Durga Puja, Shakari Bazar
A few months ago I was video taping some interviews in Shakhari Bazar, the Hindu neighborhood of Old Dhaka with one of the students from IUB. We talked with two men that made and sold Indian musical instruments. Their shop had been in the same location for over one hundred years and has remained in the family for several generations.
Two weeks ago as I was walking in Old Dhaka one of the men I had interviewed recognized me and asked if I could make him a copy of the video tape. It so happened that the other man I filmed had a heart attack and passed away shorty after the interview.
On the road to Fuldi
This morning I caught a bus hoping to explore some of the villages North East of Dhaka. The only problem was that none of the destinations are marked in English but as luck would have it a Bangladeshi woman with impeccable English was sitting in the front row. Moments later Doctor Fawzia Khan told me about her mission and I decided to accompany her. She was going to her families village about 30 km and 3 buses rides away carrying the portrait of her father wrapped in newspaper. It ended up taking us 2 1/2 hours to get there. All of a sudden in the third vehicle (a mini pick-up called a tempo), it started pouring sheets of rain as we bumped along down a muddy single lane surrounded by flooded rice fields, jute plants and lilies, the national flower of Bangladesh.
Dr. Khan holding a portrait of her Father
Dr. Khan lived and practiced in Texas for over 12 years but returned to Bangladesh one year ago after her mother passed away. Her father, Fasi Uddin Khan was an educator and Doctor who founded a school in the village we visited. Over 700 students attend that school today. Twice a week Dr. Khan’s mission is to visit her village and treat patients in a small clinic behind a pharmacy. Dr. Khan recently started Shurjobanu Health & Education Foundation (SHEF) in honor of her mother Shamsunnahar Khan. SHEF is already providing scholarships to students of Fuldi high school.
Many of her relatives in the village also practice some form of traditional medicine and for me she represents the independence and strength of Bangladeshi women. Ten minutes after we arrived the electricity went off and for the next few hours the place was so dark that it was a challenge to make a photo, even with my light sensitive digital camera.
Last night I met a young man who invited me to a Buddhist ceremony. Most of the Buddhists in Bangladesh come from the hill tribe region of Chittagong, the second largest city a few hundred miles from Dhaka. The “temple” is only a store front in a “shopping complex” on the forth floor of a non descriptive building. The care and intention of the ceremony transformed it into a house of worship. After chanting and prayers, a simple but delicious meal of rice, vegetables and fish was served. How they managed to feed a couple of hundred people in such a small place- women and children ate first- everyone on the floor was quite a feat. The man next to me must have been quite a big shot- he owns a garment factory and was planning to attend an apparel convention in Las Vegas next week. Now how would you begin to describe Las Vegas to a Bangladeshi Buddhist?