When I was watching the frantic traffic on a roundabout near Sadarghat, the ferry terminal of Dhaka, I could not expect that I would be invited to visit the shipyard of the city. But traveling means: being open to the unexpected - and so it was that I accepted the invitation to explore the riverfront. I had just arrived in Dhaka, and knew that the Buriganga river was one of the main arteries of the city, one of the focal points of activities in this city anyway overflowing with energy. We entered one of the many ships that would sail the river that night to one of the cities in the country, and boarded a small wooden boat on the other side.
Traffic on the river was almost as crazy as on the roads of the Bangladeshi capital. Small wooden boats like the one I was one were everywhere, and were dwarfed by bigger boats and large ships that were moored close to the river banks, waiting for their departure later that evening. Once we were on our way, a rhythmic sound was getting always louder - and it was when I looked to the other side of the river that I finally understood where it came from. The repetitive, incessant hammering of metal on metal somehow had a friendly sound to it, and it made clear that we were approaching the large shipyard of Dhaka.
When we toured the banks of the river, visiting some of the ships here where strong men were hammering away on the metal of the big ships under their hands, I could not help but get the impression of having arrived in the 19th century. Bangladeshi men were working long hours in bad conditions here, in the heat and humidity that was already unpleasant for the casual visitor just walking by. No matter the hardness of their job, they always had a friendly smile for that visitor, and I could climb the ships in the shipyard for a better idea of what they were doing, for an overview of the entire shipyard, seeing them wield, paint, construct, break apart, and work on the smaller parts of the ships that one day would be added to the final result. It was as good an introduction of Bangladesh as any: an extremely well-built, hard-working people, never complaining, poor as poor can be, and as friendly as you can imagine. And well, ships are, after all, a very important means of transportation in this country of water.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Dhaka Shipyard (). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Dhaka Shipyard.
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