Article Index: Bangladesh Dreaming

Tales from Hatiya

Diabula Did It
"With the weight of the unknown, the myths of sea monsters and risk of falling off the edge of a flat world they nonetheless set forth.  By the following century they’d made it as far as the Bay of Bengal..."  More...




 
English By Association
"There was a big chair for the office in which only he sat and from there, in manner and clothes, and not least with his preference for the English language, he..." More...


 

Ladies' Night
"...the formerly subdued heroine had become a gangster and a bikie, riding her motorbike around assassinating those that stood in the way of her families-don’t-agree-to-the-match-but-it-happens-anyway happy ending." More...
 
 

Open Doors
"Cousin Arif knew there were guests and on that account the likelihood of tasty food was high.  Stepping through the doorway and without a word by way of greeting he positioned himself on the chair..." More...
 

Sunspots 
"A visit to Nobir’s house is not a matter to be taken lightly since there’ll be food and lengthy discussion about the need to drink only one cup of tea since various household branches will vie to provide it and be disappointed if they can’t.  Everybody has a voice."  More...

 

The Big Wheel 
"She wasn’t there and yet it was her history; why I take now the liberty to tell it in the outline of my voice. Why I remember..."  More...



 

The Cow Lottery
"In a new language, words are like stepping stones across a stream.  The more words you have the easier it is to cross, the less you have to jump; the more words there are, the easier it is..."  More...
The Fisherman
"...Imagine spending up to ten days at sea at a time in small locally-constructed wooden trawlers, hoping the wood is strong enough to withstand the pounding of the waves when things get rough; hoping..."  More... 


The Modern Jajabor
When one jajabor does meet another, in my experience it’s a happy event, a meeting without formality and no more constraint to it than the hopping about of a sparrow on a windowsill.  There’s calmness in not needing to... More...



 
The Ramblings of a Jajabor
"There was a local: I didn’t know him then, Iman Ali.  He was witness to it, my arrival, and he was surprised to see a foreigner there.  Of course not everyone knew me then; and he didn’t..."  More...




The Secret of Prionkor's Tea
"The constellations rearranged themselves at a faster rate; with us, the four friends, the nocturnal hours managed far less.  A slight altering, from one sitting position to another, the lifting of a leg, the..." More...
The Tea and Coconut Rule
"Green coconuts were available everywhere so there was no difficulty in it.  They’d climb the trees and knock off a coconut; then cut it with a machete, making a..."  More...

Village Food
"I faced the days of May without the luxury of a fan that year, living in a tin house transformed into a mini-furnace by the season.  I would..."  More...




The Dhaka Life

Adda, the Genteel Sport of Talking
"It’s not that people in other countries don’t talk to each other, of course they do. Across the world people meet together for a chat, to exchange views or share food; there’s nothing unusual in it. It’s in Bangladesh though..."
 More...

 
City Food
The unworldly villager, the ‘Mofiz’, easily taken advantage of and not altogether at ease with modernity: a ubiquitous someone to be blamed for a haphazardly driven rickshaw, a lack of...  More...

City of Service
"I certainly enjoyed my interactions with the staff at a couple of fast food places much more after I started using their phrases against them, telling the waiters..." More...



G is for Gaibandha
"...rickshaw-wallah again started asking for a song. I told him that if I sing a song in Bangla it should do for the fare, thinking it might dissuade him. He knew I wasn’t..." More...


Getting To Work
"...a CNG pulled up, peak hour, Gulshan to Dhanmondi, and it usually costs the earth.  I asked the price and to my horror the driver said, ‘there’s a meter, isn’t there?’  It was very odd.  My immediate reaction, without a moment’s thought was, ‘and what kind of scam is that?’" More...
  
Impassioned Rage in Civilised Dress
"Without doubt a virtuoso accomplishment at the cutting edge of the twenty-first century Bengali nihilist collectivist pop art postmodernist movement, within the post-contextual stream, it is an artwork not to be underestimated.  Or at least, without being an art expert per se, that’s what I’m thinking..." More...

 

In the 'Hood
"There's camaraderie in the blood of our life in the 'hood, a usual commodity in the gangsta boroughs of a mega-city, like in the Bronx, like in Harlem, like in Dhanmondi..." More...

...meanwhile, back at the mezbankhana...
Mezbankhana is the term for ‘guest house’ in the Hatiyan version of Bangla and I use it to describe my Dhaka apartment. There’s a sign I had crafted, just inside... More...

Metro Dreaming
"A metro system is far more than transport.  It’s a cultural statement.  In Switzerland trains have a habit of leaving early while Tokyo is renowned for..." More...




