• Wednesday, March 04, 2015

A city under sodium lights

By M H Haider
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed

Is Dhaka, geographically speaking, a very big city? It is in fact the eighth largest city in the world, and given the traffic, moving from point A to point B during the day can be very time-consuming.

However, driving around the streets of Dhaka at night can be an intriguing experience. It can be an alternative nightlife you can opt to enjoy. Of course, there are restaurants and five-star hotels you would want to try out after a long day. But reserve a night to go out on a drive. Rent a car, or even better, ask your host to lend their car and join you in the ride.
Enjoy driving around empty streets and highways; swiftly through the deserted roads that have kept you waiting during the day.  Fly up through the newly built flyovers and bridges.    
Hatirjheel, a rather large scale network of several roads and bridges built surrounding a lake, is a pleasant trip even during the day -- and most definitely at night. With brilliantly illuminated streets and colourful lights that change every now and then, it has some of the smoothest roads in the country, a few street-side eateries and a very relaxing environment with benches for you to sit on. With beautiful greenery and a lake at its centre, this is a popular hangout for locals as well as tourists.
If you are hungry for more, drive to Karwan Bazaar (near Sonargaon Hotel) after midnight. Being a huge wholesale kitchen market, more known for its wholesale vegetables and fish market, the place becomes very active from midnight. Trucks and vans arrive from different parts of the country. The deeper the night gets, the more active the place becomes. Long before 'Fajr' (morning) prayers, retailers from different areas of Dhaka gather in the market to buy goods for the coming day.
The busy crowd, the tireless activities of labourers, the unique auction of hilsa fish and the unloading of commodities out of the trucks -- all team up to form a bazaar bustling with life throughout the night.      
To support this market, numerous tiny tea-stalls also remain open 24/7. The street-side tea stalls or 'tong' in the common tongue, are found throughout the city, and are very popular. So make sure to stop for a cup of hot, steaming and poisonously sweet tea if you are feeling sleepy at the late hours. Even if you were looking for a heavier meal, nocturnal Dhaka will not disappoint. There are a few eateries that remain open most of the night.
But if you want a grand treat, try out Nazira Bazaar, situated in Old Dhaka, a locality that hardly ever sleeps. From tehari and biriyani to kebabs and chicken tandoori -- the tireless restaurants at Nazira Bazaar won't let you down.      
Through the narrow streets of Old Dhaka -- some hauntingly silent and some surprisingly busy -- reach Buriganga River to see the sunrise. Even at such odd hours, you would find the terminals busy with launches, with a relentless rush of the boarding and 'unboarding' of passengers and goods alike.  
Finally, a red sun lends its colours to an old and much abused river, yet making a splendid view of sunrise with boats tiny and large.
It's not a new beginning, but perhaps a new chapter.


Published: 12:00 am Tuesday, February 11, 2014

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