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.


  • At 5:46 AM, Blogger James Crittle said…

    Great first blog entry - makes us want to write one of our own - looking forward to a lesson upon return. I will be sending friends and family to your site. So much to say, good choice of first blog topics. Love from Linda and James

  • At 11:44 AM, Blogger Niall and Val said…

    Hi Laura - we hope your keeping very well. It looks challenging out there and culturally very different. You should be really proud of what your doing!! take care - love, Niall and Val.

  • At 3:18 PM, Blogger NorthsidePaul said…

    Hi Laura
    What an absolutely wonderful effort.
    This is certainly the way to go - beats the "old" email hands down!
    I have shared some of your news with others - now I can direct them here.
    I do feel guilty not having emailed so far but certainly have appreciated receiving yours.
    Thanks and looking forward to more!
    Love from Paul

  • At 4:21 PM, Blogger greenwichmardi said…

    Hi Laura - fantastic site. Love it! Thanks so much for taking the time to share your news and now pics with us. We all miss you and I for one envy your adventures in far away lands.

    Adore your wardrobe.

    Love, Mardi

  • At 6:02 PM, Blogger TraceyB said…

    Hi Laura, this is fantastic. Soooo colourful (and I loved your Benazir Bhutto outfit, suits you). You look happy. I really envy your bravery. Its funny, I'd never heard of a "blog" until my course this semester where I had to do one for my assignment, I will have to send you mine too, it was about the process of getting my digital music essay together. Not as exciting as this but it turned out to be fun. Look forward to further entries and photos (as well as personal emails). Talk soon, Love Tracey.

  • At 8:05 PM, Blogger Julie Macken said…

    Hi Laura,
    How cool are you organising this blogsite - it is such a wonderful way to communicate and I love those photos and stories.
    Things sound like they have gone from being very hard to very interesting and exciting - you are so brave to hang in for long enough for the chnage to happen - me I would have been hightailin for home long before!
    And how lucky are you that you look completely gorgeous in those colours and designs! Benazair eat your heart out!
    Not much happening in the West, just the usual terrorists bombing Iraq (coalition forces) and other terrorists bombing London (Wahidist forces) and of course Blair/Howard/Bush claiming none of them are related - like Alice in Wonderland minus the interesting characters.
    I think your priest friend is right - you are fortunate to be there now.
    Right again soon, love Julie M

  • At 11:56 PM, Blogger Deborah said…

    Hi Laura - great updates to the BLOG - and extremely interesting... will email soon.
    Good luck with this project.
    love Deborah

  • At 2:55 AM, Blogger Rohan Cannon said…

    Hey there Laura.
    Muzz told me about the Blog site and couldnt wait to check it out.....How Cool!!!!
    Thanks for posting such a detailed,insightful and passionate description of what you are up to in Dhaka.
    You are an "incredible" women doing what you are doing.
    Nothing much to report from Sydney town "buisness as usual" here.
    Miss you lots.....


  • At 2:18 PM, Blogger Richard Hardwick said…

    Hi Laura,
    What a great blog site, very informative. A lot of sites are fairly self-centred, this site is all about Dhaka. Brilliant pictures too. I'm really looking forward to reading further postings as your work evolves. What a challenge you face! I've worked in similar areas such as Calcutta and appreciate your level of committment. Love from Richard

  • At 5:29 AM, Blogger greenwichmardi said…

    Hi Laura,
    I'm sitting in the office at Fox Studios, annoyed because we're working so late and I'm over it. So I looked up the site - now I feel like a heel for complaining about my lot in life! My God, those poor little girls - what a life they have. It sounds like you sure do know how to handle it though, I'm not sure I could be as casual as you (or sensible is a better word) my heart would break.
    sure hope you and Murray stay well and don't catch too many more bugs, miss you.
    Love, Mardi


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