Monday, April 25, 2011

National Baul Fair 1417, Dhaka

Tuesday, 15th February 2011

"Bangladesh Cultural Forum" arranged a three days of "Baul Mela"(actual title: "Jatio Baul Mela 1417"/National Baul Fair 1417), started at 13th February and ended at 15th February of 2011. The location of this fair was "Shohrawardi Uddan". I was only able to join the party during third day. Missed the first two days unfortunately.

The basic idea of the Mela was to introduce the bauls from root level. Especially those who are completely unknown to the urban people. Most of the open air baul concerts are ornate by the known or selected bauls. No one wants to take the risk to call these poor bauls for the show. The mela authority did show this bravado by confronting these bauls. Along with those floating bauls, they have also listed few renowned balus for the audience.

Every performer for this show was given an opportunity to talk for few words. Trust me, by hearing from them, I felt how lucid their mind is, and how simple they are. I didn't see any craving for a city life inside them. Some of them were even too nervous to talk a single word.

I know you guys may not like this kind of shows. But I have a terrible fascination for these baul songs. Reasons are, their songs used to come from their heart, not from the mouth; pronunciation are very colloquial and agricultural(they don't care about good pronunciation). Finally their instruments, dhol, khomok, mondira, bansuri, ektara, dotara.

This show was mixed with singers having varying age ranges, gender, and location. It was lovely to see the bauls from every single corner of the country. Everyone tried to make a good impression by their performances, some of them were failed unfortunately. I think they were nervous.

Now come about the audiences. It wasn't that much crowed, may be two or three hundreds people only. Most of them were from middle class and below. Among those, most of them were the vagabonds and mobile sellers from the park. It was fine to see people bestowed money to the singers when they found it was satisfactory.

Here are the list of performers for the last day:

1) Anwar baul, Rajbari, Goalondo.
2) Bhogiroth Malou, Faridpur.
3) Rupai Dewan, Barisal.
4) Sathi, Mymensingh.
5) Anwar Dewan.
6) Jibon Dewan, Sariatpur.
7) Chitto Dewan, Kerani Ganj.
8) Kajoli Dewan
9) Akkas Dewan (creator of "Ami Chailam Jare, Bhobe Pailam Na Tare")
10) Nasima Dewan (wife of Akkas Dewan)
11) Mina Pagli
12) Topon Mondol, Barisal

You can find all the videos at this playlist, I'll recommend you to go through the songs of the playlist. You may love it.

I believe next year, they will arrange this same fair, so don't miss your chance.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Pohela Boishakh "Nouka Baich" at Dhanmondi Lake

Thursday, 14th April 2011

I had a very strict plan for this "Pohela Boishakh of 1418". Observing the "Nouka Baich"(boat race) at Dhanmondi lake was a part of that. This race was supposed to happen at 3:30, and I was there in time.

Initially the Western bank of the lake(had a shadow from sun, so people tried to get a position there first) was packed, and the Eastern side was almost empty. I was standing there with the strangers around me.

In this country, nothing started timely, at least for my case. I was bored by standing there over an hour. And almost decided to leave the place without watching that 'moody' race. I think the atmosphere around me was excellent, and that didn't allow me to leave the place. I loved the way people were making their move. Every single people were excited about they race.

It was around 4:45 when the boat race was about to start. At that point, i think not an inch of space was available for the spectators to stand. From my place it was only possible to observe the 85% of the race(the lake has a curve from my position).

Five boat was ready for the race. Boats representing the 5 major divisions(Dhaka, Khulna, Sylhet, Rajshahi, Chittagong) from Bangladesh. Lets call this race is "Majhi Palla" instead of "Nouka Baich". Rajshahi Won the race, and our Dhaka was the 5th proudly :-)

The boats(baich'er nau) for the Baich(race) used to be around 25-40 feet long(known as longboat, which were used by the vikings at long past). 40-60 men used to row those boats, and those are exceedingly fast. Even faster than the engine boats. That's why the vikings ruled over the ocean of European zone. That's another story.

