Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.

My golden Bengal, thee I love…

– National anthem of Bangladesh, Rabindranath Tagore

August 2019

What a spectacle!

A festival of sights, sounds, and flavours, Bangladesh awaits intrepid travellers who brave some of the most dangerous roads, maddest drivers, and perpetual sensory overload…

Eid holidaymakers. Kumira Ghat, Chittagong, Bangladesh. 2019.

Bangladesh moves, in droves, and by all means! Not just a whopping 165m people in a country the size of New York state, but also three million plus cars, one million rickshaw pullers, 250,000 CNGs (tuks tuks), antique trains, heavily bruised buses, over-speeding trucks, unregulated minivans, motorbike taxis, bikes, overflowing launches, bullock carts, cows, and Bengali goats meditating on the meaning of their little lives in the middle of the road…

Dakar, Bangladesh. 2019.
Old Dakar, Bangladesh. 2019.
Singra, Bangladesh. 2019.
Old Dakar, Bangladesh. 2019.
Old Dakar, Bangladesh. 2019.
Dakar, Bangladesh. 2019.
Old Dakar, Bangladesh. 2019.
Chittagong, Bangladesh. 2019.
Monsoon in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. 2019.

It takes two hours to cover twenty kilometers from the airport to the hotel. I quickly learn:

1. Distance does not mean much here;

2. Road math defies logic: everyone’s racing and yet still moving at 5km/hr;

3. Size matters: buses roar like lion kings! Ride a motorbike/bike or cross the road at your own risk;

4. Forget about traffic police; bus wallahs direct road conditions by shouting CLEAR! and

5. Bengali passion for honking surpasses that of Lahorites!

A nervous, sweating young bus driver stuck in traffic. Bogra, Bangladesh. 2019.

My month-long DIY tour in Bangladesh begins with an early morning launch to Barisal to visit a little known picturesque floating market in Kuriana. From there, I snake my way up to Bogra, Kulna, Rajshahi, and Dinajpur before heading back to Dhaka where I meet Nobel Peace laureate and founder of the Grameen Bank, Professor Mohammed Yunus to study the viability of micro-credit programs in refugee camps…

Then it’s time to head south to Chittagong, Cox’s Bazar, Kutupalong, the indigenous hill tracts in Rangamati and Bandarban, and the sprawling tea estates in Srimangol. Local buses and inter-city trains in Bangladesh are not for the faint of heart. It’s an adventure that I recommend only to zen practitioners-travellers. There are quite a few heavy sweating moments – literally and figuratively – and unfortunately also a few ghastly sights of fatal accidents and road rage…

DIY one-month itinerary. Bangladesh. 2019.

It is guava season in Barisal! A serendipitous encounter with with Ashraful, a talented freelance local photographer-traveller, allows me to share a small boat with him, the only other tourist at eight in the morning. Few things beat a serene, matinee boat ride through narrow canals in twists and turns through beautiful Bangladeshi countryside, leading to the floating market in Kuriana. Observing the hard-working and massively underpaid (eight taka/10c per kilo!) guava pickers in their environment is magical! It looks like an age-old ritual that shows so well the farmers’ connection to the land and their heroic resilience despite challenging economic conditions…

Kuriana, Barisal, Bangladesh. 2019.
Kuriana, Barisal, Bangladesh. 2019.
Kuriana, Barisal, Bangladesh. 2019.
Kuriana, Barisal, Bangladesh. 2019.
Kuriana, Barisal, Bangladesh. 2019.
Kuriana, Barisal, Bangladesh. 2019.
Kuriana, Barisal, Bangladesh. 2019.
Kuriana, Barisal, Bangladesh. 2019.
Kuriana, Barisal, Bangladesh. 2019.
Kuriana, Barisal, Bangladesh. 2019.
Going to school… Kuriana, Barisal, Bangladesh. 2019.
Floating market. Kuriana, Barisal, Bangladesh. 2019.
loating market. Kuriana, Barisal, Bangladesh. 2019.
Floating market. Kuriana, Barisal, Bangladesh. 2019.
Floating market. Kuriana, Barisal, Bangladesh. 2019.
Local tourists. Floating market. Kuriana, Barisal, Bangladesh. 2019.
Floating market. Kuriana, Barisal, Bangladesh. 2019.

