July 03, 2007

Take Two Minutes to Humour a Homesick Boy

Alright people, I know most of you are silent, no-footprint visitors to this blog but take two minutes out of your day to answer a very simple question. If you've ever been to Dhaka you're qualified to answer this question. I have nothing to offer in return except my prayers, good karma and perhaps some hilarity of your own creation. So don't be shy and leave me some (anonymous if needed) feedback. ALL RESPONSES WELCOME!

So here's the big question: If you were in Dhaka for just enough time to visit just one public place, what would it be? Feel free to leave a reason or not. And assume that you've had time enough to go home and eat some home-cooked food (trust me, your stomach will feel better).

My own top spot: New Market, where all people mingle regardless of class, gender and religion, where food and books are aplenty, and where the lassis are made fresh and the fuchkas always taste better..

21 comments:

Anthony said...

It's New Market from this corner as well. For the same reasons - books, food, and also some really nice time with a girl.

Anonymous said...

TSC chottor... hands down! No place is livelier than that...

Baangal

Anonymous said...

the ghat from where the steamers take off in old Dhaka - filled with happy memories of sailing towards the heart of BD - an unknown which has still kept as many secrets as it has yielded stories..
bonbibi

Rumi said...

Used to be

1. Farmgate : No longer as you cant get off their due to all the new traffic regulations.
I loved the shik kabab in front of Ananda hall, bombai Zilapi and high volume music at farmview super market.

2. Elephant road, for Bideshi shirt, juta, and Gitali for new music. Fresco (lassi) in chandni chak, cheap T shirts front of Dhaka college.

Lately

1. Gulshan # 2 roundabout. Good food and other good stuffs.

2. Rifle square, cheap DVD, Software, some bowling fun @ a cost which could have fed 1000 hungry children.

With time class changes. Ha!

Anthony said...

There was also a nice kebab shop on Mymenshingh Rd, between Farmgate and Tejgaon thana - Hiramon I think the name is.

zak said...

TSC chottor.

asif said...

Lots of Dhaka Uni people here I see!:) TSC chottor is happening alright. Unfortunately I've never hung around there with my friends from DU, but I did take this "foreign" (ie. white) friend of mine to TSC to show her around when she was visiting. Quite an experience, must say. She loved it, and people there were extremely nice.

Rumi bhai, poster chobi ta kintu shudhu Farmgate r "new and improved" traffic regulations er jonno possible hoise. This is where all rickshawallas have to come to a dead stop, or risk being beaten by a baton-wielding traffic policeman. Griller modhdhey diye Farmview supermarket hoito dekhte paaben, hidden by a BRTC double-decker. Farmgate r shaamney kabab khai nai, tobe winter e gorom jilaapi kheyechi.

Anthony, is/was Hiramon located where Cooker's 7 and all those Biriyani houses are now, right opposite the media offices of DS and NTV? Or was it in one of the alleyways like the Testori Bajar alleys? My personal favourite kabab places are tucked in the corner of Elephant Road and Mirpur Road, and of course, the ones in Puran Dhaka.

Which reminds me: bonbibi, eloquent as ever. The ghats are in a class of their own. My personal favourite though is the one right next to the Buddhijibi Sritishowdho, behind Jigatola, where if you cross the river you come across this small little hut serving some of the spiciest shingaras in the city.

asif said...

Just wanted to add: thank you to all those who have taken the time to respond. And keep it coming people. Just because you've never posted before doesn't mean you can't today! I don't bite :). (ok fine, I do, but only at Hitchens and Badrul Ahsan!)

Rumi said...

TSC... reminds me of Raju...Raju's dead body... a kid who almost grew up in our home.. my younger brother's friend from the childhood days...

TSC also reminds of a friend.. Mirza...tall charishmatic Mirza... Got shot in front of the Guruduwara... by bullets coming from Rokeya Hall shot by Ovi and gong... Mirza crawled over there ( Despite repeated requests not to ) to collect the bullet ridden body of a fellow warrior...

This is from those days of regular gunfight of Ovi and Iliyas groups.



Sorry for digressing Asif. But for me Dhaka is now a mixture of places, people and memories.

asif said...

Bhai,

Nothing related to Dhaka here is a digression, it's part of the story. Apni joto chaan "digress" koren. And that message goes out to everyone.

Anthony said...

Hiramon was on the other (northern) side of Farmgate. It was on your left as you faced towards the airport. It was in front of a hotel called Shalimar.

The best kebab in Dhaka I've had is in the Bihari colony of Mirpur. I advise against going there without a local though.

TSC is one of those places that a DU-grad (or close friends of DU-grad) would appreciate lot more than an outsider.

I like Russell Square as well, though too much adda by the lake one winter day in 2001 resulted in severe cold!

I don't know how much of this you can still do, but rickshaw rides are also great. And not just in Dhaka. The best way to take in mid-town Manhattan is through a rickshaw (I believe the American term is pedicab) ride from the Central Park down the 5th Avenue to Empire State Building and then back via Broadway to Columbus Square.

