Rain always has a greater significance in my mind. I refrain myself from considering it from mere scientific viewpoint. Especially when the rain represents the spectacular Monsoon; inspiration of millions of literary minds… I can’t help myself. Rain has magical attribute of reflecting the state of our minds. Rain can be sad. Rain can be cheerful. I tell a dramatic story about how rain originates here in this sub-continent. Hear me out, it’s a romantic one. Once Bay of Bengal fell in love with Summer. It was okay at first but as time went by their feelings went sour. Summer being a highly ambitious girl, unsatisfied with whatever Bay of Bengal had to offer; always sent hurtful resentment (scorching heat of summer) to his mind. His sadness (evaporated sea-water) heightened to the sky. One day an amazing girl (cool air above) came into the life of this saddened man. They fell in love with each other. With her graceful touch of love, condensed sadness of Bay of Bengal melted down on earth from his teary eyes in form of rain. Occasionally, it floods here due to too much rain when their love spill over from heart. So, to me rain is tears of joy; symbol of a remarkable romance.
I came to visit my parents at my village home. It’s been raining here all day since yesterday. I didn’t go out yesterday. I stayed laid on bed and read Shattyajit Roy all day. My bed is just beside the window. Last night when raining I opened the slide window. I could listen to its enchanting melody till very late at night. I felt sad. Loads of memories from past came crashing in. That song from Hypnogaja was playing on repeat inside my head:
“Here comes the rain again
Falling on my head like a memory
Falling on my head like a new emotion
I want to walk in the open wind
I want to talk like lovers do
I want to dive in your ocean
Is it raining with you?”
But Luke Bryan says rain is a good thing not a sad thing:
“Rain makes corn; corn makes whiskey
Whiskey makes my baby, feel a little frisky”
Today I woke up early and promised myself to enjoy the whole day. It went far better than what I expected. Now I want to say to Luke that we don’t have to look forward to this kind of chain course of actions to justify how rain fills our heart with bountiful happiness. It’s easier here in Bangladesh. Trust me all you need to do is ‘Step Outside’.
It was cloudy before dawn. Sky looked like a glowing blue ceiling on which grey cottons were glued in uneven scattered way. Drizzly breeze blowing past me while I kept looking at the sky. Suddenly a flock of black throated divers interrupted my view… happy interruption. They were out on a hunting mission. Wind was chilling. I found myself craving for a cup of hot tea. I asked mum if I could have it. She replied ‘In a minute son’. Amazing woman my mum. We have a boat in our pond. It is used for picking fruits from trees that extend over pond. It’s fun eating fruits while riding boat around pond. I finished my tea and prepared boat to have a ride around. It was fun. Although there was an umbrella fixed on it I couldn’t continue my relaxation due to sudden heavy shower. I ran back to house. As I was standing at the gate and wishing to go on another ride if rain stops I noticed something. First I thought it was couple of bug bitten leaves. When I looked closer I saw a nest of ‘Tuntuni’ bird. There were 4 eggs in that nest cradled safely with two leaves. Beautiful crafting by their parents. I waited at a distant to catch a photo of the nest along with the birds. Well, I failed.
We have a fish project behind our home. To reach there I had to cross a jungle in the middle. People say paranormal stories about this jungle. Some say, once a girl came here to collect dry logs for cooking. She never came back home. When people searched for her in that jungle; all they found was a bundle of dry log and her footwear. No trace of that girl. Some claim to see a lurking white creature half tiger half human roaming around with a skull on his hand. With intensity of trees this place always looks like ‘afternoon on its way’. On rainy days like this when sky hosts dark and grey; this place turns into a mysterious scary heaven of spirits. But these days, people deforesting the area and building houses so evil falling before threat. Whenever I visit my village I never miss to visit the fish project. That area reminds me of an ideal rural area with acres of cultivated land, farmers with traditional dress, young cowboys herding cattle and children playing barefooted on mud and what not! Never fails to serve an enchanting heart-thrilling panoramic view. But now this place looked like a plain sheet of water. The farmers became fishermen; throwing nets from boats, children fishing with small triangular fishing gear while young cowboys brought their cattle to feast on fresh green grass. There were ‘Kadam’ flowers and water lilies everywhere. It was a sight to behold.
It was almost noon. I was roaming around for a long time. I needed a shower. Just when I thought about this, in no time rain started again. I put my phone in a polythene bag and prepared for a natural bath under cloudy sky. I saw a group of boys having good time trolling one another and slipping on the mud. I remember when I was a kid my dad never let me play on a rainy day like this. I could hardly go out. He is a doctor… rest of which should make sense. He was at his medical center so nobody kept me from soaking in the rain. Although I didn’t join those kids cause it would look weird for 20 years old boy like me. But my soul did play along. After taking shower both in rain and in pond, I went back home. I was really hungry after all those walking and swimming. When I entered home I found smell of ‘Vuna khichuri’. I changed clothes and walked into kitchen to see what’s mum had been preparing for lunch. I was right. Vuna khichuri with roasted duck and mango pickle……yummmm!
