Sunday, February 04, 2007

Brahmins and Naval Architects (Photos)

Last Friday we went for a 50-km bicycle ride out of Dhaka. It was a very foggy day:

We biked east and then south of Dhaka, the last 5 km along the banks of the Sheetalakhya. This was my first time on that road. We spotted a shipbuilding yard on the bank and stopped to take a look. Workers were building a large, 200+ feet long ship.

This gentleman is the owner of the operation. He said the metal comes from Chittagong, and is built into the ship which is sent back to Chittagong by river. Then it is used to move materiel between Chittagong and Dhaka. Takes about 8-9 months to make such a large ship. All the work is done on the premises.

These two workers were painting the hull. They used a rag instead of paintbrushes to reach all the nooks and crannies (to seal them from rusting?)

I asked them about Keraniganj, where I had seen large boat building facilities. They said it had shifted here due to people moving into Keraniganj area (gentrification.)

I hope to be back when they lower the boat onto the river. That should be quite a sight.

On our way back, Peter spotted some color at a distance from the road and we stopped to investigate. We walked to a field behind a village. It turned out a Hindu Puja - and an accompanying Mela - was in progress. It was called Purnima Puja or Dhamai(?) Puja. This priest was leading the prayers.

The air was festive, with music and drums.

The people praying were mostly women.

The mela offered toys for the kids.

This gentleman asked me to take his picture with his granddaughter. I said I thought it was her daughter - he looked so young. He gave a hearty laugh.

This girl had got her own balloon and was playing on the side by herself.

At night, it was full-moon, so indeed it was a Purnima. All in all, great day of exploring. Many thanks to my bicycling companions Peter and Mehreen.

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