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Published: February 24th 2018
Woolly says – Our second day in Dhaka didn’t start according to plan, Zoe had gone to bed the previous evening with a case of the trots by morning it had turned into the gallops. Having googled the symptoms and discarded Beri Beri, dengue fever and ingrowing toe nails I was left with Montezuma's revenge or Delhi belly, as we hadn’t been to Delhi and it had started in Kolkata it only left the revenge option. The revenge was awful and far worse than any horror film I’ve ever watched, Zoe must have really upset Montezuma to make her this bad! There didn’t seem much that Jo or I could do except offer sympathy and water after she had been dosed up with all the relevant medication that we carry around with us. With nothing to do we watched Zoe sleep and set to with the maps and continuing travel plans with the hope that the invalid would be back to normal…… ish…. In the morning.
The morning arrived, and things seemed a little better, it took a while for Zoe to get up and showered but we decided that we would head out and see
what we could achieve on what was now our last day in Dhaka and Bangladesh. Woolly says – A quick debate on our method of transport took place and we opted for the auto rickshaw, these are a trifle different to India and Sri Lanka and rather than the open ones we have got used to, we climbed into a cage in the rear of the machine before setting off. The traffic was ridiculous with barely an inch between vehicle and cycle rickshaws, by the time we arrived at our first stop we all felt a bit green with all the swerving and bumps we had gone through. Zoe didn’t look great and once Jo had acquired our tickets we found some shade in the grounds and sat for a while, I thought it was a good moment to tell them all about the Pink Palace. Ahsan Manzil was the official residential palace and seat of the Nawab of Dhaka, construction was started in 1859 and completed in 1872. On the evening of 7th April 1888, a devastating tornado hit Dhaka city causing carnage and the palace was severely damaged and had to be rebuilt which included
adding the dome that was a pink as everything else. After the death of one of the Nawabs in 1901, the glory of Ahsan Manjil was ended. His successors couldn’t continue because of the internal family quarrel so they rented different parts of the palace to tenants, who made it into a slum. In 1985 the Dhaka National Museum acquired the property and made it a museum following a massive restoration project which included turning it pink! My mini history lesson seemed to have helped the invalid and with cautious steps we started to look round.
Sadly, we couldn’t take pictures inside although we were allowed our bags which seemed strange as the Bangladeshi people had to had there’s over! Woolly says – We entered through a small door which led us into several galleries of portraits of people, every wall had the canvases on and with no clue as to who they were we wandered past, next came a couple of display cases with some ‘ceramic bowls’ and ‘metal teapots’ which were labeled exactly as that, not the most informative information we felt. As we followed the arrows we came into
a glassed off room which declared itself to be the Nawabs bedroom, I blinked several times at the plastic coated MDF furniture being turning my bemused frown in Jo’s direction, she was busy reading the sign which told us it was a reconstruction from 1904 which would explain the plastic part. The next room was a reconstruction of the dining room and the one after a billiards room, it looked strange and unreal and I really hoped that the royalty had had better furnishings than we were seeing. Four more galleries of portraits led us to a rather charming sweeping staircase that was roped off, above the main door we spied some stained glass, but it was so dark it was hard to tell what colour it was.
It defiantly wasn’t a grand palace more a neglected country manor with a huge dollop of poor taste for the furniture, we mounted some stairs and found ourselves in another portrait gallery. Woolly says – By now Zoe was flagging and needed to sit down in every room, our walking got slower and slower which meant I had ample time to study each and
every unknown face on the wall, although by now it had become clear that the same artist had painted every single one. As we entered what had once been the ballroom for the first time we found antique settee’s and tables and a lovely white and black ceiling which looked somewhat like the one in Brighton Pavilion, one more portrait collection and we had finished. We made a very slow descent and as Jo left me in charge of the poorly one and went to get some drinks I was really starting to wonder if she would make it to the fort let alone the two museums on our list!
We sipped our fresh orange juice and encouraged our girl to nimble on a plain biscuit, but things weren’t looking good, instead of reviving her she seemed to be getting worse and regardless of our disappointment we needed to get back to the room. Woolly says – We led her through the grounds and into the street, lots of people around but not a taxi or any form of rickshaw in sight, taking a side each, we helped her to the end
of the road with the hope that some form of transport might be available there, there wasn’t.
A man approached and asked if we needed help, having tried to explain that we needed a rickshaw he set about flagging one down for us, the first one refused to stop, and he used a hand gesture that is well known in the UK! Woolly says – By now we had a crowd of a hundred around us and Jo, myself and another man started to make shooing motions with our hands as they gawked at us, as fast as we cleared twenty away even more arrived to see what was going on. By now Jo was hugging Zoe who was devastated at the amount of attention she was attracting, our original helper had finally flagged down a driver and as we climbed into the cage hundreds of faces peered in at us, it really gave me a good idea of how animals in a zoo must feel! Our vehicle fled through the streets and at last we were able to help Zoe into bed and allow her to sleep, I just hope she’s
up to carrying her backpack in the morning as I’m not sure I can manage hers and mine at the same time!
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