Sunday, December 7, 2008

Bangladesh: The unbelievable Saddarghat in Dhaka

Dhaka is a giant mass of conglomerated people, constructions, slums, cars, rickshaws, markets, noise and traffic jams.
Dhaka is an amazing place on earth, worth letting it absorb you and give it what it demands: all your energy at its service.
Once you accept this, the giant city shows its charms. Wandering around the Old Dhaka streets and finding oneself lost in the shapeless bazar that is formed of thousands of markets and foodstores is the preparation for the big river experience: Saddarghat, the river port looking into the Buriganga river.

This is the main river port of the city, and certainly one of the busiest in Bangladesh.
The Buriganga, which for some authors is the lifeline of Dhaka, is such a dirty mass of viscous black water, that one might think that life can come to an end at any moment. False. No other place offers such a high concentration of people and machines, crows on air and the rest on water. People use the river for transportation purposes, as a vast number of ferries and passenger cruises depart from here to many places around Bangladesh. Cement transport vessels cruise the river up and down all along the day, so heavily loaded that they literally are half-sunk, the top deck is submerged at its lowest part (the center of the vessel). People work on loading and unloading these artifacts, as always seen around this country, by carrying weight on their heads forming efficient human chains. Coconuts arrive from the countryside, and some amount is preprocessed right at the ghat (port), leaving to decompose the outer shell, giving room to life, they serve to feed insects and other lifeforms.

People, people, wherever you look people move by water, wash their clothes, rush to pick a ferry, eat, spit, work, all in there.
Ships are repaired right there, by hand, by hammer, the noise of hammers against metal is constant and creates its own atmosphere.

Great numbers of tanneries and industries are located by the banks of Buriganga, and although many of them vomit wastewater into the river, not all use any wastewater processes. Animal and human disposals, waste of all kinds, oils from ships, all, everything, into the water.
This is the lifeline of a city, an overcrowded city in an overcrowded country makes it difficult to know which are the options to start cleaning the river. In fact, even if it were possible, how could it be done when so many people are sustained, have room here, everything appears to work in a complex semi-stable equilibrium that may be difficult to break, and the options after this equilibrium is altered are unknown. Liars those who shout answers. If any complex machine, any organism requires a dirty and noisy heart or engine room, this is Dhaka. Just out of there, rural life appears again.


contador de visitas