More than Just a Market
Aziz Super Market -- only an addict of this market knows its magic. It is the place where so many talents have mingled and gone on to become famous.
Shahbagh Aziz Super Market, the meeting place for young and aspiring writers, journalists of different newspapers and TV channels, alternative music bands, script writers and drama serial makers, left-wing literary circles reached its peak moment of hustle and bustle during last week's Eid and Puja shopping. But it was definitely a little different from the usual shopping malls of the city.
Aziz Super Market -- only an addict of this market knows its magic. It is the place where so many talents have mingled and gone on to become famous. From today's reputed singer Kazi Krishnakoli Islam, young television drama and film-makers like Mostafa Sarwar Farooqui or Nurul Alam Atique, poet and film-maker Tokon Thakoor, Kamruzzaman Kamu or the leftists fighting for the cause of mineral resources...who has not sipped tea and spent hours on the stairs and in the corridors of this market?
"Now-a-days, Aziz market has been turned into a market of 'tea shirts," says Sahidul Islam Biju, the owner of pioneer book-shop of the market Pathak Samabesh. "Lots of book shops have shut down for a decline in book business. Still, a handful of us are surviving amidst the down-trend."
"Readers, during this period of Eid and Puja festivals, mostly look for Eid sankhyas (literary magazines with lots of novels, short-stories, poems and essays published by different newspapers) from Bangladesh and the Puja Sankhyas from West Bengal," he adds.
"Please, give me the biography of India's last sovereign Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar and one or two Eid sankhyas," suddenly I hear a female voice at the book shop Prothoma and found feminist anthropologist Rahnuma Ahmad in a yellow cotton saree just a week before Eid.
On the other side of the spectrum is the huge collection of T shirt shops. "I inaugurated this shop on the 9th of Ramadan. I am selling worth about 30,000/ taka per day," says Abdullah Raihan, owner of the tee shirt shop Sarabela. "There are 150 tee shirt shops in the Aziz market.
|You may find the faces of painters like Da Vinci, Salvador Dali, Picasso, philosophers like Socrates or Plato, scientists like Galileo or Stephen Hawking on these T shirts along with brief biographies.
So what is so special about the T shirts and fatuas at this market? Many of them sport poems or interesting quotes or just words in Bengali on these garments such as a few melancholic lines by Bengali poet Jibananda Das or the famous poem 'Jessore Road' by American poet Allen Ginsberg on our Liberation War 1971. You may find the faces of painters like Da Vinci, Salvador Dali, Picasso, philosophers like Socrates or Plato, scientists like Galileo or Stephen Hawking on these T shirts along with brief biographies. Again, the image of the terracotta beauty of Dinajpur Kantajeu temple may appear on a t shirt. Bahar Ahmed, the proprietor of `Nitya Upahar' and pioneer of this particular trend of fashion reminisces, "I began my journey with Nitya Upahar in 1992 at my home. During that time I mainly took order of screen-printing, wedding cards, appointment books etc. By 1994, I took a shop at this market. In 2001 I launched the tee shirt shop and the inauguration was held at the Fine Arts Institute premises of Dhaka University. It was the first day of Bengali New Year and noted cartoonist Shishir Bhattacharya inaugurated it just one hour after the Ramna bomb blast."
"At that time we could offer our buyers only the tee shirts with lines of Tagore or impression of paintings of Zainul Abedin," says Bahar Ahmed. "This Eid, around seven famous painters of the country are working for us. Senior painters like Qayyum Chowdhury, Hashem Khan and the younger generation achievers like Sabyasachi Hazra are developing various motifs for us. We take only 150/ taka for a tee shirt,"adds Bahar Ahmed.
"Apart from the T shirt house, we have also launched Shankhabar, the boutique shop for women since 2006. We produce saree and salwar-kameez of cotton, khadi silk, pure silk with local motifs. This year we are inscribing the names and introductions on around 800 dying rivers of Bangladesh on our bed sheets and the saris. "For puja for example, we have the face of Goddess Durga inscribed on the sari and this is a special item for the coming Puja occasion. Saris and shalwar kameezes range from 500/ to 1700/," says Bahar Ahmed.
A boost-up of around 30 percent has been added to their business during the Ramadan, he mentions.
Apart from clothes, women's ornaments of clay, wood, cane, brass metal of Aziz market shops are also famous. "There is a huge demand for women's ornaments for the oncoming festival. Apart from women's ornaments, we are selling different masks of clay, mugs, mirrors and show-items," says Masudur Rahman, the owner of 'Vertical.'
On the first floor is Nalanda where all the contemporary young writers have just taken seats to gossip over a cup of coffee till late evening.
'Tui Lalpahari r desh e jaa/ Rangamaatir desh e jaa/ Hethai ture manaiche na go/ Ekkebar e manaiche na (Hey wandering soul in the city/ go to the country of red mountain/ go to the country of red earth/ this place does not suit the you)'...I am enthralled by this unique music composition and vocal of heart-throb singer Arnob and make my way through the crowd to the audio shop at Aziz and order for one. "A number of new audio cds have come in the market before Eid ," says the shop owner with a twinkle in his eyes.
I go home in the rain humming the tune. I know in a few days how empty and deserted this crowded market will become and still a handful of addabaj (gossip lovers) writers and poets will make their appearance in front of the strong iron gates and locks. They will look for tea in the pavement before the market. Some will whistle the nostalgic tune of Manna Dey: 'Coffee house er sei addata aaj ar nei.' Aziz will go back to its usual pace in a week.
(R) thedailystar.net 2009