The chars – river islands – in Sariakandi near Bogra are flooded by the monsoon, displacing many of the poorest communities. Sohan and his family kindly invite me to share their boat to tour around the beautiful bay. What a pleasant afternoon in the company of Friday local tourists, munching thirst-quenching salted amra – a local sweet and sour fruit – seeing highly photogenic jute harvest for the first time, watching the Jamuna river go by…

Jute harvest. Sariakandi, Bangladesh. 2019.
Jute harvest. Sariakandi, Bangladesh. 2019.
Jute harvest. Sariakandi, Bangladesh. 2019.
Jute harvest. Sariakandi, Bangladesh. 2019.
Jute harvest. Sariakandi, Bangladesh. 2019.
Jute harvest. Sariakandi, Bangladesh. 2019.
Jute harvest. Sariakandi, Bangladesh. 2019.
Jute harvest. Sariakandi, Bangladesh. 2019.
Jute harvest. Sariakandi, Bangladesh. 2019.
Jute harvest. Sariakandi, Bangladesh. 2019.
Jute harvest. Sariakandi, Bangladesh. 2019.
Jute harvest. Sariakandi, Bangladesh. 2019.
Jute harvest. Sariakandi, Bangladesh. 2019.
Jute harvest. Sariakandi, Bangladesh. 2019.
Jute harvest. Sariakandi, Bangladesh. 2019.

The breathtaking floating market and jute harvest are already stunning. There is still so much more to visit: the largest, 13th century 60-dome mosque in Bagerhat; an even older, 9th century magnificent Buddhist temple, Somipura Vihara, in Paharpur; the crowning 18th century  Hindu temple, Kantajew, in Dinajpur; countless rajbaris – aristocratic mansions – and temples in ruins throughout the country, and beautiful historic Panam city in Sonargaon…

Hindu temple in Puthia Rajbari. Puthia, Bangladesh. 2019.
Somipura Vihara Buddhist temple. Paharpur, Bangladesh. 2019.
Somipura Vihara Buddhist temple. Paharpur, Bangladesh. 2019.
Kantajew Hindu Temple. Dinajpur, Bangladesh. 2019.
Kantajew Hindu Temple. Dinajpur, Bangladesh. 2019.
Kantajew Hindu Temple. Dinajpur, Bangladesh. 2019.
Kantajew Hindu Temple. Dinajpur, Bangladesh. 2019.
Kantajew Hindu Temple. Dinajpur, Bangladesh. 2019.
Kantajew Hindu Temple. Dinajpur, Bangladesh. 2019.
Kantajew Hindu Temple. Dinajpur, Bangladesh. 2019.
Sonargaon, Bangladesh. 2019.

I had originally planned this trip with a sole purpose in mind: to meet the Nobel Peace laureate and founder of the Grameen Bank, Professor Mohammed Yunus, to study the viability of micro-credit programs in refugee communities in Lebanon and migrant populations in the Thai-Burmese border. Prof. Yunus has an inspiring life story, starting the revolutionary concept of banking for the poor with US$27 out of his own pocket for 42 families back in 1974, and is now, at his energetic age of 79, creating an institutional platform – Yunus centers – on college campuses worldwide to realize his vision of an alternative capitalist system with three zeros: 0 poverty, 0 unemployment, 0 net carbon emissions!

So would micro-credit work in refugee camps worldwide?

“Yes,” Prof. Yunus says. “Micro-credit works for any community if it has access to income-generating activities AND is led by local efforts.”

Grameen Bank lends a staggering US$26b of micro-loans to the poorest. Together with a plethora of other social businesses in nutrition and health, education, telecommunications, and even sports, it has achieved remarkable results by any measure. But in the case of Palestinian and Syrian refugees in Lebanon, the lack of work opportunities for is largely a political issue due to their non-recognition as citizens. 

So can radical economics bypass conservative politics? How?

Meeting this visionary giant who has done so much to lift people out of poverty and remains committed to the idea of putting poverty in a museum has spurred much of my own thinking. Is it not a compelling reason to dedicate one’s life as a traveller-photographer-writer on social causes, connecting with creative and generous people along the way?

