The People of Bangladesh.
by Simon Urwin
I flew to Bangladesh to escape another dreary Christmas and New Year at home in London.
Walking out of the airport it soon became clear this was going to be a festive season unlike any other. I was met by a wall of noise with energy crackling through the air like a thunderstorm was about to hit. The reality was a national strike complete with demos, riot police and 3 people already dead.
Over the next couple of weeks, while families back home were decorating the tree and falling out over turkey dinner, I travelled between the sweaty mosh pit of a capital, up to the serene tea estates of Srimangal and down to the kidnap-and-insurgent territory of the Chittagong Hill Tracts.
My Christmas Day was spent in the slums and the genuine highlight of New Year’s Eve was lying in a carpet of cow shit photographing a kid brushing his teeth at a water pump.
Every day was like being punched in the face and kicked in the shins with a total assault on the senses. The endless noise gave you tinnitus, while every direction you turned burnt an image onto the eyeballs. It was thrilling – like being plugged into the mains.
Over in the tanneries district of Dhaka, a rickshaw driver named Mohammed provided the photographic finale. Talking about the passengers he has to carry, he also delivered the quote of the trip: “fat one, thin one, or fat one with 10 wardrobes, it’s all down to luck.”
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