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Dhaka (1800-1900)

In 1700 Dhaka stood the twelfth among the richest cities in the world

This is our beloved Dhaka City. Can you imagine what it was like about two hundred years ago? If you find it difficult to conjure the portrait of Dhaka as it used to be, don't worry. BD Bytes is here to take you back there.

Dhaka has a history that dates back hundreds of years. According to recorded history Dhaka was founded in 1608 A.D. as the seat of the Imperial Mughal Viceroy of Bengal. It is said that in the fifteenth century there was a kingdom named 'Dabeka' in this area and in course of time 'Dabeka' metamorphosed into 'Dhaka'. The Hindu community, however, believes that the name Dhaka came from Devi Dhakeshwari the founder goddess of Dhaka. Dhakeshwari is the prime idol of Dhakeshwari Temple built in the eleventh century by King Ballal Sen.

In 1700 Dhaka stood twelfth among the richest cities in the world. Hard to believe, isn't it? Don't worry Dhaka is still the twelfth city in the world… if only if she's sorted by her voluminous population.

So how did it become an actual city? The Dhaka Municipality was founded in 1864. Before that, different communities looked after her for a period of fifty years. Ananda Chandra was the first elected chairman of Dhaka Municipality in 1884. He was the founder of Anandamoyee School.

The first English daily newspaper to come out in Dhaka was Dhaka News, which was published in 1856. Dhaka Prokash, the first Bengali newspaper came out in the Bengali year of 1267. It was the most popular newspaper of that time and its publication lasted an unbelievable one hundred years. It was printed through the Bangala Jontro, the first printing-machine in Dhaka with Bengali fonts. Dinbondhu Mitra's Neeldorpon was published from the very same machine. The Bangala Jontro maintained a tremendous role in the literary circles of Dhakaites of old.

Now we will turn our attention to the educational institutes of that time. Dhaka College was founded in 1841, based on the Dhaka Collegiate School. From its inception, the DC was an institute for the elite society and the only place to learn pure English. Its tuition fee a grand total of five takas per month, was way beyond the common pocket, and affordable only by rich patrons.

Fifty years after the founding of Dhaka College, Jagannath College started its journey in 1884 patronised by Kishorilal. Though termed as a second class college and much looked down on by the teachers and students of the DC, it enabled financially less well-off students to avail college education, and thus the JC played an important role in the social renaissance of the East Bengal.

Now let's explore some of the edifices that used to adorn our old Dhaka. The Armenian Church, one of the oldest constructions in this city was built in 1781. The Armenians were a rich and influential community at that time. Here's a story to give you an idea of the extent of their wealth. Ruplal Dash renovated the Ruplal House which he bought from an Armenian. In 1888 the Ruplal House was preferred by an English Lord over the Ahsan Manjil as the venue of a ball. It was hired for two hundred takas for two days, but cost the owners forty five thousand takas to rearrange the house.
In 1901 Dhaka experienced the sparkle of electricity for the first time, sponsored by Nawab Ahsanullah.

Dhaka has a history that is as exciting as it is thought provoking. The more you know about the history of our what is today a mundane Dhaka, fascinating our bustling capital will seem. Indeed, for those who are interested in our culture and heritage, Dhaka between 1800-1900 would indeed be a dream destination!

Source: Dhaka-Smriti Bismritir Nogori (Muntasir Mamun)
By Durdana Ghias

Do it yourself

T-shirt craft

Are you tired of your old boring white T-shirt? Do you think that the old, faded shirt of yours could do with a little colouring? Well, you can easily make it as good as new. T-shirt painting or designing is not a very simple process, but when you look at that shirt you have just turned new, you may think that it is worth it.

First you have to get hold of a T-shirt, that you want to paint. Insert your T-shirt board, or clamp the embroidery hoop to the front of the shirt, making sure that the inner hoop is inside the shirt, and the outer hoop is outside.

You are now ready to prepare your picture and your paints.
If you are using a stencil, pin it to the shirt (inside the boundary of the hoop if you use one). A quick way to transfer a picture that you have already drawn (or a photograph) is to turn it over, and scrub the back of it with vine charcoal or soft lead pencil, covering the entire surface. Then, lay it scrubbed-side-down against the T-shirt, and trace outline of each shape firmly with a ball-point pen. This will press a faint outline of your picture onto the fabric. For your freehand sketch, make sure to press down firmly with the pencil. Make the sketch a bit bigger than you actually want it to be in the finished product, since even pre-shrunk shirts still shrink a bit after repeated washings.

Mix your paints in paper cups, or use a plastic crafter's palette. It looks like an egg crate, with round little wells for each colour. This keeps the paints from running together, and it makes it easier to mix more secondary colours. (Note: If you are confident about your colour-mixing abilities, the most colours that you need to purchase are red, yellow, blue, white, and black. If you don't think you can mix a perfect flesh tone or just the right shade of cerulean blue, then by all means, buy some more secondary and tertiary colours to accommodate the needs of your picture.) Pour or squeeze a small amount of each colour into each well of your palette, and mix it with the fabric medium (this will be a 1:1 ratio of medium to paint colour).

