I’m taking my time this morning. I’ve been going-over the photographs that I took yesterday and lingering a bit longer in the Ambrosia guest house’s living room.
Love a good tea set! I had to take this picture of my breakfast, just so you all get a sense of the kind of simple luxury I’m experiencing here. Toast and eggs, cornflakes and a bowl of melony fruit that kind of melts in your mouth. The tea here is really strong which is exactly how I like it. I may have to take some back with me.
So, as I reported in yesterday’s post, Bangladesh is going through a change of government. I am told that the new government is expected to take power in about three month’s time. An interim government is now in control of the country. From what I can discern from the newspapers, this government is being pushed and pulled by the outgoing BNP (Bangladesh National Party) and (I think) a rival party, the AL (Bangladesh Awami League). In the New Age paper today, the BNP was described as being at the “fag end of its tenure”. Love that turn of phrase. Shahidul explained to me yesterday that DRIK had fallen somewhat behind schedule with Chobi Mela due to the political collapse of last week which disrupted just about everything.
On closer inspection of the photographs I took yesterday, the men at the protest that we drove past appeared to be demonstrating against the deaths that occurred in the protests of last week. The men were wearing placards that showed portraits of people on the top, which were contrasted against the graphic photographs of their dead bodies beneath.
I took a walk to DRIK today following the suggestion of Shahidul that I should challenge myself a bit and not call for the car. I think that the inference there was that I might be a bit of a girly wuss (“wuss” is Aussie for girly coward, or Mummy’s boy and is usually applied to boys who object to playing sport), which of course I am not, as my dear friends and colleagues will attest to. I am just slightly directionally challenged (I still can’t find my way around Melbourne despite having visited about a dozen times in the last two years, because I always forget to buy a map). I only took two wrong turns which added about 30 minutes to my 15 minute journey. I remembered some graffiti from walking with Reza yesterday which helped to guide me to my destination. Then I kind of fell-into DRIK HQ after tripping on some concrete. Smooth.
I am now taking-up office space, which is at a premium and I’m sure I’m getting in everyone’s way.
Khairul has just taken me to lunch at a Bengali restaurant. At first we headed to another American style fast-food joint at which we sat down and I asked “Do you eat this stuff normally?” to which Khairul replied “No” (thank goodness). I don’t eat that stuff at all anymore. So, to my delight we headed via rickshaw to a local restaurant for rice with lentils, a mustardy bean dish, chicken curry, vegetable curry and a savoury yoghurt drink that Khairul told me EVERYONE likes. Well, I wasn’t prepared to go the whole way with this lassi. I thought it might test my karma a bit too much stomach-wise. Had a few dainty sips though. The food was great! I have been told that Bengali curry is the best, and it's true.
While I was eating, Richard Rogers called from the Australian High Commission and it seems that they’ve organsied a function for Trent on Wednesday night which will be cool. Now I have to find a nice dress to wear. I might have to convince one of the lovely ladies here to take me shopping at lunchtime. Not a priority I think though, as the place is going wild with 30 new volunteers just taking a tea-break from working all day on the construction of frames and installation.
The DRIK multimedia crew have just finished a 34 second television advertisement for Chobi Mela, which is an incredibly up-beat ad with drums and a sequence of moving images from the last festival. I think this will be a pretty successful campaign. Chobi Mela looks like the festival to see.
Much later, back at Ambrosia:
I just had the experience of getting lost on a rickshaw. I knew this would happen despite the fact that I learned all the appropriate phrases before jumping on board. It was another karmic punishment for being lazy and deciding not to walk back to the hotel.
At Ambrosia, I met Robert Pledge, the Director of Contact Press Images in New York. The exhibition of Contact Press images is the centrepiece for the festival and will be installed in the National Museum's exhibition space. Stephen Dupont is with Contact Press so it will be great to see his work among that of his contemporaries from around the world. Shahidul is now on his way to Singapore to pick up the Contact Press exhibition prints from the printer. There was some difficulty here with getting the exhibition into Dhaka, so the solution has been to print in Singapore, and Shahidul to personally collect them. Everyone seems to be taking this with a great degree of calm. Most of the time I've been there, DRIK is so calm that you would hardly know that the building was teeming with workers and volunteers. Maybe folks will start losing it by around Wednesday - fortunately by that time I should be hanging Minutes to Midnight, out of the direct line of fire.