Michael P


weird dhaka adventure
October 28, 2008, 4:53 pm
Filed under: touristy stuff | Tags: , , , ,

today the weather was really nice so i decided to get out and do stuff.  it’s like 75 and sunny and you can tell that everyone is in a better mood now that its not sprinkling.  I decided to make my way to gulistan and try to get to Bangsal street.  Bangsal street is also called bicycle street.  it’s where all the rickshaws come from and where you can get rickshaw art.  the rickshaws here are really colorfully decorated so i wanted to try to buy some stuff to take back to the states with me.
I started the day with catching a bus south.  it ended up taking over an hour to get to gulistan even though it’s only like 15 km away. the bus was 22 taka instead of 250-300 taka for a CNG.  it was really uncomfortable though, so i’m not looking forward to taking another one.

I kept asking gulistan khotai (where is gulistan) to people on the bus and finally someone told me to get off.  i didn’t know where i was and i ended up wandering around for a long long time.  But i enjoyed being lost because it made it more of an adventure.  I eventually found myself in a part of old dhaka that sold tons and tons of powertools, gaskets, o rings, generators, drive belts, and anything else you can imagine.  the maker side of my started thinking about how much i missed making things and i saw lots of good materials for making a nice rotating coffee roaster.  But getting all the stuff back to america would be a pain, so i decided to not get anything.

I eventually got hungry and found a little place.  i sat down then a guy sitting near me called me over and asked me if i spoke english.  He invited me to eat lunch with him and his business partner.  Another example of bengali hospitality.  His name was shadif and he was in the steel tubing business.  We had curried potatoes, curried beef heart, and roti.  It was pretty good.  His friend picked up the tab, even though i tried to pay.

Then i went with shadif back to his store.  We discussed all the countries he traveled to and i talked about what i was doing here.  he spoke like 6 languages; urdu, pashtu, bangla, english, arabic, and hindi.  I feel so lazy a lot because i only speak on language.  after cha with shadif i decided to journey on.

I eventually found bangsal road and was happy to see lots of bikes, bike parts, and rickshaw art.  you can get custom rickshaw art here, so i might look into that later.

Then as i made my way back to the main area of gulistan to catch a bus or CNG i saw a large group of people surrounding some westerners.  i was curious to see what was going on and then i started talking to them.  it was a group of emirates flight attendants that were in dhaka for one day on a layover.  I followed them around for a little bit.  for there 24 hours here, they decided to buy clothes.  They were getting in a huge argument because some bangladeshis were “helping” them carry the clothes they were buying and were trying to charge them 3000 taka for their services.  That’s an outrageous number.  Eventually their driver came.  I asked where they were going.  they were headed to the radisson.  its kind of near where i needed to go, so i asked if i could tag along and got a free ride that saved me around 200 taka.

Then i went out to the freeway and got a CNG to coffee world and now i’m here, drinking an ice mocha.  Its nice to have unexpected days like this.

Thinking back about today, I realized how different my day was from the flight attendants.  They all looked at my like i was crazy when i said i’d been here for 2 months and that i’d be here for another 2.  They had a terrible experience where bangladehis were ruthlessly cheating naive foreigners out of thier money.  I’ve had my fair share of these experiences, but it’s days like today that i will remember about being here.  Wondering through the streets of old dhaka and random people that have far less money than i do paying for my food and really showing me what bangladeshi culture is like.  Its about hospitality and sharing, not trying to make a few hundred taka from confused tourists.  it’s too bad that from now on these 24 hour tourist probably won’t have nice things to say about dhaka.

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