Sunday, April 8, 2012

Bangladesh Wedding

Shane and I attended the wedding reception of the daughter of a consultant working for Shane's organisation recently and it was a really lovely event and very different to how we Aussie's celebrate weddings. It is the second wedding we've been to, this time only about 500 guests which made it a bit cosier than the first wedding, 2000 or so guests that came, sat and ate in waves. The wedding was held at the Army Golf Club in Dhaka in pretty much a standard convention centre hall with the stage all decorated with flowers, lights and a couch (there's probably a fancy name than that) for the happy couple to sit on. The event was actually the reception for a wedding which had taken place a year ago and it was not an arranged marriage. Bride and groom had too many other committments at the time of their wedding to do the reception and honeymoon thing so hence, the reception that we were invited to.

The bride arrived first and was escorted on to the stage by her father and one other man (she had mega heels on under her long dress and had to negotiate the stage stairs). The bride remained on the stage and was photographed and filmed (by professionals and family/friends) for almost the entire time it took for her husband to arrive. The groom was held up in good old Dhaka traffic and took easily two hours or more to get to the reception. Once the groom arrived, he and his entourage (amongst great fanfare and beating of drums by drummer/dancer troupe of four men) had to pay money to be allowed into the reception hall. Enough money had to be paid for a barrier (made up of a string of small shell type decorations) to be removed so that the party could walk through. There were many bundles of two taka notes handed over - all done in fun and pomp and ceremony. Finally, the bride's family who had been barring the groom's entry allowed the groom inside the reception hall and everyone cheered in good humour etc. The entourage and drummer/dancing troupe (still beating a very loud and exciting rythm on the drums) guided the groom up on to the stage where the bride had been and still was, sitting. The groom's family members trailed behind and had the chance to greet the happy couple and then a crowd of friends/family went on stage to take more photos - amongst the professionals who were also filming the happy couple.

Eventually, everyone sits down and eats apart from the bride and groom who remain on the stage. What sustains the bride, I'll never know, they can be a mere object of beauty for (from what I've been told) around 1 to 3 days. The food is traditional Bangladeshi wedding fare (apparently they don't deviate). We were served; plain tomatoe/cucumber/onion/carrot salad with chutney on the side, mutton biryani and some kind of spiced chicken (I call them spatchcocks due to their scrawny size), sweet rice for dessert and a special packet of beetle nut leaf enclosing some spices to chew afterwards - all swallowed down with a drink of lassi to aid digestion. The bride's father was a charming man and our table was full of mostly Shane's section heads from his work who came without their wives. Three of these men have 2 daughters each and all nearing marriageable age! In response to my questions, they are all putting money away for the costly weddings that they will have to provide! All three men also said that they will be arranging their daughters' weddings and that weddings like this one were rare. 

Here are some photos. The bride is breathtaking and the groom very handsome.

Setting the bride into position for the night...



Ladies patiently waiting for groom to show up

ICDDR,B guys patiently waiting for groom

Groom's here, (see fancy head gear) - mad rush by
relatives to bar his entry until the correct stipend is paid
Handsome groom making his way to the stage
to be with his bride...
The happy couple...
Time to eat
All set up for optimum bride & groom viewing


Sunday, April 1, 2012

At the Markets...

13 Jan 2012: Shane took me to the markets (New Markets) on a Friday. "Holy Day", so Shane explains to me, "not so much traffic or crowds". Personally, I thought the 'lack of crowds' would equate to Sydney or Melbourne peak hour congestion.

Shane sees a stall holder selling Calvin Klein underwear and approaches as he needs some more jocks. The Bangladeshi gentleman behind the stall immediately opens up a pack of three jocks (having sized Shane up in two seconds flat); holds up a pair of jocks with fingers crooked in either end of the waist band stretching the elastic as wide as he can and saying, "Big" with a huge grin on his face. Shane gives me a resigned look and comments how they kept doing this to him in Chang Mai and Bangkok (he's been worrying about his weight).... I shrug my shoulders, and say, "He's referring to your crotch size of course, Honey" hah hah whilst trying not to wet myself laughing!

