Shuvo shokal from Dhaka,
Jamuna Future Park
6. Standing incongruously in neighbouring Bashundhara is Jamuna Future Park. This is a complex which includes a colossal shopping mall – less than half-filled at this stage – cheek by jowl with a ride park, replete with modern, new theme park-standard contraptions designed to terrify (you know the ones). This complex is half built and must be losing money hand over fist every day. The mall is a six-storey, sophisticated glass complex towering over the two-lane connecting road which is strewn with rubbish, dodgy drains and rickety rickshaws. The rides seem to only occasionally be in use, begging the question: Did someone misjudge the market? or Exactly how long into the future is this hoping to project this 3rd World nation? The whole complex seems almost an anachronism. One of the lads ion Grade 12 vouchsafes, “They don’t care how much money they lose. They have so much money they can afford to lose.”
7. Dengue Fever is a real cause for concern here, at least at certain times of the year. Like Malaria (less common here), Dengue is transmitted through mosquito bites. To combat the threat, there’s a plethora of options, including an insecticide spray called “HIT”. The one which represents by far the most fun (some Australians might say ‘the funnest’) is the mosquito racquet. This is about the same size and shape as a tennis racquet. It contains a rechargeable battery and zaps the mosquito when you successfully intersect with its flight path. Nifty! We have no mosquitoes in our pad due to my vigilance with this racquet.
8. For reasons no-one can adequately explain, it’s a very time-consuming process to establish a bank account for foreigners here. The school hopes to achieve this feat before Christmas. In the interim, we are paid monthly in cash. We report to the administration section of the office and sign for an envelope which bulges to about 5 cm in width. The 1000 taka notes are stapled together! We haven’t yet had to resort to the barrows made famous in pre-war Germany but payday is the one day I take a bag to school. I don’t really want to be carrying 230 000 taka through the streets of Bashundhara on the way home (the same streets described in 6. above).
9. Eid is a festive time of year for Muslims in Bangladesh. There are a few different versions but Eid-Ul-Adha is early in October. We haven’t quite worked out the mechanics but it seems to work like this: anybody who owns a cow or large meat-giving animal brings it into the city during the week before Eid. The cattle fill the side streets and footpaths of the main streets. On a certain day, the cattle are auctioned. The buyers (the more well-to-do folk) slit the throats of said cattle, chop the carcasses into thirds for allocation. One third goes to the family, one third to friends and one third to the poor. (One of the pillars of Islam is to give to the poor.) According to a primary school child’s assignment, Eid is “another opportunity for the Muslims to get together and enjoy. Special occasions like this helps to bring them together under a common banner of sharing, caring and celebration.”