Category Archives: Local people

Old Dhaka. Again. And again

Next stop was ship a breaking/painting yard

IMG_5884 IMG_5886 IMG_5888 IMG_5887 IMG_5890 IMG_5893 IMG_5894 IMG_5900 IMG_5908 IMG_5905On our way to a slam I took a picture of a local barber

IMG_5909There was a wedding on the way as well and people were cooking on the street

IMG_5910It is very common here to buy cigarets by one and our guide has been constantly stopping by the little shops to buy them. At one of them I saw a lighter on a thread, very smart :)

IMG_5911Need some garlic, ginger or chilis? Here they are

IMG_5912Hanging out with the slum kids while drinking cha (black tea mixed with sweet condensed milk)IMG_5914 IMG_5915 IMG_5916 IMG_5917There was also another wedding and these kids got so colourful because of it.

Getting back on the boat, that is what the shore is like

IMG_5920Spice market again! Have been there before, but it is still very interesting

IMG_5921 IMG_5922 IMG_5923 IMG_5924 IMG_5928 IMG_5930 IMG_5931 IMG_5932

At that point we got off the boat and needed to take some land transport. This is what we got!

big rickshawAnd I also decided to give it a try!  look at the girls’ scared faced :)

11206807_10153238508270170_1455492386017251366_oIn the next place decorations for rickshaws were created

IMG_5937Because Friday is a day off, everybody was just chilling out and these guys were playing the game. Apparently, for participation you should give 500 taka (which is a lot!) and then the winner gets all the money!

IMG_5938Right outside this workshop there was a big Bangladeshi flag and we decided to take a picture inviting everybody around us to join

IMG_5941The Hindu temple was our next stop

IMG_5943 IMG_5944 IMG_5945 IMG_5947 IMG_5948 IMG_5950But it is a muslim country, remember? So we “visited” a very pretty mosque as wellIMG_5953

 

Of course we couldn’t get in, so here is a picture of the guys that was sitting outside selling some fish (I guess it was very small eel)

IMG_5954The day was long and the tour covered a lot of amazing places, so more to come tomorrow!

Old Dhaka. Again

Old Dhaka is amazing. I don’t know enough proper English words to describe it, but I love going there again and again.

This time we got on another tour with a guide, because, like I said before, it is impossible to navigate there on your own.

Our first step was the place where plastic is being sorted. Did you ever wonder how the little bits of everywhere’s plastic are being sorted and recycled? Well, here they do everything manually. Get the plastic-sort it by colour-wash it in the river-put in the sacks-sacks are sold back to China (where most of this plastic come from in first place). One sack is worth 5000 taka, which is about 55 euros.

IMG_5819Below the guy is showing us a plastic bag handle and a marker cap.IMG_5820 IMG_5827 IMG_5829 IMG_5831I made a friend

IMG_5823And the colours are great

IMG_5828 IMG_5826 IMG_5832Right by this sorting “facility” women are sorting different kind of plastic

IMG_5834What do kind do there? Well, they swim

IMG_5835From the river the plastic sorting place looks like this

IMG_5836From the boat we could also see the laundry, where local hotels’ and hospital’s (that is in the near) sheets and being washed. In the river.

IMG_5837 IMG_5839I wonder how they are still that white. Chemistry is a great science.

A couple of views on the way

IMG_5843 IMG_5844 IMG_5850We got off the boat on the other side of the river, the part of Dhaka, that is called South Dhaka. Living in South Dhaka is much cheaper that in the Old Dhaka, so people rent houses apartments there and then commute to the Old Dhaka every day. It is very common that in the 3 room (2 bedroom) apartment live three families, each in every room.

On the street we saw a group of young guys listening to somebody with a great interest. We asked our guide what it was all about. Apparently, the man was selling some “medicine” for sexual potential.

