I was able to convince Alphie that he should spend some more time in Bengal.Since Bangladesh is so close to Kol kata,it would be unfair not to go to Bangladesh. Besides it is the country I am from. I didn’t have to say much to convince him.He thought about it.I only said it once and he was happy to change his booking.Gepetto however had a big smile on his face. He was at an age when missing school is a lot of fun.There will be no studies, no cranky teachers,no Principal’s office to visit as punishment.Ranu just made his day. “I made the right choice by asking for a guide.Life is awesome he thought.” Ranu thought he was exceptionally quiet,she inquired, “everything okay Gepetto,did I do anything wrong?” ” Oh no he said,it is fine,I like your change of plans.”
We are going to Dhaka. I will show you my college,it is Holy Cross College,near Kawran Bazaar.After graduating I took admission in Dhaka university.My sister wanted me to take admission in the university after school.I was afraid of the male population.I had heard after the new year,the boys give names to the female students.As I did not want to face it.I decided to spend two years in the Girl’s college.I thought I would be two years older and might be able to deal with it. Dhaka university is the oldest in Bangladesh.There are a lot of universities now.After my education I taught in Residential Model School,Mohammadpur,Dhaka.I was unable to get a picture of my college,therefore I can only say,it was just an ordinary college.Most of our teachers were nuns from the united states.
From Dhaka we decided to visit Chittagong,the second largest city in Bangladesh.It is a port city in southern Bangladesh.It is built on the banks of the Karnaphuli River.It is the country’s busiest seaport.It has a population of over 5.5 million people.It is a trading post since the 9th century.It has a multicultural heritage of Islamic,Hindu and Buddhist traditions.A few parts of Chittagong were developed in the early twentieth century under the British .The city also became a focal point for revolutionary activities against the British.
Chittagong has attracted people from around the world.The various waves of settlements left a lasting impact on the language and culture of the city.The origins of the people are diverse and multi-ethnic. The most significant contributors to the population are indigenous Tibeto-Burman people and traders and settlers of Arab,Afghan and Mughal origin.They travelled from the North-west many hundreds of years ago.
Lungi or Dhoti are the most common costume for men and Saree for women.Rice and fish are the staple food of the people.Because of its close proximity to the sea, sea food is very popular.vegetables commonly found are: egg plant,flat beans,okra,pumpkins,potatoes, gourds and several others are grown.The main fruits are Jack fruit,coconut,papaya,bananas and other varieties are grown.
The architectural features of Chittagong can be found in mosques,shrines,dargah and other masonry.The most revered shrine is the Bayazid Bostami.He was a Sufi,his birth place was Bostam in Iran. There are several conflicting stories about the saint.Some believe,he actually visited Chittagong. Some 18th century Bengali poets remembered a Shah Sultan of Nasirabad in their poems. Because Bayazid Bostami was also known as Sultan-ul- Arefin, therefore it is believed that the above two are the same man.
Chittagong is a major tourist attraction. Its green hills and forests, its broad sandy beaches and the cool climate always attract the tourists.The people of Chittagong speak Chittagonian,this is believed to be an Indo-European language of the Eastern Indic group.A large number of Arabic words are used in this dialect. Speakers of this dialect consider it a dialect of standard Bengali,which is the official language of Bangladesh.
Personally speaking the words did not sound like standard Bengali.The first time I visited Chittagong,I could not understand what they were saying.My aunt and I stood in the station looking for a rickshaw driver whom we could understand.We did find one who was from my home town. I always was fascinated by different dialects and languages.I stayed with my mother’s uncle.He and all the members of his family spoke the dialect.I stayed with them for fifteen days and learned the dialect.Whenever they said something I didn’t understand,I would ask what does it mean.This curiosity of mine helped me to learn the dialect.I did not try to teach Gepetto the Chittagonian dialect.He was happy visiting all the places. Cleanliness was an issue,I reminded him he was in a different country to see all the unique things which he will not find in Canada.If he is uncomfortable because the place is not squeaky clean,he will not enjoy his trip.I told him to try to admire the beautiful architecture of the mosques and shrines.Susan seemed to find the two cities interesting.Alphie probably was thinking,when he would be able to go back and try outwitting some other naive fellow,then again I took him to so many religious places,would he try his trick again?Who knows! I thought of all the places I was able to go to,my job as a guide made it possible.It’s a ‘COOL’ job.
Alphie family are ready to say, Allah Hafiz, May God Be With You!