“Is Dhaka a favorable tourist destination?” – Inquires Naomi, a sophomore and a travel
enthusiast, residing in the States.
“Believe me, Naomi, no one in their right mind would visit Dhaka!” – replies Samiha, currently
an exchange student at Ithaca College and who’d spent 18 years in Dhaka. Samiha had
repugnance on her face when she answered.
But can we all agree with Samiha? Is Dhaka, the jadoor shohor, all that bad?
True, it’s not pleasant to be stuck in the middle of a traffic jam while the simmering heat of the
CNG auto-rickshaw engulfs you. Then there are the pickpockets, who’d keep an eye on your
belongings just as how a Leopard would prey on an antelope. Even after all that, anyone would
agree, hopefully, one day Samiha would do too, that the city has a certain charm to it.
In January, both Samiha and Naomi booked a ticket to Bangladesh. Naomi had an interest to visit
Dhaka and Samiha being her best friend couldn’t disappoint her. And I was asked to be their
voluntary travel guide to which I happily agreed. The reason for this was that, well, Samiha
wasn’t well accustomed to the southern part of Dhaka. Moreover, it has been a while since she
lived in the country.
We started our expedition with the old town, Puran Dhaka, ‘cause, it is, of course, the root of the
That’s where everything started. And that’s where the Nawabs resided. Moreover, history is
better experienced than read. Imagine the thrill that flooded Naomi and Samiha when they took a
walk inside the salmon-pink Ahsan Manzil. For visiting Lalbagh fort, I told them both to wait till
it’s dark, when the actual glamour of the Fort could be seen. Honestly, it looks utterly
charismatic with the lights silhouetting it against the dark.
As it was the month of January, they were both in for a treat. They may have visited clubs in the
states, but they were nothing in compared to the vivacious Shakrain! As you all know, Shakrain
is observed by flying flamboyant kites in the sky and flame-eaters entertaining onlookers by
manipulating fire. It’s a tremendously vibrant occasion, which signifies friendship and unity.
After all that hoorays, we were all starving. I’d consider it unfair if they didn’t get to taste a bit of
Kacchi while they were here. We had a choice set, which included, Nanna, Al-Razzak, Haaji and
miscellaneous. Without further delay, we took a table at Al-Razzak.
The tantalizing aroma made our mouths water. The waiter brought in plates full of Kacchi and
glasses of Borhani (Spicy Yoghurt Drink). As side items, there were mouthwatering kebabs
placed at the corner of our plates. Straightaway, we attacked our food.
If you are a foodie, then you’d feel yourself to have strayed in a province of Heaven. For the
most obvious reason – there is nothing like the taste of Kacchi. I repeat, nothing.
Both Samiha and Naomi were bookworms. As a good tour guide, I escorted them both to the
narrow alleys of Nilkhet. Needless to say, they loved it there. As a matter of fact, they were both
bemused by the pile of the rarest of rarest novels. If they asked for Politics, there was Marx, if
they wanted Literature, then there was Dostoevsky, and if they fancied Poetry, there was Tagore.
After they were done with their book hunting, I was hoping against hope that we get a CNG. We
were heavily laden with stack of books.
Eventually, we did hire a CNG. While nearing Hatirjeel, a lakefront in Dhaka, I told the CNG
Mama to pull by. “Mama” – in Bangla, it means your maternal uncle. It is used for addressing
almost everyone in our jadoor shohor. This implies that no matter how apathetic we become by
the tempo of this city, yet there is a bit of empathy left in us, at least, when we address someone
We are all strangers here yet somehow we are all interconnected.
The person next to you on the local bus, your Pathao driver, the tycoon reposed on the rear seat
of Mercedes, your CNG Mama and of course, you, share hopes, dreams and aspirations. And
truth be told, we do get tired. Yes, we get tired of dreaming. It’s only after we take a long deep
breath, we realize that the city is much more than lights, crowd and all the hustle-bustle. It is
simply magical. That’s what I would like to believe.
Probably and hopefully, by then, Samiha shared the same opinion. While Naomi caressed a stray
dog, Samiha was sharing smiles with an old beggar. Maybe, she was finally convinced that
Dhaka, the jadoor shohor, could be a favorable tourist destination.
Written By Ashfaqur Rahman