In the middle of the madding crowd
Amidst all the hustle and the bustle of the city lie a large, age-old sanctuary -- a refuge from the city's racing pulse, a haven for plants and plant lovers, and an unusual sanctuary for a few rare, timid and shy animals. It is the land of lush greens and sheltering birds and an ancient surrounding with its genesis dating back to the Mughal era - a place of now extinct tombs and mosques and splendid buildings.
With the tiring vibe of the stressful life of the capital, Ramna Park offers a short and much needed break from city life. It hosts many trees, allowing one to be in touch with nature. After all, there are not many places in Dhaka that can boast so many old and sky-touching trees in one place.
Having soaked so much history and memories, the large banyan trees with peculiarly overgrown roots and branches still tirelessly give shelter from the scorching sun to so many. On the other hand, large round bases at the bottom of some trees are a place you would want to return to with friends and a cup of tea.
At the heart of the haven is a large lake that travels across the park. In winter mornings, concrete benches on all the sides of the lake, built under huge trees, provide the gallery for watching the tireless game between the water and the mist: fog hovers over the water, dancing with the flow and at times making you search for the boundary between the two, with the fog's frequent erratic turns marking the difference. So close to the water is the fog, gently brushing past the surface, that it gives the impression of a cursed lake with hot vapourising water.
An elderly couple finishes their early morning stroll after Fajr prayers and sits on the bench, looking at the lake - and at life, and how it went by. Like the mist over the lake, memories too, become hazy and magical. One side of the park is a playground for kids that has slides, climbers and swings. The mornings are a busy time with all the joggers exercising in groups. On the other hand, the evenings are a time of laughter and glee, and young people flock together to the place to hang out with friends and their dear ones.
Ramna Park is a place of celebration, a place filled with vivid colours and enchanting music in the Bengali New Year. Indeed it is an interesting place. But its beauty is a curtain that is increasingly finding it hard to cover the mismanagement and all the misdoings of the park, from little environmental awareness and public smoking and so on. If this carries on, then one of the most serene places in Dhaka will be lost, engulfed by the madding crowd.
By M H Haider
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed