Independence Day

March 26th is very important day for Bangladesh.
It is Independence Day.
This is the day independence war from Pakistan started.
On the day, many cultural events or concerts take place.
More than 250,000 people gathered to sing national song "Amar Shonar Bangla" at Parade Square in Dhaka this year.
How many are 250,000 people like.....?
I have no idea.

Bangladesh Tourism Corporation arranged cars to Savar where National Monument is.
Savar is located 35km north from Dhaka, and people visit there to offer flowers.

Of course, I joined the tour.
A colleague told me to come to the office at 7am.
It's quite early morning!

However, as I asked some more people......figured out cars were supposed to leave office between 7-7:30am.
Then, I would be there at 7:30 since they won't be able to leave at 7.
I left home 6:50, and called my colleague on the way.
He told a car would pass near my house, so they could pick me up there.
So...I had waited for nearly 1 hour.
The car picked me up, went to office, stayed for 10 minutes, and started for Savar......passing the road in front of my house.

Anyway, after 1 hour drive we were in Savar.
Opposite of the National Monument, there is a restaurant Tourism Corporation operates.
A colleague told me that we had breakfast at first.
So......waited for breakfast for 1 hour.
We had Porota and vegetable curry, and finally started to the monument.

You will find many people wearing red and green colors of cloth.
Yes, they are the colors for Bangladeshi flag.
My colleague, too.
Not clear in this picture, but her eye shadow is also green & red!!

Another colleague.
See their passion for this day??
So, we marched with singing national song.
At the entrance, people were waiting to paint flag on our hands, face.....so enjoy the paint/be careful not to be painted.
Took some photos.
There is the place to give flower in front of the monument.

Mission completed.
It took only 5 minutes.......so quick(especially thinking the long way before)!

However, I am always impressed by this culture that people spend time for commemorate history, visit monument , sing national song......e.t.c.
I didn't really care meaning of holidays in Japan. Only cared because it was days off from work.
Living in Bangladesh, I had many chances to be asked if I know Bangladeshi history of independence, meaning of holidays.
So now I can answer some.
One another impressive thing is almost everyone can answer these kind of questions.
Even though literacy late isn't very high, not everyone goes to school, Bangladeshi people know their history.

So, back to the day.
Having breakfast at 11am and offering flower to the monument for 5 minutes, what we did next was.....waiting for lunch
So much waiting for the day.

Killing time, we visited "Pottery and Hadicraft Market" located next to the restaurant.
Cups, pen stands, e.t.c.
I didn't buy, but they actually looked very good.
Picture is again not clear......but can you see the clock whose shape is Bangladesh?
Don't you get one for your living room?
Waiting for 2 hours, we had lunch and head back to Dhaka.
I was tired though I didn't really do anything.
However, it was precious experience to have time together with my co-workers on this important day.
Thank you! 


Old Dhaka City(3)

Old Dhaka tour produced by my counterpart Bappi, part 3.
We saw actually for meeting, but let me introduce a restaurant he took us.

I wouldn't have noticed unless anyone took me.
The restaurant "nana" famous for Irani Dom Biriyani is the second floor of a building.

As you pass entrance, you will find counter and playgound for kids.
We ordered THE "Irani Dom Biriyani"!!
It is the Recipe from Iran, and was brought by Ahsan Ullah(Asan Manzil, a famous palace in Old Dhaka was named after him).
The recipe is originally from Iran, but prepared by Bangladeshi style.
So, this is found nowhere except this restaurant.

The biriyani is served by clay pot, which represents original style.
(but aluminum foil, a new style prevents you from seeing the pot.....)

In Bangladesh, food is usually not really "hot" (if it is, eating with hand is difficult.)
But it served hot(so that better to eat with spoon)!

Rice was soft and rich flavor, onion fry on the top was crispy. 
"Gee"(Fat from milk) is used for Biriyani, so this dish is basically oily.
However, I didn't really feel it was so oily.(of course it is, but not extremely!)

Biriyani is often served with "Boorhani".
The green drink you can see in the picture.
It tastes......sweet, spicy, sour at the same time.
In the drink, yogurt, mints, green chilly, coriander, pepper, sugar, salt e.t.c....
The taste is too complicated to explain.
To be honest, I didn't really like it.....but Bappi finished 3 glasses.

I am not sure if you understand from the pictures......but the rice is huge amount.
I am sure I ate 3 times as much as usual.

Then, one of business partners asked if we ordered chicken.
I doubted my ear.
Did you now say chicken after Biriyani.......?
Not dessert?

After finishing Biriyani, chicken roast was in front of me.
"No way....."
Bappi simply told me,
So I did.
It was a bit too salty, but taste was good.

Address:3, Wise Ghat, Islampur, Dhaka

Then, we left the restaurant......and moved to another store for dessert.

