We’re in one of the poorest, most congested countries on earth. What a trip! The people are so nice you can’t believe it. There is virtually no tourism. I took our bandleader Charlie out for a trip since I had been scoping the scene for a few days. I started by taking him on a little boat ride to the slum across the lake. I had been told not to go in there so what do I do? I went in full camera, video, wallet and an entourage of young kids, some who were swimming in the massively polluted lake w hand just crossed. We didn’t ask for the extras but I guess we were interesting and they were not begging so we let them come along.
It was just minutes before we met an English speaking teen who invited him to his family’s pad. I knew it would be interesting and I had never been in a Bengali household or even close. Twas very cool indeed. As we walked into their estate we first saw a lady cooking outside over a fire and then there were ducks and baby ducks and then the beach littered with kids as well as garbage. Lots of fishermen, presumably relatives or neighbors.
Charlie started explaining to a quickly growing crowd of people what we do while took pictures of the area. It was pretty cool as everyone had smiles on their faces yet very sobering seeing that kind of poverty first hand.
It wasn’t but 5 minutes later and Charlie had the whole gang singing some call and response and clapping on 2 and 4. after about 15-10 minutes we decided to head on our journey for some clothes shopping not far a way. The temperature was over 100 F so we jumped on a Rickshaw for a few minutes to get to the shopping street quickly so we could hydrate before we ended up dehydrated white boys. After getting some water we realized that all the clothing stores were closed even though it was Sunday. The embassy staff told use that Sunday was their Monday but in some hoods they forced a change in that policy to reduce traffic and with all the obviously starving kids and infants we had seen, we decided to load up a rickshaw with fruit(mainly Litchi, Bannana’s and mango) We hired a guy to pedal us and a young sidekick (8 years old?) around for an hour so we could check out the city and go to poor places and hand out food. Our target was children. Our driver really only spoke a few words of English but he figured out what we were up to after a while and really helped us out. Our sidekick really stepped up his game as well when he got some food in him and he too realized what we were doing so he was helping out along the way. Our First stop was a small group of really young kids and it was pretty obvious they were hungry.
The next big stop was about 1k further. We spotted some hungry ones pretty close to our hotel. A crowd grew rapidly and soon Charlie was playing flutes w a local flute builder and I was playing drums with 2 rocks on the the bell of the Rickshaw. You really couldn’t find even one stick in this city. It was all used for firewood for cooking. The crowd started to block traffic and we had finally had to split after about 10-15 minutes. We also fed quite a pile of kids! What a great feeling! I know you can’t feed them all but we kept it micro in a way.
Our next stop was a fruit stand. We had to replenish out fruit supply and our sidekick was really starting to dig this operation. He started warming up to Charlie at this point as you can see in the pics.
Our next stop was the mother slum and I had been there before and knew they really needed food. The driver stepped in and helped distribute the fruit. We are talking some really poor people that really needed food for their baby’s and kids. Muslim moms are not usually posing for the camera but they were so happy they were asking us to take pictures, so I did. Here are a few from our final stop.
Here is a video below of our whole day for those who want a more complete picture of our day. Turkey next, and not just the big cities, we will be near Syria and will be thinking of Maher Arar! Cheers Jon