Meeting Professor Yunus, Nobel laureate and founder of Grameen Bank. Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.

My second goal is to visit the Rohingya refugee camps in Kutupalong. Easier said than done! After months of inquiry, yielding nothing, I give up the idea until I meet Nazrul. My visiting friend and I are strolling in the folk museum in Sonargaon when we hear Spanish. I turn around to find three convivial chaps – Nazrul, Mizan, and Golam – hailing from the University Grants Commission and Dhaka University. Nazrul makes a quick phone call to his friend, the Assistant Commissioner of the RRRC (Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commission), and two days later I find myself in the camp office in Cox’s Bazar with a hand-written application letter:

Beg most respectfully to state that I am a humanitarian traveller-photographer interested in understanding the refugee condition… I therefore pray and hope that you will give me kind permission and oblige thereby

As a Muslim minority living in a Buddhist country, the Rohingya are not recognized as an ethnic group within Myanmar and have been denied citizenship rights. Since the 1990s, they have fled successive waves of violence. Over one million Rohingya have been stuck in the hilly camps around Kutupalong and Nayapara refugee camps near Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh with minimum provisions and little idea of their future. The UN has considered the Rohingya as “the most persecuted minority in the world.” The extent of violence and trauma, the continuous denial of the Myanmar government, burden on the Bangladeshi state, and international apathy all made the issue highly contentious. Read my full report here

Rohingya children. Kutupalong refugee camps, Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh. 2019.

My third goal is to explore old Dhaka that I had first glimpsed through the work of a local photographer a few years back: vibrant colours, narrow lanes, lively vibes, and hearty smiles. Plus crumbling heritage buildings… A photographer’s heaven!

Photogenic Old Dhaka. Bangladesh. 2019.

So the French who liked pepper and profiteering from it settled here back in the 1700s for the spice trade before the British kicked them out. Prosperous Armenian merchants built palatial mansions that still stand today. Most of the grandiose buildings belonged to wealthy Hindu landlords who fled during the Partition in 1947, exchanging their property with Muslim counterparts if they were lucky or else having their possessions expropriated as enemy’s assets.

Old Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Old Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Old Dhaka. Bangladesh. 2019.
Old Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Old Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Old Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Old Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.

I join an informative walking tour by the architect and student activist-led organization called the Urban Study Group founded by Taimur Islam to save a heritage building from demolition in Old Dhaka. It’s sad to see the dilapidated state of turn-of-the-century architectural gems due to a lack of foresight, regulation, and protection. Most properties are leased to various government departments, serving even as college hostels (in sub-optimal conditions), rented out by private owners or occupied by squatters, in a densely populated area surrounded by vibrant markets and historic sites…

Old Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Old Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Old Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Old Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Old Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Old Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Old Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Old Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Old Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Old Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Old Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Lalbagh fort. Old Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.

Everything else is just bonus after bonus! I go for a photo-shoot with Ashraful in the bustling Saderghat harbour area and the notorious shipbreaking industry on the opposite shore…

Saderghat, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Saderghat, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Saderghat, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Saderghat, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Shipbreaking yard in Keraniganj. Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Shipbreaking yard in Keraniganj. Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Shipbreaking yard in Keraniganj. Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Shipbreaking yard in Keraniganj. Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Shipbreaking yard in Keraniganj. Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Shipbreaking yard in Keraniganj. Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Shipbreaking yard in Keraniganj. Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Shipbreaking yard in Keraniganj. Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Eid is coming! Shipbreaking yard in Keraniganj. Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.

I successfully battle with Bangladeshi bureaucracy to get access to the iconic Parliament building in central Dhaka to pay homage to Louis Khan, a giant in modern architecture. Helas, pictures are not allowed inside. I wish I could show how he worked so elegantly with light and lines!

The Parliament. Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
The Parliament. Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
The Parliament. Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.

Mizan, a Dakar University lecturer and Fullbrighter at Stanford (we had the same prof; what a tiny world!) gives me a comprehensive guided tour of the green oasis and lovers’ retreat of Dhaka University…

Flower vendor, Dhaka University, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Dhaka University, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Dhaka University, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Dhaka University, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Dhaka University, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Dhaka University, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Dhaka University, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.

