Aziz Super Market has been around for so long, it has become an integral part of Dhaka city’s culture. This isn’t just any old market place, it is considered to be home to many a poet, philosopher, novelist, film-maker and intellectual who have spent hours in the market’s cramped little coffee shops having passionate discussions which would later shape their futures in ways they were not aware of.
The dimly lit, narrow passages of the market, have a charm of their own, and the tiny shops each host a different, interesting talent. There are clothing stores, the wares of which are designed mostly by the store owners themselves. Kurtas and kameezes with ethnic motifs and bright colours, designed and priced reasonably for students.
The t-Shirt shops in Aziz market are well known for their bold patriotic catchphrases and have been a welcome addition to the wardrobes of many a blossoming revolutionary. It isn’t uncommon to see a youngster, especially in times during these, abandoning his button down collared shirt for a slogan bearing t-shirt and Che beret— dressing the modern day activist seems to be a hobby for the designers in this market, many of whom are students of Dhaka University’s Fine Arts Institute. Their t-shirts also portray musical icons such as Bob Marley, Pink Floyd and the Beatles and legendary sportsmen.
Aside from clothing stores, there are books galore, both local and foreign, classics and contemporary literature. Bangla translations of popular foreign books are also widely available here. Each bookshop is unique in its own way. One particular store, owned by an aspiring independent film maker, sells carefully selected foreign films (French, Irani, Spanish etc), while another sells posters of intellectual idols such as Sattyajit Ray, John Lennon, Arundhati Roy and Tagore among many others whom students today consider their role models.
A number of arts and cultural centres, computer training centres, sweet shops and restaurants are also a part of this one of a kind market, but what catches the eye when you first approach it, is a unique little store, with a window display of marble statues of all shapes and sizes. This store has been a part of the market since the very beginning of its existence. Inspired by the sculptures he had seen in Spain, the shop owner opened this outlet as a hobby. The sculptures, all reasonably priced are marble casts of Spanish and Italian design as well as some with Bangladeshi influence. “I don’t discriminate between religions or promote any one religion,” says the owner who wishes to remain unnamed, as he shows us sculptures of Moses, Jesus, Radha, Krishna and a large emblem with the words “Allahu” carved on it. The store has also recently completed a series depicting the architectural heritage of Bangladesh, which includes intricate mini models of the Smriti Shoudho, Shaheed Minar, Parliamant building, Shat Gambuj Mosque etc.
Aziz Market, with its avant garde merchandise and artistic patrons is undoubtedly the most popular cultural hub of the city. Every student, especially of Dhaka University holds this market as the epitome of Bangladeshi spirit and pride. The coffee shop debaters, who have gone into the world to fight for their cause, still hold this landmark close to their hearts. A walk through Aziz Super Market will give every Bangladeshi a sense of unity, freedom and a sense of belonging and a reminder of who we are, something we all crave, in these troubled times.