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Published: August 25th 2012
Taking People Pics
Many of the people here aren't shy about getting their picture taken, especially if you show it to them afterwards. I just have to get used to them taking pictures of me in exchange.
My first few days in Dhaka were filled with settling into my new apartment, but afterwards I did make time to go out with some of my new colleagues to explore the city. Since we arrived at the end of Ramadan we found empty streets and many closed shops. Some parts of the city are eerily abandoned. I am enjoying it immensely. Gone are the traffic jams that greeted me when I first arrived at the airport. It is a relaxed introduction to the bustling city: Dhaka Light.
For one outing we visited the boat docks where ferries unload passengers and ships unload cargo via little boats. We “rented” a couple boats and paddled around until it started to rain, then boarded empty ferryboats to wait it out. It was fun seeing the city from the water. Lots of people were dressed up in their holiday best, taking a boat ride from one part of the city to another.
Another venture took us out of town to a Hindu village where families have been making brass objects for hundreds of years. We met an artisan who showed us around the place he worked with a couple dozen artisans making
They're colorful, uncomfortable and cheap. What else could you want for getting around? I have only had a few rides so far, but they're fun on the back streets. Traffic on the main roads is scary.
brass statues and household items. Since only a couple guys had come to work over the holidays it was fairly empty and we could explore the shops in peace.
Brass objects here are made using the “lost wax” method. Artists sculpt statues with wax, and then let it harden and paint it with a fine layer of clay. When that dries a second layer of coarser and stronger clay is added, leaving small holes at the bottom for the wax to drain out. After that hardens a final layer of clay mixed with stray and jute is packed around the sculpture, making it hardly recognizable. When it is fired the wax melts and drips out the holes in the bottom, as the clay becomes solid pottery.
Turning the fired mold upside down, brass is poured in the same holes that the wax melted out. When the brass cools the pottery is smashed with a hammer then the remaining bits of clay are carefully cleaned off the object and it is polished and ready to be sold. What amazed me is not only that each mold can only be used once, but also that each piece is so unique.
Besides the famous rickshaws, Dhaka has CNGs. They are little 3-wheeled green cages that whiz around the city at breakneck speeds.
Certain statues and objects are traditional and resemble each other in their form, but the artist still has some creative liberties to make each one in his own style.
Back in the city I am working on getting used to how completely different everything is. Of course, as with moving to any new place, at first everything is new and amazing. I expect that once I get to know the city more and settle into a routine it will seem less adventurous. For now, I’m enjoying exploring Dhaka and feeling like I’m in an exotic and exciting city.
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