Brushes: You would want to use soft and flexible bristles, made of either natural or synthetic fibre. Avoid the brushes with hard plastic bristles that come in children's painting kits. These are harsh, they don't spread paint colour well across your surface, and they make scratchy lines.

<>Applying Paint to Your Shirt <>
Dip your brush generously, and tap the excess back into the palette. Press the brush firmly with each stroke. You will be able to tell if the paint is penetrating the surface of the fabric. You should still be able to see the texture of the fabric under the colour. If not, you may have used too much. If you can still see the colour of the T-shirt from under your paint, you may want to apply a second coat, making sure to press firmly so it will soak into the fabric more adequately. White paint on dark fabric will usually take a second coat. Some of the lighter shades of yellow will cause the same problem.

Fabric paint needs to be heat-set. Allow the paint to dry and "cure" according to the manufacturer's instructions. Remove the board or hoop and then lay the shirt flat on your ironing board. Cover it with a paper towel or paper bag. Iron it on medium for the length of time specified on the paint container. (This is usually for a minute or two, moving the iron back and forth evenly across the surface, or by holding it in one place for a minute on each section of the picture.)

By Nusrat

Bits & pieces

Flying fiesta!

An Egyptian, a Siberian and a Bangladeshi were all traveling on a plane together. All, claiming to be very patriotic, had a bet that they could tell when the plane passed their country by simply keeping their hand out of the window. A little later the Egyptian withdrew his hand. 'We are passing over my country now', he announced. 'How can you tell?' the others asked. 'Simple,' he replied. 'It's hot outside'. A little later the Siberian withdrew his hand. 'We are passing over my country now', he announced. 'How can you tell?' the others asked. 'Simple,' he replied. 'It's freezing outside'. A little later the Bangladeshi withdrew his hand. 'We are passing over my country now', he announced, 'and it looks like I'm more patriotic than both of you, as I can predict we are right over Gulistan (Dhaka) right now'. 'How can you tell?' the others chorused. 'Simple,' he replied. 'I just lost my watch!'


There were three people on a plane, a school student, a university student and an old teacher, with only two parachutes. Suddenly the pilot announced that the engine was giving trouble and that they'd all have to jump. The school student, being the youngest and swiftest, grabbed one of the parachutes before the other two could even grasp the situation. The remaining two looked at each other in shock. The university student, recovering quickly, looked at the old teacher with overconfidence. 'My dear man,' he said, 'you have already lived your life and grown old. However, I am still young and impatiently anxious to begin my life. So I guess it should be me'. Without waiting for an answer, he then turned around and jumped out of the plane. The school student watched all this in silence. Just before jumping off, he turned around and invited the old man to jump off with him. 'Bur what about the parachute?' the teacher asked. 'It's okay,' the school student assured him. ' By being "impatiently anxious to begin (his) life" the university student jumped off the plane with my school bag!'


A plane was traveling, with a passenger representative from every country. Due to overloading of luggage, the pilot requested everyone to throw off some off their luggage, which was of least importance to them. The representative from South Africa began by taking out gold bars from his luggage, and throwing them out of the plane's window. 'You see,' he explained, 'we have so much gold in our country that we can afford to throw it off like this.' The representative from Sri Lanka followed suit by taking out all the packets of tea from his luggage, and throwing them out. 'You see,' he explained, 'we have so much tea in our country that we can afford to throw it off like this.' The unloading of luggage continued in this manner. When the Bangladeshi's time came, he turned and promptly picking up the passenger sitting next to him, tossed him out of the window. The other passengers gaped at him. 'You see,' he explained, 'we have so many people in our country that we can afford to…'

Complied by Jennifer Ashraf


Let a little boy survive

A little boy struggles hard with this cruel life in a gloomy hospital bed as you read this. The boy is suffering from blood cancer. He is a student of class X in Comilla Zilla School. His name is Aftabul Alom Bhuiyan (Elman). A promising student, he has been awarded scholarships in both Class V and Class VIII. He recently lost his father, and his elder brother, still a student, struggles hard to hold things together. His sister is a student of Shahjalal University, and his other brother studies in Dhaka University. The darkness of the hospital bed engulfs the whole family as they struggle hard to raise expenses for his treatment.

The doctors have recommended that he be transferred to foreign medical facilities as soon as possible, due to lack of proper medical facilities in Bangladesh. This requires money far beyond the family's reach.

The dreams of this little boy are now in your hands.
Please contact, Ph: 0171-120550, 8015173 & 8810040 (Dr. Afikul Islam). Bank
Account: Rasheda Begum, Saving Account No. 21021961, United Commercial Bank
Ltd. Mohakhali Branch, Dhaka.





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