October 09, 2009

Amago Dash

In a certain dialect, the title of this post means “My Country”. The scars of Partition that the Valleys of Indus and Ganges bear will never diminish since her sons will never be sure what “My country” means. But then, that’s the brilliance of it all. Even as the border remains tense, the people at the sides of it know that once they were the same nation.

I have always wanted to visit Bangladesh. This Business Trip was not exactly what I had in mind though. But then something is better than nothing. And of course being the “True Blue Ghoti” that I am, I needed to see the “other side”

What struck me as soon as I walked out of the airport in Dhaka was the greenery all around. Apart from the fact that it is a much greener city than most I have visited, Dhaka was no different from any other city. Same traffic snarls, same status of roads, same crowded streets and same heart warming welcome.

Only one evening was free before two packed days full of business meets with the country teams and the business directors would start in full swing. And the nomad in me decided to make the most of it.

The first stop was Dhaka University. Quite a few of my ancestors have taught there and I have heard about the glory days. The campus is beautiful and I hoped peaceful. But that was just an illusion. The university campus, much like JNU and CU was the starting point of many political flare ups. The campus and the city bore the symbols of who won the last general elections.

Going ahead a couple of more kilometers was the famed Dhakeswari temple. Ever since I have known people directly affected by the partition, I have heard elders say how they would love to go back just once to Dhakeswari Temple for some unfulfilled promise they made to the deity.

And on the way back I stopped over at the mausoleum of Nazrul, the rebel poet of Bengal. My early years have been spent in reciting his poetry much to the chagrin of my Tagore Loving parents. (The grief was that their first-born and apple of their eyes was reciting Sukanta and now the black sheep too chose Nazrul.)

Being the shameless marketer that I have become I asked to be shown around the busy markets and business districts and that’s how I landed in Gulshan. Being near the hotel I was staying in, I found it convenient to walk around the market. And while it was refreshing to see the signboards in Bengali, I thanked my lucky stars that the pulse of the market was no different from that of the sub continent. I knew knowing Bangladesh would not be that difficult. And it proved not to be.

The famed “Bangal cuisine”, the envy of all us “Ghotis” had to be given a miss though. Everything was a working lunch and dinner. But even then, I was bowled over by the hospitality of the team there. And thanks to them, I was able to orchestrate a full blown Bengali sentimental sequence with mom and grand mom.

Me: “Ma I have got you a dhakai jamdani and a Nakshi Kantha Stich”

Ma: “hrrmph. You are not staying back in Calcutta” (Please note, this was not a rhetorical question, neither an angry one. The hrrmph was something that only moms can give)

Me: “Na ma. By the way, is didima (grand ma) there? She gave me the idea.”

Didima: (without any query about my well-being) “So you got the sarees? Good boy. So as soon as you find a girl for yourself, you can give her those.”

Me:”What!!! Give ma the phone”

Ma: “hrrrmph”

Me: Speechless

Me: (Next call to Baba). “These contriving women of my family!!! Those things cost me a bomb and they want me to gift them to a hypothetical entity whose existence and future occurrence is seriously under question.”

Baba: “Heh Heh.”

Something troubled me though. I had always thought, given that the country had gained its independence foremost to safeguard its language and its people, I would see a lot more love and affection for the language. But the signage in the shops disappointed me. Bangla as a language was losing out on both sides.

Maybe I am wrong and I do hope I am.


Meow said...

So had good time??? I envy at your nomad like life Banjo ;) (in positive sense only)..

Ehm Ehm... so having the saree in your wardrobe?? to give it to the hypothetical entity eh? :P

Sowmi :)

Shreya said...

Oh great. Bangladesh. I envy you that you are able to muster up the enthu to try to get to know a new place. The entire of Maharashtra, with its ghaats and coasts, at my disposal, and all I want to do is sleep in the hotel room.

Madhurjya (Banjo) said...

@ Meow - I don't have any saree in my wardrobe. Please spare me such accusations in public :P

@ Shreya - Invite me for market visit