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Glimpses of Bangladesh: A Photoseries

Written by Safa Michigan

Graphic by Claire Keegan



Bangladesh is my motherland, a gem on the Indian subcontinent, lush and green and flowing with rivers. It is one of the most densely populated countries in the world and has a vibrant culture, a history both tragic and triumphant, and a beautiful spirit. Here is an English translation of an excerpt from the national anthem:


My golden Bengal, I love you.

Forever thy skies, thy air set my heart in tune as if it were a flute,

O mother! The aroma of the mango orchard in Falgun drives me crazy,

Ah, what a thrill!

O mother! In Ogrohayon time sees sweet smiles all through mature fields of paddy.

What beauty, what shades, what affection, what tenderness!

What a quilt have thee spread at the feet of banyan trees and along the bank of every river,

Oh mother mine, words from thy lips are like nectar to my ears.

Ah, what a thrill!

If sadness, O mother! casts a gloom on your face, my eyes are filled with tears!


These words truly encapsulate what this country means to its people. In my life I have been fortunate enough to visit my family in Bangladesh every few years or so, but there is always that ache, a constant state of missing a land you’re tied to but haven’t fully known. Last January I traveled to Bangladesh and revisited places I knew, but I also saw parts of the country that I hadn’t seen before. Here are some glimpses of Bangladesh through my eyes. I hope you’ll find it as beautiful as I do.

DHAKA

1 - A view of the lake and greenery behind my maternal family home in the capital city of Dhaka. The home is multigenerational, as is common throughout Asia, and full of love. My grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins all live on different stories of the building. My mom has her own apartment waiting for her if she ever decides to move home.
2 - A neighboring building shrouded in greenery.
3 - My grandmother’s prized rooftop garden.
4 - Customarily, clothes are hand-washed, then hung up to dry in the sun on the roof.
5 - A favorite snapshot of mine showing the brightly colored clothes with hand-potted plants.

COX’S BAZAR – CHITTAGONG

Cox’s Bazar is a city in Bangladesh’s Chittagong district. It is a lush, green rural area famous for its long natural beach, seafood, and friendly people.

6 – A boathouse on the riverbank, blue and green abound.
7 – Green hills and tall trees behind a thatch-roofed restaurant near the riverbank.
8 – An overlook across green fields from a sandy vantage point.
9 & 10 – A pathway near a restaurant surrounded by palms, different grasses, and structures built from coconuts.
11 - A cluster of pink and orange wildflowers allows a splash of color in a sea of green.
13 – A cow walks on the beach.
14 – A vendor walks down the beach selling bananas. My cousin dips her toes in the water behind him.
15 – A different beach characterized by darker sand and many rock formations. Green hills and trees can be seen in the distance against the blue sky.
16 – A girl in a pink dress sits next to a yellow bag on the rocks, staring out at the ocean.
17 – Families playing on the beach with the hills behind them, darting through rocks and snapping photos of the beautiful landscape.
18 – Two children, a girl in a green dress with blue pants and a boy in khaki pants and a gray hoodie, play with a toy they made out of a stick. I played with them for an hour. We laughed and laughed together. I’ll never forget it.
19 – A child in a bright yellow raincoat stands at the shoreline, the smooth sand beneath her feet a glassy mirror. Perfect blue-gray waves wash against the sand, brushing over rocks.
20 & 21 – The sun, a perfect golden ball, begins to set on the horizon as the silken waves continue to wash over the shore. This was a moment of absolute inner peace.
22 – A handmade, locally-crafted shell necklace held up against the sun. Cox’s Bazar is known for its open-air markets.
23 – My silhouette against the sunset and the ocean.

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