After a hiatus of several years, last Saturday (May 4, 2013), I hopped on a ‘ship’ that we call ‘launch’ named “Sundarban-5” at Shadar Ghaat, Dhaka and headed off to Barisal to drop my sister at her medical school. Not only was the trip refreshing but it served as food for thought about how mechanized we have become in the big city. It was a breath of fresh air for a change.
The Pond after dawn
I reached the little town of Barisal at 6 AM when the sun was just hinting its majestic body on the horizon. By the time I reached the Medical College campus it was 6:30 AM and sky was bright and the grass was greener at Barisal. Trust me, it was greener! With the magnificent Krishnachura flower trees at the other end of the pond encompassing my sister’s hostel, it was a place of not only scenic beauty but also of a melancholic bliss. Rightfully, Dave Matthews sang “… all the colors mix together.”
The ecosystem of the pond (sounds right out of my environmental science textbook) was fascinating. The little concentric ripples throughout the pond were not pebbles being thrown into it but were the presence of fishes. As larks flew by leaving a gush of trail on the pond, I could but start shooting with my camera. Watch the video and note that those are not pebbles but fishes.
Interestingly, this combination of calm and beauty has an expiration time. When I returned to the same place in the afternoon,. The ripples were no longer present but the place was beautiful, nonetheless.
The Gutia Mashjid (Mosque)
I didn’t know what to visit in the new city when an Auto-wallah suggested I hire him at an hourly rate and visit the Gutia (even though that is not its official name but that is what it goes by) Mashjid (Mosque). I don’t know if he was trying to bilk more money out of me but he took the highway and we ended up at the outskirts of the city. Right when I was getting ready to yell at the man, my eyes caught sight of the majestic mosque. It was the most peaceful and beautiful mosque I had ever laid eyes on in Bangladesh. Trust me, I have seen the largest and most pricey ones but they (Bagerhaat’s Shatgombuj Mosque or Dhaka’s very own Baitul Mukarram) doesn’t hold the candle to this one from a holistic perspective.
I should note that as I was visiting the blissful and magnificent mosque, there was chaos between the police and some religious group in Dhaka – the capital. That is story for another day and I don’t want to ruin a peaceful piece by stories of bloodshed. Anyway, the mosque projected the peaceful nature of Islam (see the pictures below of old men discussing the goodness of religions). It was heavenly.
When I was content and on the verge of moving on to the next place to go to, the Khatib of the mosque suggested that I stay till sundown. It was already past afternoon; hence I said to myself, “There ain’t no harm in that! Even better if I prayed 2 rakats at this mosque – afterall that’s why they built it.” I did not regret the wait.
Past sundown, it was resplendent. The lights went up and the whole place lit up. I was taken aback for a moment since I had not seen such an architectural delight in a very long time. I stared at the mosque from a distance. Standing there like a fool, admiring the candy to my eyes, I could not stop clicking my camera. If you are here anytime, you must visit this place. (See pictures in the gallery below).
At the Docks
When it was time to bid farewell to Barisal, I headed for the “launch-ghaat” (the docks). I was no stranger to the clamorous nature of the docks and its people. The launch agents were shouting at the top of their voices that rhymed. They rhymed their chorus with their competition. If you do not own your ticket by then, you have to buy it from any one of them who are indeed chanting at the top of their voices for selling tickets. Again, if you do not have your ticket booked apriori, you will be snatched by the agent of a launch who is the first to reach you in the race for bagging passengers (Watch the videos). Fortunately, I had a cabin booked beforehand and therefore, I joined in with them with their chorus. Judging from my camera, they realized that they may get aired and consequently they upped the loudness of the chorus to another turn of the volume.
Now, how can I disappoint them? (Watch the videos to see that I kept my word).
There’s a story at every corner of everywhere you go. I was fortunate that my story at Barisal was a peaceful one – one that does not involve the mechanics of metropolitan Dhaka and the pollution that corrupt the environment and presently, the psyche of many Dhaka dwellers. I love my city – Dhaka but the fact of no-traffic-jams-whatsoever in Barisal screamed out to me, “It’s time for decentralization – Bangladesh.”