Through one of his op-ed pieces in the Daily Star, I meet Professor Adnan Morshed, founder and Director of BRAC University’s Center for Inclusive Architecture and Urbanism, Heartbreak at Saderghat, that he has compiled into a critical volume entitled Dhaka Delirium.

For a long time, I struggled to ask the right questions about the meaning of this city’s quintessential chaos, intensity, congestion, and beautifully infernal urban density… In many ways, Dhaka Delirium is a retroactive act of penitence for failing to realize how the South Asian capital city reveals its inner stories through the language of spatiality and urbanity.

– Adnan Morshed, Dhaka Delirium.

Adnan kindly organizes a reality tour of Korail, the biggest slum in Bangladesh, that allows me to glimpse precisely the kind of chaotic and politically charged spatial and urban stories that his op-ed pieces talk about…

 Korail, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
 Korail, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
 Korail, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
 Korail, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
 Korail, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
 Korail, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
 Korail, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
 Korail, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
 Korail, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
 Korail, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
 Korail, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
 Korail, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
 Korail, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
 Korail, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
 Korail, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
 Korail, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.

It’s Eid-al Adha, a major religious holiday with a festive atmosphere, massive cattle markets, spilling train crowds, and gory road-side animal sacrifice! Nazrul invites me for a special Eid lunch, with beef entrails and decadently sweet Bengali treats at his home where I see a delightful roof-top garden, a popular tax incentive of PM Sheikh Hasina. Then we all head to the lovely DU campus home of Golam, a prof in Urdu, for more sweets, ice-cream, chai, and live renditions of Urdu love songs. I always feel at home in academic havens. What a memorable day!

That’s Eid! Chittagong, Bangladesh. 2019.
Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Eid animal sacrifice. Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Eid animal sacrifice. Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Eid animal sacrifice. Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.

In Chittagong, Adnan invites me to his home for Eid celebrations with his luminary family and opens all doors. With his city planner friend, Shahin, who has been tasked with the unenviable and ambitious job of rejuvenating the canal area, we have an eye-opening city tour. The next Venice of Bangladesh?

The Canal area. Chittagong, Bangladesh. 2019.
The Canal area. Chittagong, Bangladesh. 2019.
The Canal area. Chittagong, Bangladesh. 2019.
The Canal area. Chittagong, Bangladesh. 2019.
The Canal area. Chittagong, Bangladesh. 2019.
The Canal area. Chittagong, Bangladesh. 2019.
The Canal area. Chittagong, Bangladesh. 2019.

I try to sneak in the notorious shipbreaking yards near Chittagong but fail due to tight security for fear of bad press. “No child labor allowed here,” the door signs say…

Shipbreaking yard. Chittagong, Bangladesh. 2019.
Shipbreaking yard. Chittagong, Bangladesh. 2019.
Shipbreaking yard. Chittagong, Bangladesh. 2019.
Shipbreaking yard. Chittagong, Bangladesh. 2019.
Shipbreaking yard. Chittagong, Bangladesh. 2019.
Shipbreaking yard. Chittagong, Bangladesh. 2019.
Shipbreaking yard. Chittagong, Bangladesh. 2019.
Shipbreaking yard. Chittagong, Bangladesh. 2019.
Shipbreaking yard. Chittagong, Bangladesh. 2019.
Shipbreaking yard. Chittagong, Bangladesh. 2019.

Thinking that the Eid crowd is over, I head to Cox’s bazar, only to find massive holidaymakers in the Bangladeshi Rivera famed for the longest beach in the world. I almost turn around (wouldn’t dare to swim in my bikini anyway and did not have the reflex of packing something more modest!) but am glad I stay. It is fascinating to watch beach-going Bengali style like nowhere else in the world…

Eid holidaymakers. Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. 2019.
Eid holidaymakers. Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. 2019.
Eid holidaymakers. Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. 2019.
Eid holidaymakers. Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. 2019.
Eid holidaymakers. Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. 2019.
Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. 2019.
Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. 2019.
Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. 2019.
Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. 2019.
Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. 2019.
Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. 2019.
Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. 2019.