I was a bit infelicitous by watching that race. I didn't expect that small boats for the race. You cannot get a flavor of longboat race with those small ones. But at the same time, I am a bit pragmatic, this lake is a small one, and I cannot expect those longboats are suitable for this poor lake. But anyway, for the people of Dhaka, it's nothing less. They are happy, and so do I.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Day Before Pohela Boishakh at Kodomtola Utsav

Wednesday, 13th April 2011

The last month of the Bengali Calendar is Chaitra, and the last day of that month is called "Chaitra Sonkranti". Usually it is 13th April according to Bangladeshi government(Its different than West Bengal). Outside Dhaka, there are lots of Mela, and Festivals used to arrange by the exulting Bengalies.

Dhaka is highly congested, and it is hard to arrange any fair(mela) here. So we people are happy by watching the stage programs and concerts instead. Unfortunately, at "Chaitra Sangkranti" there are hardly any programs around Dhaka. "Kodomtoli Kali Bari" is a bit different on this occasion. They have been arranging a program for two days(last day and first day of Bengali calendar, year 1418).

This place is located at "East Bashabo" of Dhaka. Local people knows this places as "Kodomtoli Kali Bari"(though the academic name is Rajarbag Kali Bari). If you want to go this place, first come at "Bashabo Buddha Bihar", which is a landmark of that area. From there, you can take any rickshaw to come at this place. For your information, the rickshaw roads are not that much smooth.

I have a strict schedule for the second day(Pohela Boishakh), so I only enjoyed the first day's program. It was started at afternoon, and ended after 10 at night. Few satellite channels did broadcast this program live from there. Initially there were very few people, but at evening it was jam packed.

I really appreciate the authority to concocting the program by various type of songs, so everyone of us was satisfied. I liked the Bhatiali, Bhawaiya songs along with few Lalon songs. The only boring part from this program was, the awe full lighting. I don't know how other people reacted with that. When the light focused over my eyes, I just got blind for a few seconds.

Another thing, there are many people like me, who want to hear these songs directly from Bauls. But here you will not get this creamy flavor. Most of the singers are well dressed and makeup-ed. But still, this vicarious performance will amuse you either. I have added two videos with this posting, one is Bhawaiya, and another one is from our "Mohua Pala".

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Bandarban: Expedition Rumana, Day-6

Saturday, 18th September 2010

Continuation from Day-5 Expedition...

This is our last day for this trekking session. We have plenty of time in our hand but very short distance to cover today. So everyone is a bit relax today. Most of us had an excellent sleep last night, and wake up a bit late(compare to other days). After freshen up everyone is ready to start.

It is around 7:30 at morning, and the Bogalake is still awesome. Colorful water everywhere due to the ambient shadow of the trees and clouds are amenable for these occult scenery. It was hard to leave such a beauty behind. But no problem, soon we will be here.

Boga Lake at morning

The trekkers from Bogalake normally use the trek through the traditional "Jhiri Path". But there is an alternate way which you can use to return at "Ruma Bazar". This is through the "Marma Para" Jhiri Path. But the path is not smooth as the traditional one, also its time consuming. Unless anyone is too adventurous, normally don't use this trek. Since we all are here for adventure, and we have time on hand, we picked this route.

Marma Para Jhiri Poth

I have heard that the Marma Tribes are a bit unclean compare to the other tribal colonies from our hilly area. And its became true. Its hard for me to say, but yes, they are a bit grubby. Still, I have a passion about culture, and I have enjoyed those Marma People and their houses.

Marma Para Jhiri Poth

After the "Marma Para", the Jhiri is started. Its a bit narrow, and too many large boulders those make the walking difficult. Sometimes the path is having a large stoned surface and which is very slippy, and risky. We have already trekked the hardest few one last two days, so it is not making any problem for us. According to our team captain, local Marama people only come here for hunting fishes and other animals.

