Oh, Bangladesh. To unpack this country is the stuff of lifetimes. But let’s begin with this: Bangladeshis are a curious lot. And there are a lot of them, as in 150 million or so, all living in a country the size of the state of Wisconsin.
Bangladesh doesn’t get many foreign visitors, either. So if you do drop in and take a walk just about anywhere, chances are that you’ll be swamped in humanity. (God forbid that you actually stop moving, for you might not be able to move again.)
Audrey in the role of the Pied Piper at a village school.
And people will ask many questions — that help them learn about us and that we believe say much about their culture. So we offer images of a few of the people we’ve met, the questions they’ve asked, and the way they’ve asked them. Continue Reading »
Open the panorama below and you might be wondering, “Is that really Bangladesh??”
In scenes like this one at the indigenous market in the town of Bandarban, it’s easy to forget which country we’re visiting. Bandarban is part of an area known as the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT). CHT’s rolling hills in southeastern Bangladesh are home to over fifteen indigenous groups, many of which have their origins in far eastern India, Burma and Southeast Asia.
While the market had some unusual features for one in Bangladesh — a monitor lizard butchered to bits at the river’s edge, a huge pig sawed in half mid-market, massive sting rays hanging on hooks, and sacks jumping with plump frogs — something else stood out. Women. Continue Reading »
Have you ever set off for a destination not really caring whether you actually arrive?
The other morning, we hopped on rented single speed bikes (they looked like racing bikes, but rode like penny farthings) and headed off into the tea plantation hills of eastern Bangladesh. Our destination: Madhabpur Lake, 25 kilometers outside of our base of Srimongal.
We thought the lake would be nice, but figured the bicycle journey there and back would offer some interesting experiences and a new perspective on the people who lived in the villages and amongst the tea plantations.
As often happens, getting to the lake was far more interesting than the lake itself. And this got me to thinking: What was the purpose of the lake – the destination — in the first place? Continue Reading »
It’s just about impossible to imagine Bangladesh without the bicycle rickshaw. With colorful artwork on the back, hard-working drivers in front, bicycle rickshaws are not relics of the past, but the dominant form of transport throughout the country. The atmosphere of riding in one alternates between the peace of a slow ride above it all and the mania of a bob-and-weave in the thick of it (of the sorts that can make India look positively tame).
Besides its driver, what makes a rickshaw really stand out are its colors and artwork. In one Bangladeshi town in particular, Rajshahi, we noticed a theme in its rickshaw art: Dollywood*-style scenes of buxom women and brawny men.
Here’s a sample of what we found. Continue Reading »
While Shait Gumbad Masjid (Sixty Dome Mosque) in Bagerhat, Bangladesh might qualify as one of more remote and foreigner-free UNESCO sites we’ve come across in our travels, it’s certainly not a lonely place. Continue Reading »
So you think Indian food is just chicken tikka masala and palak paneer? Think again.
Recently, I’ve settled into a familiar morning routine: a masala dosa and sweet milk coffee in a simple canteen just down the street. Attendants make their rounds with metal pails full of sambar and colorful wet chutneys, ensuring that all customers have ample supply, more than enough to eat.
The activity, the flow, the smell and most certainly the taste all make me feel at home. Continue Reading »
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been uploading the remaining photos from our travels through India and Nepal in 2008 (This New Year’s resolution, if you’re wondering: NEVER EVER allow ourselves to get this far behind on photos.)
Experiences, emotions, and even memories of certain smells came back to me as I added labels and descriptions.
Sometimes a story behind a photo really stays with you. While sifting through our images from Udaipur (a terrific town in the Indian state of Rajasthan), I came across this photo of a girl we’d met in the market there. In some ways, it looks like so many of our other photos of children and people in India – colorful, human, evocative. But to me, this image carried a story — and a lesson.
Continue Reading »
Bad luck in Berlin takes us on a flashback to southern India.
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I recently shared our stories of Chandigarh with a group of new friends over a beer and was shocked to find someone who not only knew of Chandigarh but also asked me what I thought about the “Rock Garden.”
As cool as the Nek Chand Rock Garden is, the story of its construction and evolution in the unlikely city of Chandigarh is even cooler. Continue Reading »
The driver carved his way across northern West Bengal through territory unknown to most, including the mapmakers. Our SUV eventually rolled to a stop at the end of a dirt road where a group of village women dressed in their best and brightest saris were seated in a semi-circle on the ground. They had been waiting for hours.
And they were waiting for us.
Continue Reading »
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