Archive for the ‘bangladesh’ Category

Victory Day parade

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

In honor of Victory Day, the students of AUW held a parade in the neighborhood around campus. Armed with signs, banners, and a great deal of red and green clothes and face paint, they marched out the driveway onto M.M. Ali Road and then made their away around the entire extended block (actually a triangle), singing and chanting the entire way. Unsurprisingly, the large group of vibrant vocal young women garnered a great deal of interest from the local residents, most of which stopped whatever they were doing as the procession passed, and some of which even got up and started to follow along the sides (taking as many camera phone pictures and videos as they possibly could along the way).

Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)

Photo taken in Chittagong, Bangladesh on December 16, 2009.

After the students (and several participating staff and teachers) returned to campus, they continued to celebrate in the AUW driveway for quite a while. They sang songs, recited poetry, and took many pictures to remember the joyous event. The excess of color, noise, and positive energy flowing out of the huge group was a great symbol of the massive potential contained in such a passionate female student body that the university is working to help develop and enable to flourish. I promise I am not getting paid to write that questionably run-on sentence! It is just undeniably inspiring to see the power of AUW students in motion, especially in mass.

Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)

Photos taken in Chittagong, Bangladesh on December 16, 2009.

The type of things I like to look at

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

December 16 was Victory Day in Bangladesh, which is a pretty huge deal. It celebrates the same day in 1971 on which the Pakistani army surrendered, finally granting Bangladesh their hard fought independence. AUW students put on a huge parade around our neighborhood, but I’m leaving photos of that to another post. After the parade, I spent some time with my camera meandering around the neighborhood. I didn’t think it possible, but I was actually even more popular with Bangladeshis that day than usual, due no doubt to my Bengali face paint that one of the students had been nice enough to do for me in the morning.

Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)

Photo taken in Chittagong, Bangladesh on December 16, 2009.

There wasn’t anything especially spectacular going on outside, but (as is always the case in Bangladesh) there was plenty to see, begging to be made into images. I suppose the title of this post could serve as a (rather lame) subtitle for my entire blog… I’ve just noticed that while I was in South Asia, I predominantly took a large number of just a few types of photos, and I think the sampling in this post is a rather representative slice. I like Bangladeshi men who quietly revel in giving the camera solid inexpressive faces, and I like kids who ask for pictures and then carry on the tradition by imitating those men. I like people at work. I like dogs, and shadows, and I love splashes of bright color.

Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 16, 2009)

Photos taken in Chittagong, Bangladesh on December 16, 2009.

Children of Chittagong, and more

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

Near the beginning of December, right after the big four day AUW special visitor event that I photographed (which I think for now I’ll just let slip into general unmentioned obscurity), I had the opportunity to once again go out into Chittagong with Mow (the student who took me to some of the slums and other interesting locations around the city). She had the goal of talking to some child laborers, and also revisiting the refugee camp that we had been to once before. We did both, and combined with a short walk I took afterwards around my immediate neighborhood, it all made for an interesting and colorful day. I think I’ll leave it at that for now and let my images do most of the talking.

Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Dec 6, 2009)

Photos taken in Chittagong, Bangladesh on December 6, 2009.

A day on the beach

Saturday, April 10th, 2010

I think for now, I’m just going to gloss over the fact that I’m actually currently back in New York City, and that it’s been months since I’ve touched this blog or even really thought (or wanted to think) about photography. While Catie and I decide this week whether we’re planning to go back to Bangladesh for another year, I’m going to try to reconnect with some of the lost days and images about which I never posted.

Last November, I ventured out one weekend with Catie and Denise to Patenga Beach just outside Chittagong. It was a colorful place with more tacky “beach souvenir” shops (for lack of a better descriptor) than you could shake a stick at. There was also no shortage of men offering boat rides to Cox’s Bazar, ponies (and four wheelers) available for rides along the water’s edge, and various ice cream, cotton candy, and rainbow whirlygig vendors. I don’t know if I’d call the visit exactly relaxing, and I wouldn’t really ever consider swimming in the ocean there, but it was nice to get a change of scene from the city and enjoy the sea breeze.

Patenga Beach, Bangladesh (Nov 30, 2009)

Photo taken at Patenga Beach, Bangladesh on November 30, 2009.

The highlight of the beach for me was definitely the loud mysterious cylindrical wooden structure topped with colored parachute tent ceiling, but I’ll leave that particular reveal up to the sequence of photos.

Patenga Beach, Bangladesh (Nov 30, 2009)
Patenga Beach, Bangladesh (Nov 30, 2009)
Patenga Beach, Bangladesh (Nov 30, 2009)
Patenga Beach, Bangladesh (Nov 30, 2009)
Patenga Beach, Bangladesh (Nov 30, 2009)
Patenga Beach, Bangladesh (Nov 30, 2009)
Patenga Beach, Bangladesh (Nov 30, 2009)
Patenga Beach, Bangladesh (Nov 30, 2009)
Patenga Beach, Bangladesh (Nov 30, 2009)
Patenga Beach, Bangladesh (Nov 30, 2009)
Patenga Beach, Bangladesh (Nov 30, 2009)
Patenga Beach, Bangladesh (Nov 30, 2009)
Patenga Beach, Bangladesh (Nov 30, 2009)
Patenga Beach, Bangladesh (Nov 30, 2009)
Patenga Beach, Bangladesh (Nov 30, 2009)
Patenga Beach, Bangladesh (Nov 30, 2009)
Patenga Beach, Bangladesh (Nov 30, 2009)
Patenga Beach, Bangladesh (Nov 30, 2009)
Patenga Beach, Bangladesh (Nov 30, 2009)
Patenga Beach, Bangladesh (Nov 30, 2009)
Patenga Beach, Bangladesh (Nov 30, 2009)
Patenga Beach, Bangladesh (Nov 30, 2009)

Photos taken at Patenga Beach, Bangladesh on November 30, 2009.