After three hours, we have reached at the "Boga Mukh Para", where we have stayed our first night. So far today, most of the trek I was alone, cause the faster trekkers were too much ahead of me, and the slowest trekkers were lagging too much behind. So I found the leading trekkers were having some snacks under the small hut kind of shade at Boga Mukh Para. I have Joined them without any invitation.

Boga Mukh Para

I think today is the most hottest day for this expedition. At this tour we all are experienced with almost all kind of weathers. Excellent. Now time for moving forward once again. After "Boga Mukh Para", our path will be always meandered with the beautiful "Ruma Khal".

Jhiri Poth & Ruma Khal

There is a place near Ruma Khal, where a small shop is available. I think there is a tribal colony available around that place. This shop is helpful for the trekkers. They can find some foods over here. At "Day-1" of this expedition, we had found some Papaya here, but today it is not available, but banana is available. Interim of our resting period, 4/5 beautiful tribal girls were having bath at the water of shallow Ruma Khal. It just increased the beauty of the canal further more.

A tea stall amid of Jhiri Poth

Around 3 hours after Boga Mukh Para, we have reached at the beneath of the "Lai Rumpi" hill. After this hill, its Ruma Bazar. It is around 1:30 of the day. Very hot day, and my skin is scorching. Before climbing the hill, Tushar was talking about his experienced from his expedition. According to him, this hill climbing is terribly hard for the trekkers, cause the trekker knows its the last step, so his muscles used to get out of control. Naturally people used to sucked up at his last step. Also we are already tired at the end. So he warned me.

Ruma Khal beneath of Lai Rumpi Hill

Then I have stopped myself climbing the hill, and taking some rest under a tree. Also I have washed my faces and head to get some refreshment. But you know, nothing worked for me. After few minutes of climbing, I am feeling tired and taking heavy breaths. But I have to climb this anyway. So I am making some small progresses. At the peak of the hill, all of our leading trekkers are resting, and congratulate us for climbing this one(they already experienced how hard it was).

View from Lai Rumpi Hill, the path that just been trekked

After taking some rest under the tree, we finally get inside the Jony's house(our guide boy). Around an hour of resting, we are now moving towards the "Ruma Ghat"(doc). I thought our adventure is just finished, and next few hours will be dull. But interesting, our captain hired an engine boat for 3000 taka. This boat will take us to the Bandarban Town. So no more two hours of boring bus journey. Everyone is excited about this. We have left our captain at there(he is a freak about mountain), and rest of us jumped inside the boat.

Its around the rainy season, and the river has prominent amount of water, and the water flow is on our direction, thus a boat can easily travel from Ruma Bazar to Bandarban town easily. But it will be unwise to use an engine boat from Bandarban to Ruma Bazar, because it will be against the current/flow, and it will eat your precious time.

Shangu River, view from our engine boat

After the starting of the boat, its terribly hot around. And we have nothing to do. So me and others took a small nap. About an hour when we get on our feet, it was surprisingly cloudy around, and its about to rain. Cool weather. Everyone moved at the top/roof of the boat, and started to enjoy the beauty around the river banks.

There were several rainbows at the sky due to the hide and seek of the clouds and sun. Also the mild rain is keep going on. Our boat is racing with the cloud now. Sometime the boat is ahead of the cloud, and sometime the cloud is ahead of the boat. I am enjoying this race. If you ever get a chance to visit Bandarban during rainy season, don't miss this boat journey from Ruma Bazar to Bandarban town.

Around 7 we have reached at the town. After relaxing at the bus counter, all went to a nearby hotel for the dinner. Our bus will start at 9:30, night. So we need to complete this dinner quickly. Unfortunately the dinner was very bad. It was having stale foods, but we had to eat those.

After the dinner, we are now waiting for the bus to start for Dhaka. A successful expedition is just completed. I would love to thanks to our team captain, and the second captain Tushar for their support.

I will comeback with new expedition when it will be made. Till then good bye.