The baby cyclo ride is as aggressive as ever, with many “OMG we’re getting real close to that” moments. Eventually we made it to Old Dhaka, our desired hang out spot for the day. Clearly our rickshaw ride yesterday hadn’t actually gone into Old Dhaka, but just around it. I stare, wide-eye, at the scenes unrolling around me. The road is tiny, hardly large enough to hold two rickshaw side-by-side. Tiny shops are everywhere. Horses are chewing on hay. Old men sell fruits. Garbage piles up everywhere. Travis looks at me and asks me on which planet we are.
We get dropped off a block from our restaurant du jour, a supposedly perfect example of old-style eatery. The place is brimming with life, and we are offered a choice of chicken or lamb. We order lamb and naan – I just can’t get enough of it! The lamb turns out to be a giant bone with some meat on it – a bit hard to eat, unless you get neanderthal on it (as some other customers were doing – remember, here you are supposed to eat with your hands). Unfortunately the meat was at room temperature, and pretty hard to eat. It wasn’t the best meal we’ve had, and it was expensive to boot (at just under $3).
We decide to walk to Hindu St, advertised as a colourful, photogenic street. They were not lying, but the twisty, skinny roads leading to it are pretty amazing too.
We found a Hindu ceremony going on, and got blessed with a weird beige paste applied to our forehead and neck. People smile at us, say hello, ask where we are from.
And finally, Hindu Street.
We stumbled upon Ahsan Manzil, the Pink Palace, and go in. Everyone is dressed in their best sari or salwar kalmeez for the celebration of the first day of spring. Many wear clothes in the obligatory yellow or orange colour, and wear flowers (often marigolds) in their hair. I definitively need to hit the markets and buy new clothes!
While we sit on the steps to rest, a young street girl comes and stands beside us. Travis thinks she’s giving us an evil look, but I think she’s seizing us up. She looks at everyone the same way, in a surprisingly very wise way. At first she’s shy, but I can tell she is very special. Eventually she runs down the steps and starts running around the grass, like the happiest kid in the world.
She deices to come back, this time with her two brothers, just to show me. And then she starts talking, non-stop, as though I understand. We’re jaded, and so at first we think she wants money. We offer her some sweets (pastries) we had just bought; she says no but takes them anyway. She runs down the stairs, where she shares them with her family. They all take a tiny bite and then she runs to the gate to hand off the rest to a lady on the outside of the complex. I figure that she’s part of a street gang, and needs to share her finds.
Later she finds me again, and demands that I take her photo with her brothers. She just talks and talks, and seems to be explaining that she gave the sweets to her mom. She’s the cutest girl ever! She has so little yet she seems so oblivious to her condition and so incredible happy hand carefree.
Just before we leave, we see her again, playing in the grass. I just adore her. She waves at us, clearly she likes us now. Again she chatters away and I’m sad to waive goodbye. I want to take her with me!