Sacrifice

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Before I write or show anything more from Eid al-Adha, otherwise known as the “Festival of Sacrifice”, I want to give a strong (fair third) warning that this post will most certainly contain a good deal of violent imagery that I could easily imagine disturbing some people. If you’d like a lighter version of the holiday, you can check out either of the two previous posts about our early morning exploration of the neighborhood and the adorned animals when they were still alive.

I think I should start with a simple account of how things unfolded as the morning progressed. Around 9:00 AM there started to be a lot of activity around the local mosque as men rushed to attend a special prayer. Once that ended it seemed that the sacrifices could begin. Denise, Catie, and I were on the outskirts of the neighborhood at that point and as we turned onto a shady road we could see a hundred feet away or so a group of men tying up a cow and laying it down on its side. We were going to stay there and watch but I asked if we could move because the light wasn’t very good on that street.

So we walked back to one of the main roads where we had seen a lot of animals earlier that morning, and, simply enough, those animals were indeed steadily falling victim to their day’s fate. We walked down the street to watch the closest one which had actually just begun. The men there were tying and bringing down a cow just as we had seen from afar a few minutes earlier. The process was a lot more dramatic up close, as they’d basically bind the cow’s legs while it was standing upright and then tip the cow over onto its side. The thud of giant cow on concrete was loud and already a bit unsettling, but we didn’t have much time to think about that as a minute later the men were holding the cow steady and exposing its neck as another man in special dress approached with a very long sword.

The weight and intensity of the moment that followed deserves a poem, or probably several poems, and to give anything less certainly feels cheap. But I am not a talented (or at least not dedicated) enough writer to do such things right, so I’m left with simple recount. Said plainly, the man bent over the cow, lowered the long sword and cut right into the animal’s neck, and immediately a great deal of blood began to rush out. (The jugular is cut in this process, and as a result the animal is supposed to lose consciousness almost immediately and feel very little pain as it dies.)

You may wonder how close we actually were while this was happening, and I can’t think of a better way to answer that question than to say that at one point when blood spurted out across the concrete towards us (a little too near our feet for comfort), we jumped back in alarm, only to quickly spin around and realize that we had almost backed into a pool of blood that was rapidly forming from another sacrifice that had begun on the other side of the street. I think it was around that point when Denise and Catie started to feel claustrophobic and the need to retreat. They went farther back towards the entrance to the street where they could keep as much distance between themselves and the closest sacrifice as they liked. I was rather overwhelmed myself but I at least had the shielding filter of my camera (which was particularly effective as I had set it to display images on the LCD screen in black and white).

Denise and Catie ended up heading back to the apartment soon after, and I spent the rest of the morning (another couple hours) wandering the streets on my own, watching the various stages of killing and skinning the animals and then separating the meat from the carcass. All the men I met were quite pleased to see me and talk a while, and they seemed happy that I had an interest in the holiday and that I wasn’t just horrified by the sacrifice. Nobody had any problem at all with my taking photographs; on the contrary they would encourage me to photograph their cow as it was worked on. (It was a rather affluent neighborhood, and it appeared that most of the men involved in the actual slaughter and butchery of the animals were hired hands for the day, although some resident younger men and even boys helped in the process here and there.) I had a good time talking with everyone and got pretty well acquainted with a few people. One man whose house I spent a particularly long time outside of invited me to come back that night for the feast with his entire extended family. We exchanged numbers and I told him I’d ask “my wife” and try to make it back, but unfortunately the feast was both at 2AM and also naturally to consist of beef from the day’s sacrifice. Catie and I weren’t really feeling up to face either of these factors after the emotionally tiring day, so we declined as graciously as possible. I was touched by the invitation, and it was just another of the countless examples of how nice Bengali people truly are.

The day was trying at times, but I’m glad I went out and experienced the holiday full on, and to be honest it was one of my favorite days in Bangladesh – photographically but also just generally as I had a lot of opportunities to talk with people and have a meaningful exchange, learning a bit about them as well as their culture. (On the note of culture, if you’d like a more sociological perspective on the holiday I strongly urge you to read Catie’s post about the day.)

I wondered at times throughout the morning whether there was something wrong with me that I wasn’t more troubled by what I was witnessing (and photographing with a telephoto lens). I’m not sure why it didn’t get to me really. Maybe it was the distance provided by my camera, or the overpowering fascination by something so drastically foreign to my normal life, or the positive social experience with friendly local people. Or maybe I am just a bit disturbed to start off with. (Oh well.) In any case, I am only somewhat ashamed to say that I am still planning on going to Five Napkin Burger one of my first days back in NYC.

Some of the following images could easily be described as difficult, and I won’t be offended if you have to refrain from viewing them. I will say though that I tried to shoot and select photos that were actually beautiful or interesting, and not ones that were simply the most gratuitous or shocking. I hope at least that (some) people will find (some) value in the images I’ve chosen to show here, whether visual or cultural.

Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)

Photos taken in Chittagong, Bangladesh on November 28, 2009.