IMG_5854 IMG_5855 IMG_5856Remember that everybody is commuting with boats? Well, this is a boat taxi queue

IMG_5857Here is a beautiful view

IMG_5859And this is what I was standing on when taking this picture. Feels like walking on a soft carpet

IMG_5863The next stop was a garment factory. These are two 7 storey factories

IMG_5865This is a local garment “factory”. Even though it is an official day off, they still come to work for a few hours to make some extra money. The boy working on a sewing machine earns the most.IMG_5875 IMG_5868

This is the manager’s “office” (our guide is sitting in his chair). His portrait is on the wall, by the way.IMG_5869When we were leaving we saw people sleeping right there in terrible conditions. These factories work for the local market and there are no strict requirements for them to comply with any regulations. So they don’t.

Outside the factory we saw this guy. He was attracting more people and later there was supposed to be a fight between the snake and this little guy (don’t know his name). Although that is not the whole attraction. After that the man will start selling his “medicine”. Nice marketing.

IMG_5877A few pictures on the way to our next stop

IMG_5880 IMG_5881More great pictures and garbage views tomorrow! 😉

A very short wedding visit

Last week one of our drivers came over to our place and personally invited each of us to come over to his son’s wedding.

As you can imagine, I got very excited! Little did I know.

There are at least 3 parts of every wedding in Bangladesh — common big party, bride’s part and groom’s party. I call it ‘party’, but only the first one can be somewhat close to it (I don’t know, I haven’t been to the first one).

Sharee is a traditional wear for this kind of events, so I decided to rock the one I had for the New Year. This is one of my house mates and me!

IMG_5749When we came, we were invited to have some food. At that time it was about 2pm.

The food was: rice, chicken curry, beef curry, lemons to all of it, cucumbers/tomatoes, some very sour drink (made of herbs and fermented) to help your digestion, and see the orange rice? this is dessert

IMG_5756We were given cutlery, but of course the locals eat with their right hand.

This is the apartment where 3 families live.We were sitting in the living room, and a son of one of the families is sleeping there. On the wall is the poster he got for his birthday. Unfortunately I couldn’t take more pictures, but got a picture of a toilet :)

IMG_5758 IMG_5757

 

Next we went to meet the bride. She looked scared and sad the whole time. I got a bit concerned about that, considering especially that it was her second time meeting her future husband’s family. And that she was from the village and he was from the city.

IMG_5760 IMG_5762And after that we were apparently supposed to go home. That was it! That was the bride’s “party”. But luckily my sharee decided to unwrap.. Well, yes it was a bit embarrassing, because I was walking out of the apartment and felt how I was loosing my sharee and was being left just in my shorts. So all the ladies that were in that room run after me and brought me back to the apartment and rewrapped me in it.

IMG_5765 IMG_5766 IMG_5767 IMG_5768Here it is necessary to mentioned, that I was doing everything totally wrong. First, you are supposed to wear a special skirt and a special top with your sharee. Since I didn’t have any of it I was just wearing shorts and the top I had. And second, like I was told later by my local friends, my sharee was only good to go to a park with a boyfriend, but far from being good enough for a wedding. So yeah, ignorance saved me from being embarrassed even more!

But it was the best part of the wedding. The ladies were super nice and sweet and helpful and didn’t even laugh at my shorts (although I believe the stories will be told…)

IMG_5769 IMG_5772Do you see how much better this sharee fits? heh..

This is our driver’s wife

IMG_5789And this it the room where I was rewrapped and that was decorated to welcome the new weds!

IMG_5787As a final shot — the sharee I did myself and the one done by the local ladies

sariLadies definitely knew what they were doing!

Hindu street

Most of the population in Bangladesh is muslim, but there are some Hindu people as well. Not as much as there used to be, but still some.

In Old Dhaka there is a Hindu street and last weekend I went there to get some shell bangles, because I read that they are being done here as well.

On the way to the store we witnesses Hindu pray

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxl95lCWL-U

And then was wondering from one store to another trying to find a good deal. Apparently, non of those bangles are being done in Bangladesh, but they are from Sri Lanka.