After having lunch I gossiped with my mum and sister about the day, showed these photographs and was catching up all of our stories. My sister and I stay at the capital to study. We study at the same city but we hardly see each other. My parents stay at the suburb. My dad’s hospital is in this area. So loads of stories to share when we reunite. It was raining outside, we were watching through the glass window and talking and talking and talking. Rain does remind us of past so much. When mum tells us about the events took place when we were away, we listen with full concentration. She is such a good storyteller that we don’t even remind her when she tells about things that she already told us over phone when we were away. This is one of those highlighted times I look forward to when I am at the village.
At night when dad’s back, he initiates another episode of storytelling about his patients… illustrating their happiness, sorrows, hopes and agony in our minds. It’s a beautiful thing. He always does that. Sometimes when I visit my dad while he is working at his hospital I have to wait while his patients tell me all about my dad’s heroism and philanthropy. This is one of those factors that contributed to turn my dad into my ‘Hero’. After coming back and freshening up when he is not too busy reading newspaper, we play Snake Ladder game while marching sound of rain and frog’s croaking glorifies the night.
So rainy days are not that bad afterall right?
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.
We are developing a relatively new concept in the field of tourism and naming it ‘Campus Tourism’. By the sound of it you probably can realize what’s it about. This is a tourism activity of a group or a person around the campus of some institution. Of course, the institutions holding with larger amount of elements that interest tourists and fall into the segments of tourism product be subject of the discussion. I’m privileged that my institution ‘University of Dhaka’ holds awesome amount of tourism products to initiate our plan for campus tourism. In fact, the inception of my country ‘Bangladesh’ and role of my university in that is inseparable. I take pride in it’s call for revolution and democratic evolution that shaped my country. This institution is mainly home of dozens of historical & archaeological tourism products. Let’s dive into some of those:
- Bangladesh national museum: The museum contains a large number of interesting collections including sculptures and paintings of the Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim periods as well as inscriptions of the Holy Quran in Arabic and Persian letters and Bengali works in the Arabic script. The museum also has a rich collection of old coins, metal images, books on art, silver filigree works etc. It displays the lifestyle of local and indigenous tribes. It is open from Friday to Wednesday, 9 am to 6 pm.
- Chobir Haat: It is an open-air market where artists exhibit and sell their artwork, which is on display for customers to admire and buy what they like. The Friday market is an open-air market, or rather open-air exhibition that continues from 3pm-8pm. Beautiful paintings are inexpensive in comparison to their value. Most of the Fridays there are open-air free concert also where you many local artist sing Bengali folk song.
- Suhrawardy Uddyan: A Popular Park. The oath of independence of Bangladesh was taken here and Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheik Mujibur Rahman gave clarion call for independence on this occasion on the 7th March 1971. The place is famous for its lush verdure and gentle breezes. Eternal Flame to enliven the memory of the martyrs of our Liberation war been blown here recently.
- Statue of Independence (Glass tower): Translated as Freedom Monument is the exact place where Bangabondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman delivered his historical speech on 7th march 1971. With his speech, Bangladeshi Nation got the enthusiasm for our great Liberation War in 1971. To recognize the historical memory, this statue been made.
- ‘Shikha chironton’ and ‘Shadhinota Terracotta Mural’ : The eternal flame symbolizes the spirit of independence that will forever guide us to the light of salvation and the terracotta showcases the passion exhibited by our countrymen in 1971. Both of these monuments stand in Suhrawardi Uddyan.
- Mausoleum of National Leaders: Located at the southwestern corner of Suhrawardy Uddyan, it is the eternal resting place of great national leaders, Sher-e-Bangla A.K. Fazlul Haque, Hossain Shahid Suhrawardy and Khaja Nazimuddin. Known in Bangla as ‘Teen Netar Kobor’ this is the place of graves of three national leaders who contributed to shape this country at difficult times.
7. Mir Jumla’s Gate (Dhaka Gate) Mir Jumla (1660-1663) was a prominent subahdar of Bengal under Emperor aurangzeb. Mir Jumla’s name is connected with a number of constructions, the first of which is Mir Jumla’s gate, lately known as Ramna gate, on the Mymensingh road near curzon hall and to the west of the old High Court Buildings. The gate was probably meant to guard the city from the north. He also had to guard the city and its suburbs from Magh attacks.
8. Doel Square: Doel is the national bird of Bangladesh. Within few years of independence of this country in 1971, there was a surge for defining national identity. As a part of that program several sculpture with national symbols were built around the city. This stands in Dhaka university area near the roundabout of ‘Curzon Hall’ on the way to TSC (Teachers-Students Centre).
9. Curzon Hall: These days Curzon Hall is a part of the school of science of Dhaka University. Curzon Hall meant to be a town hall, was named after Lord Curzon, the Viceroy of India, who laid its foundation in 1904. A year later Bengal was partitioned and Dhaka or Dacca as it was known then, became the capital of the newly created province of East Bengal and Assam. Following the annulment of partition in 1911 it was used as a premise of Dhaka College, and after the establishment of the University of Dhaka in 1921, the decision that made to please Muslims in East Bengal as a compensation for the annulment of the partition, became part of the university’s science section and continued as such till date.
