Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Dhaka Calling

I've been here in Dhaka for two days and still getting over the jetlag. The roughly 12 hour time difference completely disorients you. I have only been out once, to the wedding reception of a friend. Otherwise, I've been ensconced at my parents' home. The city is oddly quiet, not surprising given that both the Eid and Christmas holidays have shut everything down. Quiet is a relative term---my point of reference is only the frenetic noise of the traffic infront of our house. There has been none so far. Yet, reading the newspapers, the city and the country seems as madly frenetic as ever. Millions of things are going on. Meetings, conferences, festivals, and most of all, weddings. In Dhaka, weddings (like fruits and vegetables) have seasons, and 'tis the season of weddings every December and January. There are literally dozens across the city every single night. Hotels and convention centers are booked, and some wedding party is facing some crisis at any given moment of the day. Based upon my recent annual visits, the weddings seem quite different from twenty years ago (my other point of reference). They seem much more homogenous and yet more colorful. Urban weddings of a certain class have the same series of events, mutating slowly every year into forms unrecognizable from before. I hear now that at the engagement parties, they make the food on the spot infront of the guests. New forms of authenticity are replacing old ones.

I'll venture out to the city later today. In the meantime, here are two random pictures from the last couple of days of news here. One an image of a street celebration of Eid (top) and the other a guy in a red suit dispensing joy yesterday (below), both here in the city. (Both pictures stolen from The Daily Star newspaper). No -- it's not all religion here, and yes, I'm not a big fan of by any stretch of the imagination. But just to start things off with some color on my musings on the trip to the desh this year.

Friday, December 07, 2007