IMG_5718I still liked them and got a few from this guy

IMG_5719There were a few people hanging out at the store, like this guy for example

IMG_5723Look at his rings

IMG_5721They all are somehow connected to astrology, I wouldn’t know a thing about it, but I liked the one with a pearl 😉

Sreemangal. Day 3

Have a look at the view from out guesthouse. There were only 5 rooms, 3 of which were occupied by our group.

IMG_5517We even had coconuts on our tree, see there?

IMG_5518First thing in the morning we went to rent bikes at the place what was also a rickshaw art center

IMG_5521 rick1 rick2And the adventure began! Kids would see us on the other side and thenl run along the river shouting “bye” or “hi”

IMG_5527And what do we see around? Rice fields, people working hard, goats and very very nice people.

IMG_5528 IMG_5531 IMG_5532I was trying to pet a goat and first this lady (you see her white fingers, that’s for that green leaf, paan, that is also why she has such teeth) was helping me to catch one and then the boys brought me this guy

IMG_5533 IMG_5535On the bikes we got to the wetlands where we were taken on a boat ride

IMG_5538 IMG_5542 IMG_5549 IMG_5552It was very quite, very beautiful and very hot.

We had our lunch at one of the fisherman’s house. They are six brothers living together and the family is considered to be pretty wealthy. The house was built very recently. And yes, in Bangladesh you eat with your hands (unless you are in the western parts).

IMG_5560 IMG_5561 IMG_5562I like their ‘wardrobe’.

Here are our bikes standing by the house. They were very heavy

IMG_5563The kids were of course very excited and there was a lot of picture taking and staring

IMG_5564

IMG_5616Here is a D&G shirt (says Made in Italy)

IMG_5565I think I mentioned before that one doesn’t have to be a professional photographer to take great pictures. A better camera would help though

IMG_5566In the city I stopped by the bamboo stall to buy a traditional Bangla hat and made a friend

IMG_5567 IMG_5569 IMG_5571After 10 minutes by the stall we got some attention (just on one side!)

IMG_5572On the way from the village we also found a little kitten on the road and kept her. She really loved the hat :)

IMG_5575Next stop — seven layer tea. Tasted and smelled like cocoa in my kindergarden

IMG_5579Look inside any street — people sewing

IMG_5583Of course some real tea

IMG_5586And the train back.

IMG_5589A couple of pineapples for a ride (15 take each, e.g. 15 euro cents)

IMG_5588A rare albino person

IMG_5591And our friends seeing us off. They are great.

IMG_5592Here is a video of the tea gardens we were passing by on the way back and the interior od the train (obviously, high class)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVMrDh4MMyo

Sreemangal. Day 2

Second day in Sreemangal started with a hike through the tropical forest at one of the national parks.

IMG_5419 IMG_5422 IMG_5431There was a heavy rain early in the morning and our route looked like this

IMG_5424It was beautiful and very hot. But very beautiful. Only one thing was bothering us a lot. A LOT. Many leeches. Many-many leaches crawling up the shoes into the shoes, getting into the ankles, feet and legs. In the middle of the walk I really freaked out when I realised that my socks were soaked not in my sweat, but my blood from the leeches that I was pulling out of my shoes.

brrrBecause it was a weekend, there were plenty of school groups in the park. We were popular, but the nice thing about it is that you can also stare back at them and take photos.

IMG_5440 IMG_5447 IMG_5450 IMG_5452After the hike and the leech stress we had a snack — a half of a pineapple and a half of apapaya . This is a 40 taka snack, or 40 euro cents.

IMG_5455The next destination was a pottery village. Here is a village lady cleaning the rice from the dust

riceThis is the rice before the shell has been peeled

IMG_5463Many cows and excited small kids

IMG_5465 IMG_5468 IMG_5487 IMG_5491They love looking at the pictures that were taken

IMG_5469Then each of us took a pottery class from a very patient and nice man

IMG_5481 IMG_5479And got a piggy bank as a souvenir

IMG_5492People are beautiful and very nice. This lady gave me a little piece of a mango bar with some spices — very typical snack.

