Dazed and Confused
Are you enjoying the delights of the season? In case you didn't get my drift, I'm talking about flu season. Yup, it's that wonderful time of the year when germs and bacteria galore infest our system and force us to enjoy the much-needed (?) leisure.
So here I am, pondering whether I should shove a fork through my left eye and swirl my brain with it to stop the throbbing headache. Meanwhile germs in my throat are busy doing salsa.
Pleasant thoughts, must have pleasant thoughts. Going to Cox's Bazar with the campus photography club a week ago -- now there's something nice (save your amateur photographer jokes for your dates). Been to Cox's Bazar after 12 years. Much has changed. I remembered Cox's Bazar being a quiet little town with hospitable natives and unadulterated natural wonders. The "new and improved" Cox's Bazar was quite a shock. Ga-zillion hotels, hordes of people who apparently have no other place to go on vacations and simple natives who'd been touched by the enlightenment of globalisation and related shrewd business skills make the new face of the tourism capital.
We stayed at 'Sea Taj Mahal'. The accommodations were more than enough for me: Comfortable bed, running water in the bathroom, and a balcony facing the beach. The food wasn't exactly finger licking good but then again I'm sure the cordon bleu wasn't competing for the title of 'Iron Chef'.
The beach wasn't at all how I remembered it to be either. Nutshells, ice cream wrappers, and garbage of several kinds adorn the beach. I know what you're thinking. Of course there are trash bins but I think in the process of aiming the bins people actually end up throwing garbage on the beach. So you see, we're not totally uncivilised. Most people were just standing on the beach, some dressed like they were at a first cousin's wedding. Couple of foreigners in proper beachwear trying to get a tan were attracting occasional gasps, "what the hell were they thinking?" We Bangladeshis hate tanning (just a fancy euphemism for getting darker anyway).
The murky hue of the water and the questionable looking foam didn't stop me from taking a dip. Ok I'm not wearing a shirt, I'm in public in shorts and I'm not a foreigner. Sue me!!! Skin disease schmin disease!!!
But a trip to Maheshkhali was worth the almost 10-hour-long bus ride from Dhaka to Cox's Bazar (was supposed to take 8 hours, but who keeps track of time). Takes about 15/20 minutes to get to the island on a packed rundown speedboat. I'm afraid I may have a sensitive stomach; was feeling kind of queasy when the boat was cutting through big waves. Those folks definitely didn't need to see what I had for breakfast.
Means of transportation on the island: good ol' fashioned rickshaws. Well, we could've hiked but we had to be back to the mainland by 5pm and it was 12pm then. 1st stop: A Buddhist temple in the Rakhine neighbourhood. Ok, admitted, even to a jaded Joe like myself, the temple, with its exquisite Buddha statue, golden pagodas and a symbolic Bodhi tree, was overwhelming. I rarely get to see this image of Bangladesh (at the risk of sounding ignorant). "Click...click...clickitty click..." that's all I could hear, over-enthusiastic budding photographers getting busy. Adinath temple on top of a hill was nice too but I guess I enjoyed the view from the top more -- woods, smaller hills, a wharf under construction and water that hasn't been blessed by pollution yet. Saw a few chained monkeys at the temple premises. There's always some eager audience for a good farce. Must be nice for the animals to be exploited like that!
Adjacent to the Adinath temple, there's another pagoda, guarded by concrete lions. Betel leaf, the local cash crop, growing on the sides of the hill. For lunch I had shutki with bhaat, while my compadres chose to maintain a safe distance from me. Ok, I wasn't planning to kiss anyone after my meal and I've had previous experience with dried fish as both my parents' families are originally from the coastal region.
...Finally the sleep inducing cold meds are kicking in... Evanescence's Amy Lee crooning My Immortal is the perfect lullaby and I can let my chain of thoughts go haywire peacefully...
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