Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Some Sights of Dhaka

The area where I am living and working is in the Northern side of the city. It is the 'posh' part of the city called the Model Town area. Most of the foreign embassies are located here and ex-pats mostly live in this area as well. Many of the residential areas are walled or fenced off with only a couple of access points which are monitored by armed guards to keep the riff-raff out. You have to have the right stickers on your car otherwise they won't let you in.

Dhaka has a population of about 14 million and growing. There are people and traffic everywhere. The streets are mostly narrow with no footpaths and nowhere to park. Parking is a serious problem. They are building high rise shopping centres and office blocks everywhere but virtually no parking is provided. So everyone competes for limited parking space on the street with cars double or triple parking on the road blocking normal traffic. It is a real shambles.

The photos show some sights from around the area where I am living called the Gulshan and Banani areas. Of course the photos don't give any sense of the noise, smell and atmosphere of the place. It always seems to look nicer in the photo than what it is like in reality.

Gulshan Lake Scene

There are quite a few lakes in the area that are used for flood protection, taking the excess water during the rainy (summer) season June to August. You are lucky if you get an apartment overlooking a lake, although it has been known for people to bribe the authorities, "purchase" land on the lake edge, fill in a portion of the lake and build a new apartment block there, thus blocking out your view!!! Gradually the lake areas are getting filled in, reducing the available flood protection and creating worsening flood problems.

Main Intersection at Gulshan 2

Island Slum Area on Banani Lake, accessed by boat.

Slum Area Next to Banani Lake right next door to all the posh apartments. This is an area of about 2 acres where a slum village has been built by squatters. The housing consists of bamboo lattice screen walls and tin roofs on a dirt floor. The conditions are very primitive. They cook over open fires. Remember this is in a "posh" area of the city. The people appear to be relatively happy, healthy and well clothed. However, they would live basically hand to mouth, many of them living on less than US$1 a day. Many of them beg for a living or for extra money.

Typical Back Street. Narrow roads with lots of little shops along them.

Brass Shop. There are some delightful shops like this one. Chittagong in the South West of Bangladesh is an area where they send ships from around the world that are being scrapped. They beach these huge ships on the shore and then the locals pull them to bits for their scrap value. A lot of the brass items end up in shops like this in Dhaka. If you are into brass artifacts, this is the place to come.


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