Category Archives: Drik Images

Chobi Mela

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Rush hour commute (all day) at Farmgate bus terminal, Dhaka

Chobi Mela means Picture Festival and I can’t think of a better place to host such an event as chobi loving Bangladesh. Even compared to New York and Paris, Dhaka has one of the highest ratios of documentary photographers in the world. Much of that should be credited to Shahidul Alam, the founder of Pathshala: The South Asian Institute of Photography and Drik, a  photography agency that distributes the work of “Majority World” photographers many of whom are former Pathshala students.

The festival opened with a live video conference between Noam Chomsky from his office at MIT and the West Bengal writer Mahasweta Devi discussing  “freedom”, the festival’s theme this year. I haven’t seen so many gringos in six months. Yesterday I saw over a dozen exhibits at Shilpakala Academy and plan to  sit in on a few of the screenings and talks this week.

So much has been going on in Dhaka this weekend. Bishwa Ijtema, the world’s second largest Muslim pilgrimage  (after Mecca) is taking place this weekend in the northern part of the city. Three to four million visitors are expected from around the world. I was there yesterday and will post more soon as well as what I saw over at Dhaka University where celebrations took place for the Hindu deity Saraswati, the Goddess of knowledge and learning.

Drik Photo Agency and Pathshala

This morning I attended my security briefing at the American Embassy and later had lunch with Saiful Huq Omi, a very talented Bangladeshi photographer. Omi took me over to Drik photo agency and the Pathshala South Asia Institute of Photography. These are both internationally respected institutions founded by Shahidul Alam. In the late afternoon Omi dropped me off in central Dhaka. The amount of people was staggering- wide avenues like in New York or Paris completely packed with people. On the way back home the streets were almost completely dark because of a power outage, a not uncommon occurrence here.