Traveling has been rough and my resistance to noise, crowd, and pollution quickly wears thin, but there are still the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Rangamati, home of the indigenous tribes, turns out to be the loveliest place, not only because of the scenic Kaptai lake, but also the ultra-hospitable Vice-Chancellor of the Rangamati Science and Technology U, Chakma, whom Nazrul kindly introduces to me. I taste the most delicious lunch of tribal dishes of steamed bamboo shoots, fishes cooked in bamboo, and veggies in shrimp paste, and spend a pleasurable idly afternoon with faculty members by the lake…

From there, I move to Bandarban and visit Mru, Bawm and Tripuri villages with a knowledgeable local Bawm guide, Lal. The view of the hills is breathtaking, and the morning trek down to the Sangu river, followed by the boat ride to the bustling Wednesday market in town, is other-worldly…

A Mru child. Bagar village, Bandarban, Bangladesh. 2019.
A Bawm toddler. Gestmani village, Bandarban, Bangladesh. 2019.
A Mru child on her way to fetch water. Bagar village, Bandarban, Bangladesh. 2019.
A Mru child on her way to fetch water. Bagar village, Bandarban, Bangladesh. 2019.
A Mru toddler. Bagar village, Bandarban, Bangladesh. 2019.
A Bawm child. Gestmani village, Bandarban, Bangladesh. 2019.
A Bawm child. Gestmani village, Bandarban, Bangladesh. 2019.
A Bawm teenager. Gestmani village, Bandarban, Bangladesh. 2019.
A Bawm teenager sharpening his knife for bamboo shoot harvest. Gestmani village, Bandarban, Bangladesh. 2019.
Cricket at a Tripuri village! Hatibanga, Bandarban, Bangladesh. 2019.
A Bawm teenager. Gestmani village, Bandarban, Bangladesh. 2019.
A Mru villager. Bagar, Bandarban, Bangladesh. 2019.
Mru village chief. Bagar, Bandarban, Bangladesh. 2019.
Mru Village chief’s wife. Bagar, Bandarban, Bangladesh. 2019.
A Mru woman with child. Bagar, Bandarban, Bangladesh. 2019.
A Mru villager. Bagar, Bandarban, Bangladesh. 2019.
A Mru villager with grandchild. Bagar, Bandarban, Bangladesh. 2019.
Mru school children. Bagar, Bandarban, Bangladesh. 2019.
Mru villagers. Bagar, Bandarban, Bangladesh. 2019.
A Bawm weaver. Gestmani village, Bandarban, Bangladesh. 2019.
A Bawm woman drying her hair. Gestmani village, Bandarban, Bangladesh. 2019.
Tan Tan, a Bawm villager who works in Singapore as domestic helper. Gestmani village, Bandarban, Bangladesh. 2019.
Tan Tan’s father. Gestmani village, Bandarban, Bangladesh. 2019.
Gestmani village, Bandarban, Bangladesh. 2019.
A Bawm weaver. Laima village, Bandarban, Bangladesh. 2019.
A Tripuri villager. Hatibanga, Bandarban, Bangladesh. 2019.
A Tripuri villager. Hatibanga, Bandarban, Bangladesh. 2019.
Morning routine in the Sangu river. Bandarban, Bangladesh. 2019.
Morning routine in the Sangu river. Bandarban, Bangladesh. 2019.
A Marma woman enjoying mundi/noodle soup. Bandarban, Bangladesh. 2019.
A Marma woman enjoying a puff at the Wednesday market. Bandarban, Bangladesh. 2019.
A Marma woman enjoying a puff at the Wednesday market. Bandarban, Bangladesh. 2019.
A Marma vendor at the Wednesday market. Bandarban, Bangladesh. 2019.
Wednesday market. Bandarban, Bangladesh. 2019.
Laima, a Bawm village, Bandarban, Bangladesh. 2019.

Unfortunately, army presence is heavy and security remains a concern. An army officer is shot dead the day of my departure. I have to re-route via Chittagong. The hill tribes continue to demand independence from Bangladesh…

Pro-independence protest. Bandarban, Bangladesh. 2019.
A poster at the Rangamati police check point. Rangamati, Bangladesh. 2019.