And remember I was complaining that nobody was smiling back in Old Dhaka? I am taking my words back.

IMG_5488Our guide was a member of an association that is supported by some American NGO. He is promoting eco tourism in Dhaka and half of the money they are earning is being spent on the street kids. That day one of the boys had a “birthday”. In Bangladesh there are no compulsory birth certificates at the birth, some people often get it only when they take their high school exams. For that reason many people, especially ladies, have the birth year in their birth certificates that is a few years later than their real year of birth. With the street kids it is even more complicated. For this reason they just appoint a date for every kid. This boy was turning 14-15 years old, nobody new it more precise. But to me he looked much younger. When we met him the next day on the streets of Sreemangal, he was riding a rickshaw. Our guide told me that he was a drug addict, but they helped him and also got him a rickshaw, so he is working now and visiting their free school for the street kids.

IMG_5493There was a candle and a cake. I told him not to forget to make a wish and through our guide he said that his wish was to become a carpenter.

IMG_5494There were many people at this celebration.

IMG_5496

And also some music

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xYlz6ksUAU&feature=youtu.be

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rd53haUoUVc&feature=youtu.be

Here is Gulam

IMG_5509

It was overwhelming.

Sreemangal. Day 1

On the 3rd of May there was a public holiday in Bangladesh and I decided to go to Sreemangal for a long weekend. Sreemangal is here

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 20.53.25And it is famous for its tea.

You see how optimistic google is saying that it only takes 3,5 hours to drive there from Dhaka? Well, we rented a mini bus and it took as about 6 hours. Right. 180 km in almost 6 hours.

Our adventure started with a visit to the tea gardens. See the mountains far away? It is India.

IMG_5381 IMG_5372Usually women collect tea leaves — there should be two leaves and a bud — because they are more gentle. Men also help, usually with what needs to be done with the ground and other hard work. This is one of the guys

IMG_5391He showed us this lovely shy plant. Look what it does when you touch it

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95Rn2AQ7Ss4&feature=youtu.be

The lotus lake was absolutely stunning

IMG_5380 IMG_5396 lotus IMG_5395

We met the sunset there as well

IMG_5385Looking for some fruit we visited the market after.

IMG_5401You can buy fresh fish

IMG_5400Or dry fish

IMG_5403Or more dried fishIMG_5404Maybe some more?

dried fishAnother awesome view

IMG_5408This is what tobacco actually looks like (big dried leaves).

IMG_5409Of course bananas and something like plantains

IMG_5410 IMG_5411And chickens right beside it

chicken on the marketWe finished the day with a visit to a local cinema to watch 10 minutes of this Bangladeshi movie. It was hilarious.

IMG_5417Two more days to come!

Old Dhaka tour part 2

Just to show you that I was still following the tour even though the scenery around me was so interesting. An example of the British colonial architecture (you see the column?)

IMG_5255Then we took a boat along Buriganga. Just no words.IMG_5257 IMG_5258 IMG_5260 IMG_5263 IMG_5264IMG_5267IMG_5265

Here is also a couple of videos

http://youtu.be/VTfmadTHMbc

http://youtu.be/I4awfLz9vmc

This man was one of the two smiling people I met during this tour.

IMG_5268A couple of other examples of European architecture in Dhaka. The buildings were built in the 18&19th centuries in French tradition and were owned by the Hindus that left to India when the situation here became unsafe for them.

IMG_5269 IMG_5272Like I mentioned before, the most interesting things happened while we were walking from one sight to another.

cucumbers IMG_5282

One of the kids is holding a cricket bat. Cricket is a national sport here and right now Bangladesh is playing with Pakistan which is very important considering the recent history. So far Bangladesh has been winning and everybody is very excited about it. (Unfortunately, I am not a sports fan!)

