I live and work in an area known as the “diplomatic enclave.” It’s still Dhaka, but not as intense as the rest of the city. We are shielded from a lot of the drama and stress of daily life in Bangladesh, which of course is a benefit to us. But it’s also a wall, preventing us from understanding how people here live. We can’t get out easily, either. Security restrictions limit our movements in the city. So I was glad that the Embassy organized a tour of the Old City, led by local university students. Of course, I jumped at the chance to experience parts of the city that I don’t usually have the chance to see.
While we were walking through the winding streets of the old city, one of the students asked me: “Are you bored in Dhaka?”
I seriously thought that she was joking, but she wasn’t. It’s hard to believe that anyone could be bored in this city. Out of all the possible feelings that I’ve experienced so far, “bored” isn’t even in the neighborhood. Overwhelmed, yes. Astonished, sad, outraged, grateful, indignant, confused, disoriented, lost, impressed, also yes. But “bored?” Not yet, and probably never.
Part of the tour included a boat tour down the Buriganga River. It used to be a branch of the famous Ganges River, which also flows from India through Bangladesh on its way to the Bay of Bengal. The river is as busy as the roads in the city. Lots of people going to and fro, living their lives.