding streets that are impenetrable by car (although we saw a fair few very sad looking ponys – I wonder if they have a pony shelter in Bangladesh?...)

Entering the old city meant that we had left relative calm – yes that’s right we were walking into Lucifer’s furnace. It was hot, for the first time in days the sun had broken through the dense cloud cover and it was pounding on our faces and my back was a river of sweat, so with the sticky tone set for the day we discovered Bangsal or Bicycle road where every shop sells bicycles and also rickshaw art. Miki decided that he would like to buy a piece, but of course he was only offered top quality Korean vinyl – very tasteful and only 600 taka, how could we resist? However we managed and moved on to Shankharia Bazaar or Hindu Street – it was great to see women walking around the streets in this area, I have begun to feel very outnumbered in Dhaka.

After a dodgy lunch we went to the pink palace, there had been a downpour whilst we were indoors and my feet were now covered in mud, maybe not the best plan to wear flipflops… The pink palace was an oasis of tranquility and there was shade and somewhere to wash my feet. Apparently this was a place of beauty when it was first built, where visiting statesmen and dignitaries from all over the world would stay, but now, after years of disrepair and half-arsed cleaning it is looking more than a little shabby. The highlight was seeing the skull of the Nawab’s favourite elephant, it is huge and its eye sockets are too – why is this? Elephants eyes are tiny?

Miki, as always made a good friend at the palace who wanted to take us to see the Ostrich, one of the many (very ironically named) Rocket’s. They are giant paddle boats of a time long gone (somewhat like the pink palace) that steam from Dhaka to Khulna every couple of days. There is first class upstairs and second class below – I am sure that in the beginning , in 1929, the Ostrich would have been spectacular. It was shady on the boat so we stayed until the sun was beginning to dip, then we mentioned to the guys hanging out with us that we would like to take a trip on one of the smaller boats, so with a snap of his fingers, Ashish (the manager of first class) got a boat to pull alongside and we were able to jump on. Now if I am making myself sound cool with this, it’s all a lie… these boats sit SO low in the water, and they rock and the massive ferries loaded with sand and people do not seem to care. So I gripped the sides, hoping that crocodiles don’t dwell in the Buriganga and tried to look relaxed so the locals – and Miki - wouldn’t laugh. It got easier to enjoy as the dude, who seemed to think it was a good idea to stand got off (why would you stand?????) and I realized that no one else was falling in. It is definitely the best way to see Dhaka – thousands of people, transporting, selling and making things from their boats – the smiles and the waves but no one able to stare for long.

1 comment:

  1. It must be lovely to be so nice and warm. do you spend much time at the beach?
    Love from Dad.