Bangladesh Twinkles

Maskwaith Ahsan

Maskwaith Ahsan

The writer is an Online Journalist and Offline Media Educator.

As a host every Bengali is warm and passionate, a guest is treated like an envoy from God. Even if you travel towards the heart of darkness you will be amused by the mystic side of Bengal and quite possibly as impressed as Joseph Conrad was when he asked if the flow of civilization was from Thames to Jamuna or vise versa.
 
Dhaka may appear slightly decked up, but the moment you move out of the capital you will be indulged by the beautiful minds of Bengalis while the other ethnic natives will welcome you with an extra flair of color and music. This is the way of Bangladesh, one of the host countries of World Cup Cricket 2011 ready to celebrate cricket-star-dust. You can feel the multicultural, secular heart of Bengal by randomly making friends on the streets or with rickshaw or taxi drivers. Bangladeshis are great believers of mutual respect even though we have been badly hurt by colonial elitism and had to fight back over and again to thwart intruders who almost destroyed our secular social fabric.
 
Old Dhaka will bewilder you with food entertainment, relics of classic buildings and forts, while the humor of arty craftsmen and laborers will trickle your senses. In this land Mosques, Temples, and Churches co-exist with bonds of truth, beauty and goodness. Bangladesh celebrates peaceful mysticism, we have river-lands and enough harvest to afford being philosophical. Bengali cricket tiger Sakib, too, looks at the sky when he hits a captain’s knock, as do Bengali peasants when they get bumper harvests. Those who have come across Bengali waiters or bar tenders around the globe must have surely felt their passion to make guests happy. It’s because we are taught at home to be friendly to strangers and travelers.
 
We look for occasions to celebrate, in 12 months we have 13 festivals. We gather at Eid, Puja, Christmas, water and color festivals etc, thus effectively marginalizing colonial attempts at religious divisions.
 
Dhaka is over populated, no doubt. But I hope visitors to the World Cup will not get rattled by slow traffic. The silver lining is to feel that the moment you reach the threshold of the busy capital city, your mind’s clock adjusts itself to the slow rhythm of the environs. The variety of greens, the generosity of our hills, the enchanting sounds of rivers and the feel of a timeless land all step forward to engulf you in their warmth of friendship. Bangladeshis are simple if they find simplicity in you.
 
You can travel around Chittagong, Cox’s Bazaar, Rangamati, Khagrachori and Bandarban. The Bay of Bengal kisses the harbor that holds the undiscovered suffering and beauty of Chittagong Hill Tracts in its arms. Aboriginals there lead a colorful life which is clearly absent in plain lands.
 
In Ishwardi, Pakshey and Kushtia, you can enjoy the cinematic beauty of old British towns, the generosity of Padma River, the memoirs of Nobel laureate Tagore and the shrine of mystic singer Lalon, while Rajshahi, Bogra and Rangpur are known as green cities.
 
Along this route you will also come across the heritage sites and museums which will give you an idea of ancient civilizations that existed in this Barendra Valley.
 
Khulna should be another destination where you step into the wilds of Mangrove forest Sundarban.
 
Nearby Barisal, a city of canals is popularly known as oriental Venice. After that you can push down towards another beach at Kuakata.
 
Kumilla is next to Dhaka and there the heritage site takes you into the world of another ancient civilization, and Mymen Singh towards the north is full of the allures of eco-parks, where you can confidently go for a Safari and if you are lucky you can enjoy a starry night in a green forest bungalow.
 
The echoes of another mystic singer Hason Raja can be heard in and around Sylhet, while Jaflong in the north provides a vantage point for fountains and the old mountainous city of Shilong. In fact every inch of river delta Bangladesh is worth celebrating.
 
And finally if you have visited Karl Marx’s Trier in Germany you must visit Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib’s Tungipara, the man who liberated the minds of Bengalis so that they could live without fear as envisioned by Tagore.
 
 

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The writer is an Online Journalist and Offline Media Educator.