Among many other things, Bangladesh also produces delicious tea in vast tea estates up north in Sylhet district. In Srimangal, I take a leisurely early morning stroll in one of these, watching Hindu tea pickers filing in to begin another day of hard labor…

Hindu teapickers. Srimangal, Bangladesh. 2019.
A Hindu tea picker. Srimangal, Bangladesh. 2019.
A Hindu tea picker. Srimangal, Bangladesh. 2019.
A Hindu tea picker. Srimangal, Bangladesh. 2019.
A Hindu tea picker. Srimangal, Bangladesh. 2019.
Hindu tea pickers. Srimangal, Bangladesh. 2019.
A Hindu tea picker. Srimangal, Bangladesh. 2019.
A Hindu tea picker. Srimangal, Bangladesh. 2019.
A Hindu tea picker. Srimangal, Bangladesh. 2019.
A Hindu tea picker. Srimangal, Bangladesh. 2019.
A Hindu tea picker. Srimangal, Bangladesh. 2019.
A Hindu tea picker. Srimangal, Bangladesh. 2019.
A Hindu tea picker. Srimangal, Bangladesh. 2019.
Hindu tea pickers. Srimangal, Bangladesh. 2019.
A Hindu tea picker. Srimangal, Bangladesh. 2019.
A Hindu tea picker. Srimangal, Bangladesh. 2019.
Hindu tea pickers. Srimangal, Bangladesh. 2019.
Hindu tea pickers. Srimangal, Bangladesh. 2019.
Hindu tea pickers. Srimangal, Bangladesh. 2019.
Hindu tea pickers. Srimangal, Bangladesh. 2019.
Hindu tea pickers. Srimangal, Bangladesh. 2019.
A Hindu tea picker. Srimangal, Bangladesh. 2019.
Hindu tea pickers. Srimangal, Bangladesh. 2019.
Hindu tea pickers. Srimangal, Bangladesh. 2019.

My visa is quickly expiring, or else I would be tempted to stay longer in this stunningly beautiful country where surprises – and a culinary tradition – await the curious visitor at every turn.

The oldest cookie, from Mughal times. Old Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Ubiquitous street snacks. Dinajpur, Bangladesh. 2019.
Ubiquitous street snacks. Dinajpur, Bangladesh. 2019.
A giant vat of tasty biryani. Old Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Classic fish and rice Bengali meal. Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Cha after cha. Dinajpur, Bangladesh. 2019.

But it’s the people who make a difference. Day after day, I meet kind and generous Bangladeshi who welcome me to their hospitable country. No amount of dhonnobad is enough to thank all those who help make mine an unforgettable journey!

Dhaka. Bangladesh. 2019.
Old Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Hindu pilgrim in Kantajew Temple. Dinajpur, Bangladesh. 2019.
Old Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Train station vendor, en route to Srimangal. Bangladesh. 2019.
Train station vendor, en route to Srimangal. Bangladesh. 2019.
Train station vendor, en route to Srimangal. Bangladesh. 2019.
Old Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Old Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Old Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Old Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Bogra, Bangladesh. 2019.
Kumira Ghat. Chittagong, Bangladesh. 2019
Kumira Ghat. Chittagong, Bangladesh. 2019.
Old Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.

As always, children are dear to my heart. This is a country where more than half of the children live in poverty and many of them work in the vast informal sector with little protection…

Child bottle collector in train station, en route to Srimangal. Sylhet, Bangladesh. 2019.
Sariakandi. Bogra, Bangladesh. 2019.
Kumira Ghat, Chittagong, Bangladesh. 2019.
Children beggars in train station, en route to Srimangal. Sylhet, Bangladesh. 2019.
Puran Dhaka. Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Puran Dhaka. Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2019.
Kumira Ghat, Chittagong, Bangladesh. 2019.

Bangladesh taught me so many things. The word resilience never meant more. Professor Yunus is right in insisting that an alternative world is possible!

The only place where poverty should be is in museums.

– Professor Mohammed Yunus, Nobel Peace Laureate

Resident of PJ Sen heritage building. Chittagong, Bangladesh. 2019.

Clouds come floating into my life,

no longer to carry rain or usher storm,

but to add color to my sunset sky.

– Rabindranath Tagore

Kuriana, Barisal, Bangladesh. 2019.

All Content © 2022 by Jennifer Chan