IMG_5280 IMG_5277The final part of our tour was the palace that was turned into the fruit market. But to get there we had to go through the spice market. There is a lot of chilies, ginger and garlic there. Being Russian I have seen a lot garlic in my live, but not so much chilies!

IMG_5283 IMG_5284At the fruit market it was the first time when I saw paan. These are leafs that people in Bangladesh chew to get high. Haven’t tried myself and didn’t talk to anyone who did, but if I do, will let you know!

IMG_5292Thankfully, people in Bangladesh enjoy being photographed.

IMG_5295And here is my goat friend that I met at the market at the end of the tour!

goat

Hope that was enough pictures 😉

Old Dhaka tour part 1

Like I said before, Dhaka is enormous. The ride to the Old Dhaka from Gulshan takes about an hour on Friday, which is a common weekend, but on a regular day it can take 2-3 or even more hours.

Every Friday the organization Urban Study Group invites everybody interested to join for a tour in the Old Dhaka. The Group consists of some architects and volunteers who are working on protecting old buildings in Puran Dhaka (Old Dhaka).

Last Friday I joined the tour and it was pretty intense. One thing to understand about Old Dhaka — even the locals don’t know it very well unless they live there and a woman wouldn’t go there alone even during the daylight.

IMG_5234

Tours change every Friday, but some buildings are still visited almost every time (from the words of those who it it a few times already).

This tour included a visit to two Mughal Caravanserais in the Chawkbazar area, a couple of 18th&19th century mansions of the former Hindu Zamindars and the palace of Ruplal Das (which was turned into a vegetable market).

All these buildings are in a very sad condition, 100 times Belgrade I would even say. And I personally was more fascinated by the people, how they live and what they do, so below you won’t find many pictures of crumbled buildings, but mostly people and surroundings of Puran Dhaka.

One of the funniest things you notice walking around Dhaka is many posters of some people with random objects on them.

IMG_5237

They are candidates for the upcoming election. Each of them has a symbol and all these symbols are very simple. So far we were told that the fish and pumpkin guys will most likely win. (There was also a couch guy, I would think that he has good chances too!)

IMG_5247

As you can see, each poster is in its own plastic bag. Plastic bags actually sort of prohibited in Dhaka, will tell a story about it some other time.

political guys

Here is a look from a rooftop we climbed at to check out the view to one of the Caravanserais. Fairly speaking, the view over the Caravanserai specifically wasn’t that spectacular, but the overall impression was very strong.

IMG_5244

While climbing up the stair we even spotted somebody’s rings (hey Copenhagen!)

IMG_5242

Others though don’t seem to need any gear to exercise.

old dhaka guy

Btw, do you see people just standing and looking? That is a very common view. Staring is much more common in Old Dhaka, but still not as bad as I expected it to be. Most of the people will stare at you with a pretty grumpy face and even if you smile back at them it doesn’t help — they won’t crack a smile. I wonder if it is because of their hard life or for some other reason.

In-between we also visited a soap factory. And this was intense. Have a look for yourself.

IMG_5250

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8d0RHHn8oO4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kxApPzMHOc

Do you see little kids working there? Well, according to the law kids cannot work until they are 16, between 16 and 18 they can work, but only with a doctor’s approval. Here it was a different case. From what I heard these kids make about 100 taka a day or, according to a different source, 1200 taka a month.

Final look

IMG_5254

The second part of the tour including a boat ride, crumbled buildings of British and French architecture and more local faces comes tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Gulshan 2 circle

Dhaka is enormous. I am living in the most expat-heavy area called Gulshan. Gulshan in divided into two parts — Gulshan 1 and Gulshan 2. Both parts are considered to be classy, but Gulshan 2 is more classy than Gulshan 1.

Yesterday I was waiting for a friend at the Gulshan 2 circle, which is the centre of Gulshan 2. It is a roundabout and a very common place to meet people.

Here is a little video of what I have seen and heard (well, you don’t get the air pollution and some smells).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMxH6gS020A

Did you notice all the honking? Yeah, it is pretty crazy.