Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 3, Issue 70, Tuesday, December 19, 2006




People, people everywhere…not a buyer in sight

Is that the plight of the Dhaka International Trade Fair this time round? Although it is a much bigger, more publicised event, it makes you wonder if Dhaka's avid shoppers may not be a wee bit weary of the same thing over and over only a little revamped with more stylised stalls, lights, announcements and updates in the media.

Well, let's hope not for the sake of all those big names preparing all year round for this one chance to show off in style and put up their one-time-use cardboard and glass stalls at the fair. This year, the stalls from abroad seem far less in number; only the Iranian and Pakistani ones easy to spot but the desi businesses are all shine and sparkle ready with their deals of buy one get one free, or buy something and win something else! There seems to be something for everyone there. Everything from mobile phones to saris to furniture to jewellery to ceramics to TVs to CNG conversions are on sale and whether or not they actually buy something, people are tripping over themselves to check them out. So most stores are overcrowded with people asking about prices; many of which one can tell from their casual tones they don't really need to know.

One of the most crowded stores is the branch of the Iranian stall that sells jewellery where women, little girls and even men are crowded around counters bargaining for stones and silver earrings. Another branch of the same store that sells ceramic vases and pottery seemed far more interesting with unique pieces but was almost empty thanks to the heavy price tags. Among desi stores, Pride, Grameen Phone, Westecs, Tanin TV, all had their own expressions stamped on their stores and if nothing else they are definitely worth a look if one has the time and energy to walk what seems like ten football fields on a mid-afternoon out in the sun.

If you lose your way, which you very well might, there is the confusing colour coordinated map near the main entrance to make you feel even more hopeless but fear not- there's always something to fall back on. Our recommendation- the food stalls. They are somewhere behind the rows and rows of stalls and have everything from grilled chicken, to kebab, to ice cream, fuchka and coffee. If you have children, and get tired after a couple of hours of walking around, they have a 'ma o shishu' (mother and child) pavilion where they have chairs for you to sit and rest on. This thoughtful idea would definitely have worked smoother had there not been more than a few armed security people to keep you company there at all times!

What is most interesting is that more people than not were there just to experience the event that is the trade fair rather than to shop. Some people who've visited the place complain to not have had enough time to actually buy anything as they were so busy looking! That's not surprising when you think of the measly number of city spots we might go to just hang out. So if you are in the mood for donating blood, hogging on kebabs, checking out people of all ages and personalities or simply shopping, do pay the Trade Fair a visit. Oh and happy walking!

By Diya

Photo: Amirul Rajiv




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