Sunday, 30 November 2008

Doors and windows!!

How could I go anywhere and not take photos of doors and windows!!! Here's some:

Then an old palace

Wandering on past the street with the facade of colonial buildings, past some typical villages shops including the "rickshaw garage", we headed offroad past an orchard and vegetable patch to what I think used to be a palace but today is more of a factory, a recycling factory where tyre inners are cut up. Not that we saw any evidence of work since it was Friday.

But a beautiful courtyard decorated by mosaics and stone columns, and many of the buildings with a touch of pink. It could be absolutely stunning if restored. Here are a few photos:

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Sonargaon - the colonial past

This consisted a street bordered by crumbling houses and their facades but there were still traces to show how beautiful these buildings must have been.

There was wrought iron edging the upstairs balconies, carved stone lintels above the doorways,

columns with ornate decorations supporting the verandahs and small patches of mosaic decoration.

Only one or two seemed to have people living in them and they were in better condition.


After rather a hectic week, yesterday I had a van so a group of us went for a day trip out of Dhaka to the old capital of Sonargaon. It contains buildings built between the 15th and 19th centuries, with architecture from the era of the Sultanate, Mughal and colonial period. It originated as the capital of the fifteenth-century ruler of Bengal - Isa Khan. Only 23 kilometres from central Dhaka, it took us almost 2 hours to get there but only one hour to come home.

The first place we stopped was at the museum but it closed before we had time to enter but we could wander around the grounds. The above building looked like an old palace but I am not sure if that was the case. This is some close-up detail of the building above.

There was also a couple of lakes, with the first of many patches of mauve-flowering water hyacinths that we saw. There were lots of Bangladeshi people wandering around and relaxing. There shops selling craft goods but nothing food wise.

Many of the exterior walls were decorated with mosaics such as the one below.

Entertainment for the children consisted of a "man-powered" ferris wheel shown below. There was also two "man-powered" merry go rounds for the younger ones.

Saturday, 15 November 2008


Last night I went to see the school production of Grease and it was good, really good. Might you it ought to have been the number of classes many of the participants have missed. The girl who played Sandy had a lovely voice but I couldn't help laughing when she said she was from Sydney, Australia - long black hair, dark brown skin and brown eyes are not your typical Australian colouring. Not sure why they didn't change it to Dhaka, Bangladesh as I'm sure that would have got a laugh. The singing was great, dancing OK at times and the couple of teachers that were in it were hilarious!
Mind you they had to hold the show for us - a bus load of teachers from the school, as we ended up taking longer than planned to get there. Met at the American Club where it takes forever to pay your bills, then stopped to pick one of the students up, waited 5 minutes and still nobody appeared then got caught in traffic. Of course being Bangladesh there was problems, technical problems. This time it was no sound. Apparently one hour before the start there was no sound what so ever then during interval the sound went again so the second half was delayed.
A pleasant evening but expensive by Bangladeshi standards at 500 Taka for a ticket. It was also something different to do and see on a quiet Friday.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Drawing a crowd

As soon as you stop anywhere here in Bangladesh, a crowd rapidly develops. Founded on curiosity the people generally they stay a metre or so away. It happened quite a few times on the heritage walk. Sometimes they gathered outside the shop entrance.

Another time is was when we stopped for a couple of people to get a green coconut for a fresh drink of coconut milk.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Old Heritage walk buildings

The focus of the heritage walk was to view some of the old buildings in the area, that were once beautiful but are now in various states of disrepair. Unfortunately there is not the money or the inclination to restore these buildings to their former glory.
We started at Pogose School build in 1848, and still used as a school today. It was partially renovated a few years ago but the money ran out. There is a lovely wooden banister on the staircase in the centre of the building below. We got let in by a caretaker who has been there for 43 years. Outside were lots of the local lads playing cricket as the grounds are one of the few spacious areas around Hindu Street. Here is the school.

Some detail of the school building.

There are many houses bordering Hindu Street, whose upstairs often have a colonial facade in front of a Moghul facade. Inside the rooms are tiny, the passages dark and the stairways narrow as we see when we go inside a few of them. He is some aging detail above a doorway.

Most of the houses have a central courtyard, either the entire height of the building or just the upper floors. Here is a girl in one of the courtyards.

This is a courtyard in another house.

An upstairs house facade that is typical of many in the area.

The Pink Fort, a little bit of a contrast to the houses we looked at!!!! It is today a museum.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Old Dhaka heritage walk

This morning I joined another teacher and a few other people I didn't know on a free heritage walk around Old Dhaka. It focused on Shakhari Bazaar, or Hindu Street, and the surrounds. As you can gather this is a Hindu area of Dhaka with many buildings dating back to the early 1800s. plus it is an area of local craftsmen, including the famous bracelet makers that cut one piece bracelets from conch shells and lots of kite shops. The local kite festival is coming up in August. Here is some of the colour.A shopkeeper blowing the famous conch shell, which are imported from India.
Making the conch shell bracelets

Adding a fine iron powder to the drum skin to improve the sound.
Kite shopping is done!

Fresh meat anyone????
Rosebuds for sale.

What colour would you like?

I will do another post on the buildings.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

The lake is going down . . . . . .

One of the nice things about where I live is that I can look out my living area or off the balcony and get a pleasant view over a small lake that is backed some greenery with the tall buildings of the city centre off in the distance.

However in the last week I have noticed that the water level in the lake is going down. Previously, especially after the 3 days of continuous rain last weekend, the water level was almost up to the doorway of the "shacks" on the other side of the lake.

But in the last couple of days it has gone down, way down. A couple of metres lower I would say. Now all the muddy bank and accompanying trash is visible in front of the "shacks".

This building here shown at present, used to be used by the boys as a diving board into the water. They would climb onto the roof, take a run and jump off splashing into the lake. Now as this photo shows, that is not option as the water barely comes up to the edge, let alone having enough to jump into.
The reason - there is a new bridge opening shortly about 50 metres further up the lake from where I live that will join Gulshan 2 to Banani (Road 11 in particular) so they are busy finishing that. Plus they are dumping earth into the lake on this side to create a road from what was a track along the lake edge to link with the bridge. The trucks bring in fill and the bulldozer spreads it out.
The local people come and stand and watch what is happening. Something out of the ordinary for them it is. It also makes a pleasant playground, as close as they will ever get to a sand pit, for some local boys.

So I think my peace and quiet may be partially shattered in the near future. There is more information about the bridge on the blog, "Dhaka - a visual record", which I have a link to on the right hand side of my blog. According to that blog the bridge is meant to open in November 2008!! Maybe by the end but that would certainly be quick for Bangladesh.

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