Having explored the older quarter, wealthy suburbs and commercial center, as well as one education institution, I set out to see some of the government institutions located to the northwest because they play foundational roles in social and economic outcomes.
I made my way toward the Liberation War Museum to learn about the events, values and choices that shaped the early formation of Bangladesh. It was a long walk, passing by mosques, a fancy Bangladesh-China friendship conference center, as well as parts of Chondrima Park. The National Library caught my attention, so I decided to try and get a library card.
The older building featured a huge multistory mural painted on the main wall. As I admired it, the director of the library approached me and offered a tour of the facilities then showed me into the archives and explained their efforts to restore historic works being damaged by humidity and lack of proper refrigerated storage. It was sad as I knew he was politely pleading for financial assistance. I was not able to help nor get a library card.
Afterwards, I headed to the nearby National Museum of Science and Technology, only to find nearly barren displays and a handful of offices in otherwise empty hallways.
So, I headed to the Liberation War Museum which I knew would be open. It was an immense structure, separated by a small river, with poverty on one side and modern structures on the other. I arrived via the impoverished side and saw no practical route but to wade through narrow dirt paths, inches from the canal edge.
The museum was extensive and narrated Bangladeshi independence in similar fashion to Timor Leste’s Resistance Museum. Different halls recount personal stories and news of the horrors that led Bangladesh to form its own language based identity, separate from India and Pakistan. I wondered how multi-lingual-ism can lead to forming a global citizen identity.
On the way back, I wanted to pass by the Language Martyr monument, and found myself wandering through an Agriculture University. It was more spacious but seemed less active than Dhaka University.
Once on the other side, I made my way to the Bangladesh Parliament and congressional offices, which appeared to be floating above Zia Uddan lake in the middle of a magnificent park.
A lot of people were out and about, paying respect at the Tomb of President Ziaur Rahman, or more likely enjoying the cooler and dry weather in the green open spaces.
As evening approached, I headed to Bashundara City mall to get food, admire its beautify colored glass dome and watch a movie since Bangladesh officially uses English. I was caught off guard when the national flag and anthem started playing to signal the start of the movie. Everyone stood up in patriotic attention while I awkwardly remained seated (and took a picture).
On my way out, I discovered a distinctly unique modern Bangladeshi cultural practice. See if you can spot it.
You may feel compelled to help people in need during a trip. I don’t recommend it because it increases risk to you. You likely won’t run out of money, but you might need to shorten or restrict your trip. You also might invite unwanted attention. Also, the money may not go toward your good intentions because there is no way to hold people accountable after you leave.