Saturday, July 28, 2007

Walk Along the Lake

I sometimes walk on the path along Baridhara-Gulshan Lake, like I did two days ago. Although thick clouds threatened rain, a cool breeze helped.

We Bangladeshis take walking seriously. Take, for example, the two ladies I almost ran into when I stepped on the path. Clad in black Burkha, with an extra white scarf providing additional protection for the head, and wearing matching black tennis shoes, they marched furiously, as if shaking off any precursor of aging in their bones.

I scratched my head: don't they get hot inside those layers of black? Doesn't the Burkha get in the way? Evidently not.

There were several adults with children. Three moms were taking their 2-3 year-old boys for a walk. One could barely walk, and as he approached me from the other side, he decided enough walking, why not run now? After two quick steps, losing his balance, he suddenly fell on his bottom. He happily sat there watching the world go by until Mommy picked him up.

A gaggle of relatives - mom, dad, aunts, uncles, cousins - accompanied another 4-year
old boy. He decided he was thirsty, and continuously screamed "pani khabo" until the time I left the park. Who knows, the other walkers might have decided to give him a big gulp of lake water!

Then there were the single men, both Bangladeshi and furriners. A Korean man was running, while rolling a white towel around his clenched fists. He seemed vaguely threatening - ready to punch at anything that got in his way. I quickly stepped aside. A man wearing a navy track suit was walking earnestly. I could smell him coming from several yards because he had doused himself in cologne. A thoughtful fellow in wispy beard, in a beige Kurta, materialized out of nowhere. Although he walked, you could tell he would rather be pursuing the intellect.

The lakeside has some privacy for courting couples. A couple argued tensely standing next to the lake. The man punched numbers his cellphone and asked her to speak on the phone. Looking frail and cross, she hesitantly took the phone from him. Her expression softened and brightened into a smile. Maybe an alibi? I walked on, but on my way back, I noticed they had sat down on the bank and were munching on peanuts.

The lake is significantly cleaner than it was two years ago, thanks to a cleanup project. However, many broken styrofoam pieces floated. I have noticed styrofoam elsewhere, and wonder if that is going to become the next scourge of our environment, much like plastic bags were some years ago?

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