10. Central Shahid Minar: Symbol of Bengali nationalism, this monument was built to commemorate the martyrs of the historic Language movement of 1952. Hundreds and thousands of people with floral wreaths and bouquet gather on 21 February every year to pay respect in a solemn atmosphere. This is a monument in honor of the language martyrs of 1952. On February 21, 1952, many students and political activists were killed as Pakistani police force opened fire on some protesters who were demanding equal status to their mother tongue, Bengali. The place was near Dhaka Medical College and Ramna Park in Dhaka. The minar has five pillars made of pure marble stone upon a 14 feet high stage. The boundary on both sides contains lines from poems of famous poets engraved in iron letters
11. National Poet’s Graveyard: Revolutionary poet Kazi Nazrul Islam died on the 29 August 1976 and was buried here. The graveyard is adjacent to the Dhaka University Mosque.
12. Aparajeyo Bangla: Translated as ‘undefeatable Bengal’, Aparajeyo Bangla is perhaps the most famous sculpture in Bangladesh built on the theme of Independence in 1971. It is located in front of Faculty of Arts & Humanities of Dhaka University. The two male figures represent a villager and a city dweller respectively and the woman with a first aid box – all contributed to the Independence in this country. There is no restriction to get in and take picture of it since it is considered as national piece of art.
13. Razu vaskorjo: Sculpture against terror installed on TSC roundabout, Dhaka University. It was funded by private donors and overseen by students to make a point against political violence among the student activists which is a serious problem among the public universities in the country. The sculpture is dedicated to a student killed by political violence.
14. Gurudwara Nanak Shahi: This Sikh temple is out of few still found in Bangladesh and is administered from India. There is no resident Sikh community left in Bangladesh but in recent years, country received a good number of Sikh visitors mostly on work in Bangladesh. The gurudwara was founded by a missionary sent to Bangladesh by Baba Gurditta, Son of Guru Hargobind (6th Guru) within 17th century and was completed in 1830. Religious celebrations include weekly prayers every Friday. Social functions such as Baisakhi are celebrated. Old relics-an old handwritten volume of Guru Granth Sahib, a portrait of Guru Teg Bahadur are preserved here.
15. Shoparjito shadhinita: Translated in English as Self-earned Independence, ‘Shoparjito Shadhinota’ was built in early 90s in front of TSC (Teachers-Students Centre), Dhaka University. At the time of inaugurating the sculpture, hardliner Islamists threatened to destroy it. Ms Shikdar who created this sculpture, promised to strip anyone whoever approaches to do so being present at the spot early morning on the day of inauguration. Nothing happened and the sculpture is still standing with pride
16. Shadhinota songram sculpture: The sculpture ‘Swadhinata Sangram’ is the embodiment of the consciousness and struggle of Bengali’s. Eminent sculptor Shamim Sikder erected this grand sculpture. Holding the national flag on the top, the huge statue shows faces of several historical persons. The artisan has also created one hundred and three small sculptures around the altar of liberation memorial sculpture. Images of prominent persons and different scenes of Bengali culture have been included in the garden. Four phases of history: 1952/69/71/75 been represented including the history of the Liberation War.
17. Road accident memorial: White statue of a smashed microbus set on black stone under blue sky surrounded by green row of trees. Renowned director and filmmaker Tareque Masud and Mishuk Munir had passed away on 13 August of 2011 in a road accident. A sculpture of the car carrying on the day of the accident is used to build it. The sculpture is established in the VC Square of Dhaka University near the teacher-student center.
18. Greek memorial: A small yellow building that looks a little like a Greek temple faces the campus wall near the TSC (Teacher-Student Center) of Dhaka University. It looks old and was in very bad state until the 1960s, when university authorities renovated it. A mysterious inscription is written on the frieze above the entrance to the building. “Happy are those whom you chose and took with you”. It refers to the nine gravestones, which are embedded in the walls. Four written in Greek, four in English, and one is in both languages. They belong to Greek families who lived in Dhaka 150-200 years ago long before the establishment of Dhaka University in the site.
19. Bangla academy: Bangla Academy , Bangladesh’s national academy of arts and letters is an institution devoted to the development of language, literature and culture of our country. Bangla Academy building, formerly known as Burdwan House, contains an exclusive colonial style of late 19th and early 20th centuries. Originally a two storied building, it is rectangular in plan, the central bay holding the main entrance portico being projected out. A wide arcaded verandah runs in front of the building at both levels with balustrade railings. The arches are all semicircular which conform to the 19th century style. The wide verandahs not only act as shading devices but also protect the rooms from rain and provide easy circulation with adequate lighting and ventilation. The semicircular open balconies add spice to the beauty of this simplistic building.
20. Moder Gorob: Language martyr’s monument situated in the premise of bangle academy. This monument is dedicated to the soldiers of 1952 language movement; young people from different background protested valiantly demanding the same right.
It’s going to take a whole day to roam around my campus and get to know the prideful history. So, make schedule for a day, put it in your itinerary and enjoy ‘Campus Tourism’.
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.