First full day in Dhaka
A statue of a man making pottery at Dhaka Airport. All my life it was Zia International, but they changed the name to something I can’t pronounce.
We went to my dad’s family home in Old Dhaka and one of the men who worked there quickly changed from a shirt and pants to a lungi (which he folded up into short shorts), tied a rope around his ankles (for grip) and climbed a coconut tree (which was high as a three story building) and knocked down young coconuts for us. I’ve never successfully climbed a tree with no branches, but he used the gym-class rope climbing style. Even more impressive was that a crow family built a nest in the tree and was circling the tree like sharks when he got high near the coconuts. I was afraid for him but very impressed. Another man who worked at the house cut the tops of the coconuts with a machete and stuck straws inside. I was loving the natural and rustic quality of it. The coconut water was refreshing and slightly sweet. After we finished the liquid part, they cut the green coconut in half and we scraped the insides which were tasty but had a slimy gelatinous texture.
Later that day my mom, cousin, the latke and I met with our friend Shams for lunch at a buffet and went to “Macy’s meets Ten Thousand Villages”, otherwise known as Aarong. In between we checked out an amazing view of Notun Dhaka from the 20th floor of the BRAC building. Visiting family, shopping and having lunch might not seem like a lot of accomplishments, but as Shams explained, “In Dhaka, you can really only manage to do 1, maybe 2 errands a day.” The traffic is no joke.
This is Coral Bosti. A bosti is like a shanty town made of makeshift “houses”, which are more like tents 100 times crustier than Occupy Wall Street tents. The lack of rain in the winter season left the tents covered in a layer of brown dust dhoolo. The “nicer” homes are made with scrap metal and tin. There are many bostis in Dhaka, but Coral Bosti is the largest. You have to take a nouka (small boat) to get from the main road to Coral Bosti for 10 taka. I think that’s like 10 cents. Far in the distance, the tall building you see is the Westin hotel, one of the grandest in Dhaka. The haves and have-nots are juxtaposed against a dusty background of cringing rickshaws and honking cars and the echo of Azaan from various mosques. This is Dhaka.