A sea of people and waves of dust, a booming voice over the PA system that keeps reminding you of the impenetrability of Alimama Doors, or maybe it’s a random couple arguing over which way a certain pavilion is. The Dhaka International Trade Fair (DITF) induces many different memories in people, but here are some experiences at DITF that I think unites the unfortunate beings that call Dhaka their home.
There’s always an overwhelming crowd in DITF, everyone’s wearing similar looking winter-clothing, and the shops often have some very distracting products on display, so it’s easy to get lost. I remember the toy stores that had cricket supplies on display just outside the store and that is usually enough to separate me from any group. I’m not saying this happened to me but one might end up following their mother for over an hour until they were too tired and wanted to go home, only to realise the person they were following wasn’t their mother but just some lady in the same off-white shawl. Seriously, it could happen to anyone.
Buying too much biscuit, chocolate, and chocolate biscuit
I don’t know about other people but the food pavilions are THE major attraction for me at DITF. Some of these pavilions will sell stuff you don’t usually find at your local convenience store, and although it’s clear within a week why that’s the case, impulse buying is a dangerous beast. You will seldom feel the inclination to buy multiple tins of assorted biscuits other than when you’re at DITF.
Same things at different stores
I’m sure no one does this but imagine if someone decided to learn about the cultures of the world from the various international pavilions at DITF. I mean, is Delhi a place where they mass produce intricate-ish looking aluminium products? If so, how is it different from the Thai variety? Is it just a Banijjo Mela thing or do Pakistani, Iranian, and Turkish goods have a lot in common? Did I see this Kashmiri shawl in New Market a month ago?
Having overpriced unhealthy food
When I was young, I used to think that when I’d get older, I’d just grab all of my money, go to the field where DITF takes place, walk around all the entrances without going into the actual venue, and spend all my money on deep fried shrimp heads. A bigger fantasy was that I’d walk into one of the many “traditional” biriyani houses and have half a plate for 500 bucks. I’m older now, and I’ve given up on only one of these fantasies.
To be fair, DITF, like most things in Dhaka, is a thing that happens that’s not particularly good, but we let Stockholm syndrome get the best of us and pretend to like it anyway. At least it’ll be over soon.