Thursday, June 30, 2005

First Blog from Dhaka

I have finally figured out how to set up a blog site, so that I can publish some of my photos.

Dhaka doesn't have alot of tourist sites, but just living here provides plenty of opportunities for photos. The photo of rickshaws is taken from Farmgate bridge - this is a major road transport point in Dhaka, with many buses, cars and people going in all directions. Rickshaws are no longer allowed to go along major roads or through major intersections, so they often 'hang' at either side. For the people who rely on them for transport (like myself) it makes things very difficult as it means they have to take you a complicated route via tiny sidestreets, or you have to get off and walk across the road. This is not so bad at the moment, but when the roads are 1 foot under water, it will not be pleasant. Apart from this, they are a great way to travel - I love them.

Taking photos is not a problem here - everyone likes to have their photo taken. In one of my first weeks, I took a photo in a market, very shyly, and was mobbed by people wanting to have theirs taken. As you can probably guess, the butcher doesn't have a fridge for the meat, so you buy your meat early in the morning, and they hack off a piece for you. If you buy chicken, they will slaughter the chicken on the spot. Personally, I have kept away from buying meat in the market - it is a little too 'bloody' for me, and have resorted to the one German butcher in Dhaka, or the occasional mince meat and tuna fish from the 1/2 dozen supermarkets in the city.

This photo from the brick building factory was taken on a boat trip - everyone wanted to have theirs taken, so we obliged. These people live and work around the brick 'mounds' (behind), which are like huge ovens. They are very hot to walk on or around. I'll talk a bit about child labour in another blog - suffice to say, most people don't have the luxury of keeping their child out of work.

The river trip was beautiful. Dhaka is built on a huge river basin, which is fed by 2 or 3 major rivers coming from India (the Ganges), Nepal, and China. It really does shape the identity of the country. This is a fishing boat which looks like it also serves as shelter for the fisherman. He is wearing a working version of a lungi - usually worn similar to a sarong, but labourers often wrap them between their legs so that they are more like shorts.

Lastly here are a couple of photos of me, one in my Benazir Bhutto outfit (enjoying a rare moment of illicit public affection), and one in the Mirpur Bihari refugee camp. Jesmin, with her head covered, works with me, as does Panaan standing next to me. SEEP does alot of work with the Bihari refugees and the camp is 10 minutes walk from the office. Whenever I go there I am followed by children - it feels very much like being a film star. Will write more about all that soon.