Sunday, November 9, 2008

Dhaka Like a Charm

dhaka photo courtesy of flickr's ideas_r_bulletproof


Bangladesh. Among the most densely populated countries in the world with a population of 150 million people. It straddles the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta. Its government is parliamentary republic headed by a president; its prime minister's seat is vacant until the elections later this year. Its monetary unit is the taka which is roughly 70 takas to a dollar!


It is creepy the way these friendly locals stare and stare and stare at you. They have brought th art of staring to new levels - I am not kidding!

I was gathering my thoughts writing something at a vacant table of an internet shop in the Motijheel area of Dhaka. I was waiting for a vacant computer when someone sat beside me and stared like forever. I kept writing but after a while, you feel a little too conscious. Is my finger too beautiful to deserve a 10-minute stare?

That somehow concluded my first day in this intensely alluring city of immense populace. The volume of rickshaws seemingly bumping straight at me was an exercise of nerves, but it was fun snaking through the very heart of the Old Dhaka area. If it seems like such an ambush of the senses, I tell myself it's alright! People just stare at me everywhere, I feel like a star! I finally saw this magnificent Star Mosque, constructed sometime in the 17th century, and a tall muslim "priest" looked down on me, asking me questions with amusing interest. "What is your country? Are you studying? (Oh yes, I still get that question every time!)" I had doubts if I'd be allowed to take photos - or step inside the prayer hall. Guess what? Must have been my smile as I had a warm welcome from everyone! I had the whole mosque on my plate! I was even allowed to photograph those who were praying inside! Should I say I was tickled pink?

Today so far, I went boating at the Buringanga River; ruminated the halls of a Mughal-style Pink Palace; tasted a mutton soup with lentils; and somebody opened the shut gates of an eerie Armenian Churchyard. I read through the tombstones. And the cathedral door was opened, as the chandelier lights were lit. Then I was left for a good 10 minutes to say a prayer. When I left the gates, the church was padlocked again!
If that's not a full day, don't know what is!

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