Covered up tea stall during Ramadan
Ramadan is over and things are returning to normal. Nice to see men congregating and drinking tea out in the open, During the past two months I’ve met only ONE traveler on the streets of Dhaka. Sure, there are a number of expats in my neighborhood working with the embassies and numerous ngo’s but Bangladesh just isn’t on the backpacker or tourist map. It finally struck me… so maybe that’s why I’m Mr. Celebrity here. I can’t walk down the street without crowds gathering and people constantly asking:
- Where are you from?
- What is your name?
- How long have you been here?
- What is your job?
- How do you feel about Bangladesh?
- Where do you live?
- What is your phone number/email address?
Often people will then insist that I visit their homes. How would that make you feel?
Covered up tea stall
Many of my students are fasting for the month of Ramadan and it’s taking it’s toll on my late afternoon photo class. Some of the normally animated ones are having a hard time keeping their eyes open. No reflection on their teacher of course. The rhythm this month feels off kilter. People wake up at four am to have their meal and then go back to sleep for a few hours. Things slow down in the afternoon- I can’t imagine how people can work so hard without water in this sauna like weather- but as sundown approaches you can feel an excitement in the air as people buy special “Iftar” food on the streets and rush home to break fast. Restaurants and tea stalls are covered up during the day for the people inside who -like myself- aren’t able or willing to fast.
The woman on the right is being comforted after losing her baby
Last night I went to a rehearsal for a play by young woman garment workers. Bangladesh is a major supplier of clothes to the USA and other parts of the world. There are hundreds of factories (huge six floor building) through out Dhaka alone. The young woman were being directed (he called himself a facilitator) by a young professor of drama from Dhaka University. One of the young men translated the plot- real stories from the workers lives that also includes a dialogue with the audience at the end of the play. The director had just picked up a copy of “The Vagina Dialogues” earlier in the day and was also reading Franz Fanon’s “Black Skin, White Masks.”
After rehearsal, they invited me to stay and break fast with them. We ate special food for Ramadon called Iftar- deep fried snacks and very sweet cakes- on newspapers spread out on the floor Big thanks to my photographer friend Saiful Haq Omi and Anis for the invite. Their organization Counter Foto is sponsoring the performance and I plan to see how it all comes together.