A trip is incomplete without the requisite shopping, especially souvenirs. In a place like Dhaka it can be quite difficult to decide just what exactly bears a true reflection of Bangladesh; there are so many shops selling imported items. A lot of times visitors confuse Bangladeshi products with those of our neighbouring countries, but there are some very big differences in the smallest things, so beware or you might miss out!
Here's a checklist of Dhaka's special things you should definitely make some space for in your suitcase.
A trip anywhere in South Asia is incomplete without this lovely item, and Dhaka boasts special types of saris you won't find anywhere else in the world. Head to Mirpur Benarasi Palli, a shopping hub for quality traditional silks like Katan and Benarasi at unbeatable prices; and make sure you splurge on (at least) one Jamdani sari (a time-honoured weave found only in the outskirts of Dhaka) from places like Aarong, Tangail Saree Kutir or Kumudini, three of the most renowned boutiques selling quality saris.
Gentlemen, honestly speaking, a lungi is the most comfortable piece of clothing for men out there, and if you don't try it, you are missing out. If nothing else, at least you can wear it in a costume party and get a few laughs from your friends. Aarong hosts some quality lungis.
Bangladesh's favourite mode of transport and the livelihood of millions, a rickshaw showpiece is a must for anybody who wants to carry a piece of Dhaka with them. Craft stores like Jatra, Aarong and others will have rickshaws aplenty for sure.
While a showpiece is necessary, rickshaw art deserves its own mention. Depicting actors, animals and flowers in psychedelic colours, here in Dhaka we salute rickshaw artists and take great pride in their art. Jatra has the best collection of rickshaw art in anything and everything, starting from notebooks to furniture to mirrors.
Something with Bengali on it
A mug with the alphabet, or a T-shirt with a famous phrase ... Bengali is the only language in the world for which souls were martyred right here in Dhaka. Our fierce love for our mother tongue is the reason UNESCO celebrates International Mother Language Day every year. So make sure you take something away to remember this eloquent language.
The beautiful, intricate embroidery depicting everyday scenes of a villager's life on brightly coloured cotton is a Bangladeshi specialty. Practiced in rural Bengal for centuries, it is a signature piece you must take away with you in the form of either bed spread, wall hanging or bag, to name a few. You can find these at Aarong, Deshi Dosh at Basundhara Shopping Complex, Panthapath.
Take photos. Write your journals. Speak to people. Globetrotters will readily attest to you that Dhaka is one of the most interesting cities in the world, and in every corner there is a story to be told. Don't fall victim to your air conditioned hotel room or a coffee shop in Gulshan. We may not be the richest, or the tidiest, or the calmest city ... but when it comes to personality, there are few places in the world that can beat our beloved Dhaka.