Monsoon, A Feeling for Rain
"...there’s a choice: find a skerrick of awning and stand sardine-crammed with all the others waiting for the rain to stop, or giving in to it, accepting you’re wet and continuing on your way..." More...
The Life in Traffic Jams
"...rickshaws squeezed like citrus fruit filling every tiny crevice of roadway, weaving slowly amongst the battered buses and cars, turning left from the right side of the road or right from the left and... More...


The Rishka Wisdom
"In the tyres and mud guards, from handlebars to hood and right down to the panel of imagination, the canvas of rickshaw art at the back, in the rickshaw is wisdom.  Often called ‘rishka' by..." More...




The Unfortunate Doorman
"I can’t say I’m much of a hijacker, which in Dhaka means a mugger.  To the best of my recollection I did it only once, making a pistol with my fingers.  I can’t look much like..." More...

 16 December 
"The Bangladeshi flag hangs in the living room, in what has become a December tradition.  It’s about Victory Day but nor does the red and green go astray in the Christmas season.  I’ve never thought to write about 1971..." More...




Watching Rajshahi



Watching Rajshahi
"The vegetable market is alive! In the early morning hours, in the crush of rickshaws and carts, characters and cauliflower, amongst baskets brimming with produce of sufficient..."  More...


Bogra and Hatiya

"I suppose it was meddling but several years ago while we were staying at Lovely’s family home in Bogra I proposed a trip to the cinema largely on her behalf. Situ wasn’t keen but ultimately he had no choice in the matter. The evening came and the cinema-going party...  " More...




Prothom Alo Article...

Amar Bangladesh / My Bangladesh  "And it’s odd that feeling that used to be, when I would visit Bangladesh annually: on leaving Sydney by plane with the predictable ‘going away’ thoughts going on, only for the plane to descend twelve hours later into Dhaka, with an undeniable but technically incorrect ‘coming home’ happiness welling up inside..." More...



Bangladesh with Other Countries...

A Mountain in Need
(Bangladesh and Paschimbanga, India)
In the evenings, between the chatter over the price of vegetables, news of an impending marriage or a recent death, we’d make travel plans for entertainment, translated to include the other villagers.  More...

 

From Bolivia with Love  (Bangladesh and Bolivia)
"Knit two, purl one, so the patterns went, knit three, purl one, as the knitting needles clicked, as the ladies transformed the library of yarn on the shelves about the living room into jumpers..."
More... 

Legends of the Brahmaputra
(Bangladesh and Assam, India)
"From its broad sweep across the plains of Assam to the teardrop islands of the Bangladeshi delta, the Brahmaputran currents flow with legend. An actor to a tee..." More...


On Football and Dogs 
(Bangladesh and Argentina)
"...decorating Dhaka with Argentine and other flags, often in the most creative of ways such as the six storey mammoth flag variety, is an activity that could be considered..."
More...

The Arguments for Winter  
(Bangladesh and Norway) "I am liking those flies’ eyes: in blue with white polka dots, in tartan straight from the Scottish Highlands, the military camouflage variety or the leopard skin..."  More...
The Meaning of Seeing Things
(Bangladesh, Bolivia and Nicaragua)
"...waiting for some conversational front to arrive and stir the place to humour or interest. That’s when the pair of glasses came in the uneven doorway of the shop..." More...


The Culture of Sound
(Bangladesh and Nicaragua) "Standing in Farmgate, or at any other busy intersection in this everything-to-everyone city, you could be forgiven for thinking Bangladesh is the noisiest country on Earth. It’s not just..." More...


First Trip to Bangladesh...

Bangladesh Waiting
(Part One: Sydney to Benapole)
"I noticed just how close to Kolkata the Bangladeshi border was. ‘Now there’s a country I know nothing about,’ I thought, ‘might be a chance to find out.’"...  More...



Bangladesh, the Tourist Guide
(Part Two: Dhaka and Old Dhaka) 
"...there are a few million guides ready to assist with anything. From even before we crossed into the country, in the form of Mahbub, Bangladesh offered assistance..."  More...

(Part Three: Comilla) 
"Bangladeshi villages are brimming with views, not only literally, the landscapes of sublime rice fields, meandering rivers, rustic lanes and reposing villages; but..."  More... 



The Song of Chittagong
(Part Four: Chittagong) 
"...As usual, ours was a hotel where foreigners weren't common, and their curiosity combined with our lack of needing anything made it inevitable they would take time to chat..."  More...

(Part Five: Barisal Ship and on to Khulna) 
"... Sometimes a few words are all it takes to set a life-marker, dividing the past and future, stealthily adding texture to the latter. I’m thinking of  ..."  More...

A Place to Stand
(Part Six: Khulna)  
We always thought bideshis stay five-star, like at the Sonargaon in Dhaka.  I hadn’t had much experience with bideshis but because my father was... More...
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