April 26, 2016

Bangladesh : A Neighbour's Perspective

Captured Off Mumbai Coast

Bangladesh is one such country which many people wouldn't have visited. The main reason for negligible international tourist traffic into this country is the complete absence of world class monuments/places etc which would have attracted them in the first place. So on enquiring with numerous local residents on the places of interests, I always drew a blank. I had visited Bangladesh on 2 occasions and on both occasions it was for business purpose. The first impression of travelling in the streets of Dhaka is the frustrating traffic jams and next being people everywhere. And you can assume the gravity of the situation when the person describing this resides in Bangalore, a place where traffic jams are as common as the sun rising in the east. Bangladesh has the highest population density in the world (apart from the city states like Singapore etc ), hence as expected you cannot escape from the crowd. 

Bangladesh is a muslim majority country (90%) and was liberated from Pakistan (with India's help), after the army of the present day Pakistan committed autocracies on the local Bangla people in the year 1971. In my opinion the population of Bangladesh identify themselves as Bengali first, rather than muslims. Hence this makes the majority of the population liberal in their thoughts. But unfortunately of late, this country has been in news for the assassinations carried out by IS agents, of famous bloggers who had been expressing their liberal views.  

Skyline Of Dhaka
The foremost factors which can make Bangladesh very attractive among the tourists is the food and shopping. Food is primarily non-veg, hence making a person like me who is a vegetarian non-adventurous in exploring the various options. Shopping wise Bangladesh has numerous garment industries which supply clothes to various international chains all around the world. Hence you can expect to get a very good deal during your shopping endeavours. Further majority of the population understand/speak Hindi, because of their former connection to Pakistan and of late the popularity of the Bollywood movies. 

Thanks to the population density and the narrow roads, the jams within the city are real pain in the ass. With a population of close to 168 million people, the only job centre in Bangladesh is the Dhaka city. Hence because of this everyone migrates to this lone city resulting in crumbling of its infrastructure. I was staying in the most upmarket area of Dhaka, the Gulshan region wherein you can find all the major embassies. Even in these areas I used to take close to an hour to traverse 8-9 kms. This city allows the usage of cycle rickshaws and when you augment that with the narrow roads, you end up with traffic moving at the pace of the cycle rickshaws. 

Anyway end of the day the people of Bangladesh are very warm and welcoming. And that is what really matters whenever you are visiting another country as a guest. And the single aspect wherein they impressed me, was the fact that they stand in queue for the lift everywhere, which unfortunately is not a practise in many countries including India. You can see greenery everywhere especially when flying over the city of Dhaka, due to the abundance of water especially from the Ganga and the Brahmaputra river flowing through the entire length and breadth of the country. 

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