Usually my Pahela Boishakh morning starts with the harmonious (or is it!) vocal of my dad singing along with the broadcasted singers from TV. The song is famous symbolizing song of the occasion from Nobel winning poet Rabindranath Tagore: “Esho he Boishakh esho esho” inviting the first month of Bengali calender ‘Boishakh’. Unlike other days, most Bengali people wake up simultaneously with the sun. So do I after bit of yawning, rubbing eyes and crawling around bed for a while of course. As I proceed to the washroom, crossing the dining hall I see mom already arranged our breakfast that includes Hilsa fish fry, soaked rice, onion, green chili and at least 5 types of ‘vorta’ recipe. This is called traditional Bengali breakfast: ‘Panta Elish’. Rest of the days of the year we prefer effortless American or continental breakfast Hahaha!
At the morning, people gather at Ramna Batamul (The great banyan tree) where performers from Chayanat (music school) sit on the stage beneath the tree and perform Bangla songs written praising the arrival of the summer through this month. You can have Panta Elish over there too. But I prefer the one my mom prepares. Then we head out to celebrate the day.
But hey! Appearance is very important factor to celebrate the day. This day is all about turning yourself into a true Bangali for a day. Forget about faded jeans and T-shirts for this day. I prefer the red Punjabi, white trouser, flat-laced sandal and a sunglass. Girls wear Sari with combination of the red and white color (mostly), a garland of flowers laced around their head and red bangles in wrists, which I think multiplies their beauty at least hundred times. Nothing can beat the beauty of a ‘Deshi girl’ right? Now it’s time for the grand parade. This colorful parade is arranged by the students of Faculty of fine arts, University of Dhaka (my Uni 😀 ) where thousands of people including hundreds of foreign tourists join every year. This parade is called ‘Mangal Sovajatra’ a parade that welcomes the good and scares away the evil. A Month of preparation, planning and making of festoons, banners, symbolic cartoon icons and idols finally gives shape to this grand parade.
Colors in the air, colors everywhere. You can see the nature bursting into beauty thus submerging you into her. This is the perfect day to hangout with friends and take photographs. We gossip till the afternoon and then head out to the band concerts arranged in several places. I guess that’s not a Bengali tradition. But hey! It’s all about enjoying the day till I get exhausted and then bump on my pillow.
If you think a day long trip for 7 dollars (per head) is not possible; read this article (transportation, 2 meals, entertainment and light shopping included!!! Now tell me do you think you are imprisoned like some pathetic characters in the ‘drama of exhaust’ and you are dying for a break? When I said ‘break’, for a while, you swam across those big Eid, Puja, Chirstmas vacations in dream until your conscious scolded saying “Not happening bro!” Relax. It is happening. Gather some friends, pack your bags and all of you get ready to retire for a day. If you are planning to do that, even a week later with loads of planning and with a big circle, forget it. It’s never going to work. “Hut Hat” is the right motion that I would recommend for dudes like this. Logic is, eventually you are going to surrender to nature for a cure as this city damages your soul and sucks up all joy. Don’t let it be severe.
According to famous travel magazine ‘Lonely Planet’ world knows Bangladesh as a cheap travelling destination (yet to whisper many). You don’t have to whisper to mom for money so that your dad can’t hear or swing your tongue before boss like faithful dog to collect the amount. Your pocket money can back you up without difficulty. Now you are ready to rock anywhere within 80km radius. I have a name for it “7 dollars for salvation”.
Before you set out for it, simple blueprint is necessary. Use Google map for it. Target a district. Search places of interest. Pin those in map. Consider distance among those, leave the rest to your brain. It automatically will make a sequence. If you have GPS enabled device then you are blessed. When you roam around and find worth visiting places that are not listed in Google map then tag it. Google map provides ‘My map’ option where you can mark your places. Avail that and don’t forget to share that with friends. If you do that, you unknowingly contributing to tourism. I think I don’t have to tell you how to share. You are not that ‘dumb’ right?
Places we visited:
So; I welcome you to visit my country Bangladesh. The most inexpensive tourist destination ever.
When it comes to backpacking, thing that matters most is the amount needed to get by during one’s stay. Destinations that can set a fine-line between price and quality balancing both soundly tend to win significant amount of tourists. Countries like Thailand (!), Indonesia, Nepal, Nicaragua, and Bolivia realized the idea; now experiencing soaring tourist arrival and earning reliable recommendation. Thailand’s $3 dollar dorm bed, Indonesia’s $1.5 dollar buffet, Nicaragua’s $4-5 dollar lunch/dinner and Bolivia’s $5-6 dollar basic accommodation in clean and respectable place considered as backpacker’s candy.
Hang on now. What about our country Bangladesh? I asked myself the same thing. Well let me show you something. Pokhara city of Nepal; considered as the best backpacking destination since it provides affordability to light pockets. Pokhara tops the list providing average $14.32 daily cost for a backpacker. Which includes a dorm bed, 3 budget meals, 2 public transport, 1 paid cultural attraction and drinks. No destination from Bangladesh made that list. Despite that, I am comparing our most expensive Dhaka against the cheapest.
|Items||Pokhara. Nepal (approx)||Dhaka,Bangladesh (approx)|
|1.Accommodation||Dorm: $4||Dorm: $4.50 (possible, rare)|
|2.Transportation||Bus: $0.50/kmTaxi: $1.70/km||Bus: $0.20/kmTaxi: $1.92/km|
|3.Cultural attraction||Devi’s falls: $0.50||Whole DU campus tour and national museum tour: $1|
|4.Food and drinks||Breakfast: $1.48Lunch: $2.05Dinner: 2.09
3 soft drinks: $2.00
|Breakfast: $1Lunch: $1.53Dinner: $1.92
3 soft drinks: $1.28
Source: Price of Travel, NUMBEO
Average daily cost in Dhaka: $13.35 (1 dollar = 78 taka)
Average daily cost in Pokhara: $14.32 (1 dollar = 98 NPR)
Now as you can see, we can even top the cheapest. That is the reason the most reliable travel magazine Lonely Planet picked Bangladesh as the best valued destination in 2011 where you get your money’s worth. Unluckily we are so deluded attracting luxury tourists that we don’t realize we don’t have enough infrastructure or incredible artificial entertainment which they value most. But we have nature that can beat heaven and unprecedented hospitality that backpackers desire most. Inviting you all to Bangladesh; the school of life.
I witnessed magnificence riding upward around the hills and slamming the breaks. I believe uncertainty is a beauty. I witnessed flawless setup of daunting terrain, clouds, mountains and roaring rivers playing the game of ‘veil unveil’. I believe that nature has the greatest wisdom of all. I witnessed the vastness of Himalayas. I believe I held my breath for so long that it nearly killed me yet I didn’t notice. These days i was under Himalayas surveillance. Coming back home today after an unforgettable journey.