I explain to him later that it was Karma for my shoes not fitting as I went through (yet again, what a sucker for punishment) another Cindarella ugly stepsister episode trying on shoes in about four shoe stalls, and do you think I could get any to fit? No way, not on my unladylike hoofers!  Anyhow, the markets were amazing, more stalls than you could dream up, colour, crowds, filth and pushy stall holders etc and whilst I am glad I went and saw, I don't know that I would make it a frequent event. But it is definitely a 'must do' for any newcomer.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Walking through some Dhaka suburbs

Yesterday I took Benny the Wonderdog for a stroll through three different suburbs, Gulshan2 (where our new apartment is), the back of Baridhara where Shane's first apartment was, and down the main shopping district of Bashundhara. On the weekend, Shane had driven me down a narrow back street at the back of Baridhara where small shops, street stalls, rickshaws, cars, CNGs and pedestrians all mingled together to the point of bursting. The scene really captured my imagination and I resolved to go back there.

So, on the first day of the working week (Sunday) I packed lunch for me and Benny, added two bottles of water and set off on a fabulous excursion that took us just under four hours. The locals were very curious about Benny and I was often surrounded by firstly; a bolder Bangladeshi (always the men that approach, not women), then another shyer one would approach because the first person had, and then more would come, until finally there would be half a dozen or more Bangladeshi men and children asking where I was from, where Benny was from, at one point, how much did it cost to get him over to Bandgladesh (!). Then we put on the 'Benny show' of 'sit' and 'shake' followed by pats if any of the locals were game enough. Benny handled all the attention with aplomb and having him with me meant that the focus of the men was not entirely on me, for once. It was a really enjoyable afternoon. Here is how I spent the day via photos...
The colourful washing caught me eye...
These kids were trying to get my
attention as I
walked by their apartment

Richshaws are colourful and quant but also one of the
biggest traffic problems. There are just thousands of them and the drivers are not exactly conversant of road rules (there aren't any..what am I saying?)


This little goat wanted to make friends with Benny but Benny was not sure of what it was and what to do. I had a crowd of locals surrounding us, laughing at Benny's reaction. I had a hard time holding onto Benny whilst  trying to take photos and this was the only picture that turned out.

Selling chooks (spatchock size!) and ducks

I want to buy our veges from here rather than
the 'supermarket'
See! Bata Shoe store...lots of them; really cheap
shoes and none of them fit! Dohh!

The Bangladeshis just LOVE their chicken so there are
  fast food chook shops like this one, everywhere.

There are hundreds of these tiny little 'sell everything
and anything' shops.

Cooking sweet deep fried dessert thing...I know not what yet, but it looked so nice...

Have to get a bedding maker like this one to make us a
'topping' mattress as our bed is like sleeping  on concrete. Apparently the Bangladeshi beds are all like this
and mattresses are the one thing that Expats
say to 'bring your own'

The man in the robe out the front didn't mind having
his photo taken a couple of times over
Where's the room to build furniture in this?

This is a Bangla dog (wild dogs and they all look the same and they are everywhere). There is no bite behind their bark and they put on a show of toughness...I don't think they really have the energy to fight another dog, really...

These men were expecting me to ask them to take their photo, so I kind of had to as they looked disappointed when I was about to just go past after having just taken shots of someone else across the street!

Another bedding place...
This is the mosque near Shane's old place where the first call to prayer occurs over the public address system every morning at 5am. I was going to go in and lodge a  formal noise complaint, but was too busy and had to
get going. Lucky for them... :) 
Here's a couple of apartments near our old place
that are atypical of the effort they go to in keeping the
frontages nice with gardens and a tad of grass occasionally

I then walked through the park near our old apartment which runs alongside the Gulshan Lake. Benny and I sat down and rested (we were absolutely knackered) and ate our lunch. The shade was beautiful, the scenery unreal; I really appreciated the nice shade of green of the water in particular as it matched the trees (hee hee). Here's the pathway lined with trees. Unfortunately, I was kicked out of the park by a guard who said dogs were not allowed but Shane and I are going to take him there again as we did not see any signs and remain unconvinced. 

United Hospital across the other side of the lake
( a private hospital which actually
looks very impressive all lit up at night)

Just apartments across the other side

This little bird looks like some sort of Kingfisher. It hung
around for a while. It had striking blue feathers on its back
but everytime I approached it would face me head on so I couldn't photograph the blue feathers  

Here's one of the many sewerage outlets helping to turn the
lake water such a pretty shade of green....

Another 'hole in the road' but
luckily, this one is marked with a funny looking pole (?)
 to warn drivers and pedestrians of how dangerous it is.
Couldn't resist photographing the hole's 'ínnards'...
Beeeuutiful! Bit of sewerage, bit of rubbish! Just love to accidently put my foot in that least of all if you are walking down the street at night...!

Just another example of prettying up an apartment