The store is famous for "Faluda".
Faluda is Bangladeshi style parfait.
This store has run about 200 years!
Entrance is small, but deep to the back.
This is Faluda!!
No, it is "Special faluda".
There are vermicelli, fruits, ice cream e.t.c......and eat with mixing ice.
It is not that sweet, actually good.
I would have enjoyed more if I had a little bit more space in my stomach.....
Outside of the store, a staff was crashing ice. 
This is special lassi.
After finishing meeting, I met up with a friend.

He took me to the same store(this store is famous!!), and then we had Lassi.
By the evening, I could make some space for Lassi.
Lassi is my favorite drink. Yes, it tasted good.

<Beauty Lasshi Faluda>
Address:30/A johnson road, raishaheb bazaar, Dhaka -1100Menu:
Faluda  normal:60tk/special:80tk
Lassi    normal:25tk/special:35tk
Lebu shorbot(squash):15tk

At the day, I skipped dinner...of course.
I sit up until midnight, but still wasn't hungry.
I was about to die of too much eating, but somehow my body managed to digest.

There are many old famous restaurants in Old Dhaka.
Local people know well, and definitely it's Bappi's "garden".
I will update information if I get any.
(but have to be careful not to die of eating.......)


Sri Mangal (4)

I have mainly introduced wedding ceremony, but let me tell a bit about Sri Mangal. 
1. Lowacherra National Park
In the morning, we have visited Lowacherra National Park.
This is preserved rain forest where many kinds of wild animals like Hoolock Gibbon live.
This is 7km away from Sri Mangal station, so you have to take CNG.
Air was fresh.....walking through the forest in the morning was special.
You will find small souvenir shop and tea shop which serves 7 layers tea.
My co-worker bought hats for all of us....how do you think?
Looks a bit strange with that cloth??
What I liked the most is railway in the forest.
If you visit there, please wait for a while beside the railway.
With whistle, train passes through forest.
I wanted to stay more to wait next train to come.
However, we didn't have much time, and my ticket was for 30 minutes.
There is some kinds of tickets depending on time.

Lowacherra National Park
30minutes   200tk($5 for foreigner) 
1 hour         300tk($7 for foreigner)
3 hours       500tk($10 for foreigner) 

30 minutes passed in a second.
(Is this expression correct? 30 minutes in a second sounds funny, but you know what I meant.)
Taking enough time and hiking is one option for you.
A little more information of local product.
What is famous in Sri Mangal?
Besides tea, pineapple is also well-known.
Small small pineapple.
Even this one is kind of big.
(because I picked up quite a big one...)

20tk pineapple

The season is coming.
This kind of pineapple has sweet intense taste, and was really good.

It was so good that I looked for pineapple the day after in Dhaka.
I am not sure if it was different kind, but small pineapple cost 60tk for piece in Dhaka!(but still about ¢50...)

Please try pineapple in Sri Mangal as well as tea.


Sri Mangal (3)

The day of Wedding ceremony.
At the day, groom goes to bride's home and takes her to his village.
Wedding ceremony is organized at bride's home.
Groom is supposed to leave his home at 11 a.m, arrive at bride's home at 1:30 p.m.
We visited groom's home before 11 a.m.....but they didn't seem ready to go.
Do you know why?
Of course, this is Bangladesh.
While we were waiting, we watched magic.
He is a member of professional music group, but also good at magic and talking.
See the boy's eyes??

He made small plum(which is now season in Bangladesh) appear on his hand, and gave it me.
He said to eat it, so I did.
Then, he took it out from my belly :)
(I mean, he snapped his fingers near my belly.....and a plum was on his hand)
Half pass 11, a ritual started.
Groom and his brother sat on the mat.
People came and dropped money, touched groom's head.
Groom bowed and touched his/her foot.
Touching foot shows respect to the person, and only elder people than groom do this ritual.

After this, groom stepped out from the mat(it seems there is certain step he has to take) and went out from home.
Car decorated with flower was waiting for him.
He rode the car to bride's village.

More than 10 cars were waiting for all the guests.
Cars made line to village.

However.....it was already 12:30 when we left.
He was supposed to leave home at 11:00 a.m and arrive at 1:30 p.m.
But.......troubles continued.
Groom's  car ran out of gas, had some engine problem on the way.....
it was already 3:30 when we arrived.

But then, bride's family was waiting for the groom's arrival with flower.
They made line for welcoming them.
It was lovely.

Groom came in, and music follows.
Before ceremony started, lunch(at 4 p.m.....wasn't it dinner?) was served.

Of course, curry.
Seafood is mainly served.
"Rich food" like meat and fish is served mainly like this event.

Event was supposed to start from the evening, and supposed to continue until midnight.
However........I am sorry, I came back before it started.

Why did I do 3 hours journey to bride's village?
But excuse me, my cold got worse and we had to take night bus leaving from Sri Mangal at 8 p.m.
So instead of the story, I will tell you an interesting custom for wedding.

Groom visits bride's home to bring her with him.
The most emotional moment for bride's family is when he took her to his village.
(people especially bride's parents cry.)
Then, young kids from bride side hide groom's shoes.
Yes, they try to disturb groom to take her!
If they succeeded, they will say something like...
"If you want shoes back, give me 5,000tk!!"
Then, bargaining will start.
It is for fun.