Saif said...

Dhaka to me is about certain people - my relatives. I personally don't have a lot of myself invested in the city itself for its own sake. This may be a function of not having grown up in Dhaka and only visited. But on the other hand there are other parts of the country that I would visit that I feel an intense sense of attachment to - my desher bari in Jamalpur for example, Mymensingh town, Bogra, even the Jamuna bridge which I've loved driving across. I've been scratching my head trying to think of one public space in Dhaka that I miss meaningfully. I miss a lot of people - I particularly miss my nana and nani right now. But public places in Dhaka - nothing really jumps at me... Ramna Park may be, but only because it's an escape from the craziness of what's around it.
I'm risking being highly unpopular with my honesty, I suppose.

asif said...

Nope. It's part of the story.

Fugstar said...

public space, as in nothing to do with family or private institutions?

not fair!

ok
family's bookshop in newmarket is a neat place to be around the time of iftari. i like the bridge linking it to gausia market, great night view.

theres this little room at the airport beside the stairs on the way out...

gulshan 2, taqwa and dhanmndhi eidghah and no 7 mosques

bogra... in general

shyamoli bus stand

randomly assaulting DU professors.

i' will miss

Purple said...

The National Assembly, 'cos I is a Louis Kahn fan (he designed it) - and I haven't seen it live.

asif said...

Fugstar, I don't know what parts of that were a joke and what not, but I do hope the assault was a joke.

Purple, Jatiyo Shongshod was #2 on my list. You should really go check it out sometime.

shafiur said...

Ramna park in winter with bhapa peetha in one hand and canon eos 5d in the other. Purana Paltan, to peer into dilapidated buildings which have had so much impact on recent history. And plonk me down anywhere in Old Dhaka, absolutely anyhwere, but ok maybe preferably Gulistan, to wander around through all the lanes. Then happen upon a big road and try and imagine the presence of elephants announcing a new film back in the 50s.

Anthony said...

Tired of the same old poltical debates, I've asked your question at recent Deshi dinner addas. Those with a DU connection tend to go with TSC. Other than TSC (and non-DU crowd), New Market is favourite with people on the greener side of 40 and Gulistan is for those on the other side. Diaspora like Gulshan, while people who spent their school days in Dhaka but has been abroad since then seems to like Sangsad Bhaban.

Anonymous said...

Lalbagh Fort

South Wall. Picturing the Buriganga River as it once would have been.

Abeer said...

I'm a hopelessly addicted urban wanderer but have found it hard to get my public Dhaka groove on because of the uneven male-female ratio on the streets and consequently the staring.

That said, I like the incredible bustle of Shantinagar's moors (near Pir Shaheber goli) where my Nanu used to live and I used to visit frequently as a child. I know it's probably ridiculously more chaotic and intense than say 20 years ago, hell, 30 years, but in some ways, my youthful memory colours it profoundly similarly to now.

I also love the market strip in Badda, just north of the TV station, with the massive bamboo stacks that reach endlessly into the sky, and the tiny lamplit sheds selling anything, anything.

Ramna Park is still lovely and large and mysterious.

Elephant Road and its crowded shops.

And yeah, pretty much any market, New or old or diasporic. In particular, the kacha bajar in Karwan Bazar comes to mind - visually mindblowing.

asif said...

Shafiur,

I admit I haven't gone down to Puran Dhaka as much as I'd like. Thanks for the tips. Next time I'm there, I'll definitely check out the lanes of Gulistan. Are you serious about the elephants? Amazing city we live in!

Anthony,

Thanks for getting me a larger sample! As I told purple, Shongshod Bhobon is #2 on my list. Gives away my roots eh?:)

Anonymous @ 2:52,

South Wall is #3. I just like sitting there in the breeze and people watch. Had no idea that the Burigonga passed underneath it.

Abeer,

I think you gave yourself away as a photographer as soon as you called Kawran Bajar "visually mindblowing".:) Most Dhakaites complain about the smell and how offensive it is to their "bhodroloke" sensibilities! Will be checking out your blog as soon as I have some time.

If there's one thing I absolutely hate about my city and would do almost anything to change, it is how hostile public spaces are to women. Our great shame as a people I'm afraid.

Elephant road holds a special place in my heart for too many reasons for me to elaborate here. At the corner of Elephant and Mirpur Roads, hidden between the punjabi stores is this small deshi restaurant that serves the best roasted chicken there is. The kabab isn't all that bad either. I'd recommend the paratha over the naan.

To all the regular commenters - Anthony, Baangal, bonbibi, Rumi bhai, Saif bhai, fugstar - thank you!

To all the new commenters- zak, purple, shafiur, the anonymous commenter @ 2:52, abeer - thank you and hope to see you back whenever you can make the time!

I really, really enjoyed hearing about each and every one of your experiences of Dhaka. And by no means treat this as a cue to end discussion.

PS. number 1 "homesick boy" according to the god of all things internet, Google. http://www.google.ca/search?hl=en&q=homesick+boy&meta=