2012 ended with lots of bitter and sweet memories and here I’m updating my blog after almost a year - not cool I know but ahh life! Amidst all the positive and negative chaos that life offers, the traveling I get to do always comes as a breeze of fresh air. It makes you realize that getting out of your comfort zone is not easy but the way ‘change’ affects your mental and physical being, it’s worth enduring all the dis-comfort. Thanks to all the traveling that I have done in past 4 years, I now secretly wish to be a nomad or more decently a backpacker who could travel to far and wide lands, seas, skies……but I sense this wish may not be granted anytime soon so, I’m quietly adding it to my list of post-retirement plans - let’s hope I’m fit to back-pack at 60 or more importantly be rich enough!
Anyway till I retire, I hope and pray that I travel to at least one new place every year and keep turning this blog into a travelogue. Today, I shall write about the ‘new place’ I got to explore in 2012 - Bangladesh.
Mochli and Chaawal or Bhaat and maach (Rice and Fish) is what most of the people say instantly upon hearing the name “Bangladesh”. I am glad that after traveling to this country twice in past 1 year, now I have a lot more than bhaat and maach to think and talk about when referring to Bangladesh. My first trip to Dhaka was in May 2012 - a 5 day trip packed with meetings and work and more work, yet thanks to great colleagues and friends, we still managed to take a little bit of time to see some of Dhaka. The next trip came in November 2012 and this time it was a 3 week trip which ended up being month long, however, if we talk about work things were not too different - it was hectic! BUT there’s one thing that I always feel lucky about - the people I meet while traveling are mostly as fun-loving and enthusiastic as I am and this time it was no different. From amongst our Bangladeshi colleagues and my Pakistani teammates, I’d always find someone or the other ready to help me experience Bangladesh be it through sight-seeing, shopping or food! While mere words may not be enough to capture the beautiful experience it was traveling through different parts of Bangladesh, I would still try and jot down here the ‘Ah-ha’ moments of my tours along with some pictures. Here you go readers on a short virtual journey of the land of cycle-rickshaws:
- Our great Bangladeshi friends and gracious hosts Raihan and Zakir made sure to make us taste most of the great food that Dhaka offers during our first trip and also see places of historic significance. Foods I loved: Boneless Hilsa from Oh Calcutta - this fish is Bangladeshi equivalent of Pakistani palow machi also referred to as palla fish. Next in line is Arabic Nan by Dhanshri and tasty drink Aampura which is made with ripe mangoes and Zeera Pani - made with cumin seeds. This drink is considered to be a good digestive so, it’s always good to have a glass of it after throwing your taste-buds a party. Another absolutely mouth-watering delicacy that I have fallen in love with is Bangladeshi Rosh-Gullay (Rusgullay) - a sweet that everyone must have while visiting Bangladesh. When it comes to fast-food, A&W ended up being my favorite fast-food place primarily because of its specialty - Root Beer! Before too many thoughts start racing through your mind, must clarify that this was a non-alcoholic drink made with barley water and mint and served with a topping of ice cream
- Another interesting thing I noticed in Dhaka was how pans are served. We located an air-conditioned pan shop where we received pan menu that we could order from and bought a pan worth Tk. 200 . There were even more expensive ones as well
- Places we visited were Ahsan Manzil - the residence of Nawab Siraj-ud-Daula and place where Muslim League started from. For history lovers, Ahsan Manzil has a nice museum which will take you back to pre-Indo-Pak partition days and you will get to see how the Nawabs used to lead life back then - well, as anyone could guess and as the museum would say, it was lavish!
- Then we went to Sadarghat - one of the largest river ports in world.
- Next stop was Lalbagh fort - the place that UNESCO World Heritage Center website describes as “A palace fortress constructed by Prince Muhammed Azam, third son of Moghul Emperor Aurangzeb, 1678-9.”
- Visiting a new place and not shopping? Not possible so, we decided to check out South Asia’s largest and world’s 12th largest shopping mall Bashundra City Mall in Dhaka and burnt a hole in our pockets as the place is pretty expensive but worth checking out.
- Apart from the places, things that interested me and that I feel we should follow here in Pakistan as well are: use of solar energy is much more common there than it’s here. You could see solar panels on top of every other building. Next, despite horrible traffic jams, use of seat belts is a norm in Dhaka and the most impressive of all things - use of single language ‘Bangla’ all across the country and that too with pride!
This is mostly what I had to cover from my first trip. There’s lot more that I have to share from my second one so, that’s what Part 2 of this post will be all about. Hope to cover that soon!