What is more interesting is that groom's family tries to prevent his shoes from being stolen!
It is a fight between both parties.
I wanted to see the it.

I didn't see whole process of wedding, but it was still very interesting.
Wedding ceremony is one of the events culture is presented.
Thank you for all giving me this precious chance.

Children in the village

Scenery on the way back from Bride's home
Finishing story of wedding, I will introduce some more information about Sri Mangal next.


Sri Mangal (2)

After filling our stomach full, we headed to a house of Monipuri tribe, Mr. Anand.
We had lunch there(I thought I could die because of too much eating), and talked about tourism he has been working for.
He and my co-worker have worked together to develop tourism regarding Monipuri culture since 1994.
He told there were foreign tourists, but it is problem they don't have any information online.
I inquired information for this blog.
Even though there is potential, tourists won't find if there is no information online.

Main event for the day is ceremony called "Gaye Holud".
It takes place the day before wedding ceremony.
In both bride and groom house, family and relatives put turmeric on bride/groom's skin.
Turmeric is said good for skin......so make skin beautiful before wedding ceremony.
It's the concept.

The ceremony started at 7 p.m.
We took a rest, and had "snacks" before going to the venue.
Snacks......means fried noodle and soup.

My co-worker said
"Fill your stomach, and you don't have to worry when next meal will be served."
But I was worried,
"When I will have to eat again......"
After eating whole day.

Anyway, with full stomach we went to the venue.
As program started, music was played and people were coming.
Children brought cake and set it on the table.

Then, groom came in.
A man made announcement to start the program.
His parents went to the stage, and put termeric on his skin.
Then, groom give a piece of cake to his parents, and so did their parents.

One ofter another, family and relatives went to stage and did the same.
Mr. Anand offered me to go to the stage, too.

Even not every participant went.
It seemed only close relatives did.

However....I took this precious chance he gave.
Went up to the stage with my co-worker and his daughter, gave him a big piece of cake, put turmeric on his hand.

And, a picture.

I tried to get down from the stage quickly, but was stopped.
"His father wants a foreigner coming all the way from Dhaka to give a speech"

What do I say????

But somehow......I did.
After finishing turmeric session, music and song were played.They were really professional, and music was so great!
Then, cousin of groom sang.
 and danced....
Dance and music was still going on, but we left around 11 p.m.
Of course, we had Dinner(!!) before we left.

At last, I will give information for guest house we stayed.
The name is "Holiday Guest House".
(what a pupular name for guest house!!)
Dining room.

Room is......normal, I didn't have any problem.
We are supposed to have hot water....but unfortunately, it was broken.
So unfortunate!!

As I took cold shower.....
I started sneezing, had headache at night, had sore throat next day.....
Wow......have I been that weak?
But be careful, Sri Mangal is colder than Dhaka.
Especially in the morning and at night!

<Holiday Guest House>
Addess:Sri Mangal Rd. Bhahugach, Komlogonji, Moulobhi bazaar


Sri Mangal (1)

I have wanted to visit Sri Mangal and finally got chance.
My co-worker invited me for a wedding ceremony of Monipuri tribe in Sri Mangal.

They have their own culture and a man whose son was going to get married is a community leader of Monipuri tribe.
He and my co-worker has worked for tourism development together for 20 years.
Co-worker told me to bring camera, and so.....I went!

We started by train in the morning.
My co-worker, his daughter, and me.
I took train before, but it was at night....so it is actually first time to enjoy scenery from the window.
It is also the first time to travel with Bengali people.

As I am getting out of Dhaka, the scene gets "Greener".
Field was beautiful.
Men working in field, Women washing clothes in the pond, children running, cows and goat walking on the streets......
Life of people was seen from the window.
It was beautiful.

When train stopped at the station, people are coming to sell snacks.
Orange, banana, cucumber.....
You can expect I had to keep eating, traveling with Bengali people!
At first, orange.
Then, chips.(surprisingly, a pack per person. Surprisingly, I finished)

Then, tea.
It would have been OK if tea was the last.
You know what came next??
Chicken cutlet & Chicken fry & bread with butter!
It was nearly 12:00, so I wanted to believe it was lunch....(and of course not)

Anyway we kept eating on the train....and arrived earlier than we expected.
Next thing we did is looking for 7 layer tea which is famous in Sri Mangal.
There are some places where 7 layer tea is served, and this restaurant is one of them.
Wait for a while......and here!
70tk for a glass
Even though you shake the glass, layer remains.
It wasn't sweet in the beginning, but the bottom part(maybe ginger) was very sweet.
You have to try it if you ever go to Sri Mangal!

SathRong Restaurant
Address:Ragib Super Market Radhanagar Bhanugach Road, Sreemangal
   (in front of Grand Sultan Tea Resort & Gold)
Mobile : 01738-980567
e-mail : sathrong_res@yahoo.com

For some reasons......we had tea with french fries.
My trip(to keep eating?) continues....