I haven’t blogged in a couple days, but that’s because I’ve been so busy! I finished up working at icddr,b on Thursday and we had a jam-packed weekend seeing different parts of Dhaka.
On Thursday I got to go to Kamalapur, a part of Dhaka right next to the train station. In a 1.5 square mile area, almost 350,000 people live in close-quarters. That’s half the population of Seattle, in a much smaller space. I didn’t get to see the slums, but what I did see was pretty cozy. In a given area there are about 25 houses for one kitchen and bathroom. Each family is anywhere from 2 to 5 people. So that means one bathroom and kitchen for anywhere from 50 – 125 people! I did get some pictures of some really adorable kiddos. Their mother was so hospitable, even in her small, one room house and made me feel right at home.
On Friday, we went to church at the American Club and then went to Old Dhaka. One of Daniel’s friends from work who has lived here his whole life took Tara, Maria who is a friend of Tara’s and I around Old Dhaka. And THAT was the real Dhaka.
Not to say that the expat bit of the city isn’t Dhaka. But Old Dhaka was astounding.
We got stared at and talked to, and people asked to take their pictures with us (as Tara said, this isn’t Disneyland and we aren’t Mickey Mouse). One mother even sort of shove her daughter next to us, while dad tried to get it on camera. Which was actually kind of funny.
We first went to the Pink Palace (which, yes, is an actual pink palace). It wasn’t the Taj Mahal, but it was beautiful. Lots of history too. We walked through the museum on the inside and then went down to the Buriganga river.
I’ll try to describe the river as accurately as I can, since nothing compares to actually being there.
We could smell from inside the palace. The palace is a good 50 yards from the river and it reeked. I’m glad I had a cold, cause it probably would have been worse if my nose was fully operational. We got down to the riverbank to rent a boat for a little while. The water is black. Not from shadows, or from the clouds blocking the sun or any other sort of scientific fact. The water was pitch black from the city. The sewage, the garbage…I didn’t ask what was in the river or why it was black…I didn’t really need to.
But, if I closed my eyes and plugged my nose, and thought of the pretty parts of Dhaka, I could pretend I was floating in Venice.
Ok…maybe that’s a stretch. But the Buriganga was still a great experience. It makes me appreciate the fact that I can go running into most any river or lake in the states without a second thought.
And last night we went to a wedding! Wedding’s here are three day affairs, and we went to the third day. There was a couple hundred people there and it was so beautiful! There were lights and sheer fabric (sort of like tulle) draped around posts and strung from the ceiling. It was gorgeous. Tara and I were the only white girls there. But I must admit…we looked pretty great in our saris.