I went on a 4-hour bicycle trip through Rupganj, east of Khilkhet, with my biking buddies today.
Crossing Basundhara housing we took a small boat (chhip nouka) across the water to get to Khilkhet proper (this let us avoid Airport Road). The boat was small and shaky, and it took two trips for the three of us with our bicycles.
We biked past at least half a dozen new "cities" being developed (Jamuna City plus others.) There was major land reclamation going on, with sand - dredged from under the Padma and brought here in large boats - being pumped from those boats via fat pipes into the desired locations. This sand is used to raise the level of the land; if you look at Dhaka using Google Earth you can see the bright white sand patches in the northeast part of town.
On these bicycling trips, since I wear a helmet and western garb, and am out with the "foreigners", most people don't think I am Bangladeshi - until I wish them a Salam or ask "Kemon Achhen?" at which point they turn to their neighbor with a surprised expression, saying "oiTato Bangla, dekhsen?" (apparently "Bangla" has become short for "Bangladeshi.")
I bantered with many people in this way. Then it was my turn to be surprised. We were coming down from a bridge heading towards a bunch of kids who were watching us. I guess they were arguing whether I was a Bangladeshi, because as I passed by one of them yelled at me in Bangla, "tire-er pump gesey ga" (your tires are deflating) and I immediately looked at my tires. This of course resolved their argument; they laughed and clapped and one of them said to the others: "Koisilam na oiTa Bangla!" ("Didn't I tell you he is a Bangladeshi?")
We stopped for a tea break at a village called Moshur. Acting as interpreter for my friends' questions, I asked the villagers if the lack of rain had affected their crops. No they said, because they plant a variation of IRRI rice that is planted in Kartik (September) so the rains are not critical for it. In fact, their sugar cane harvest was good this year because of low rains. The rice, once ready, will sell for Tk10/kg (unhusked). Per acre they expect about 95 Maunds of unhusked rice (1 Maund =40kg).
What else do they grow? "We have fisheries over there where we grow Shorputi, Rui, Carp and Tilapia." And no Pangas, I asked. "Nope, Pangas is cheap and yields no profit."
In another village a babytaxi with mike went around announcing "Great news, great news, on Saturday from 10am-3pm, mothers will get free health checkups for their children at such and such place."
Shaplas have started to bloom. They come in many shades including white...
A good season for fishing, either with a borshi (fishing pole)...
...or with nets:
Dugout boat made from tree-trunk:
Two friends who were walking down the street near Moshuri:
Photography studio at Moshuri:
The mom wasn't sure about being photographed but the child did not mind:
Many thanks to Stefan and Peter for giving me company on this trip.