People you see at Banijjo Mela
If someone tells you amusement parks are never designed for adults, they've never been to the Banijjo Mela or the Dhaka International Trade Fair (DITF). The new permanent venue is more refined than the makeshift ones at Agargaon but has the same bizarre energy that makes the Banijjo Mela so unique. The next time you visit, keep your eyes peeled for these sights and make the best out of your visit to the trade fair.
If the Met Gala is the pinnacle of western fashion, Banijjo Mela is its Bangladeshi counterpart. People are truly colourful, and their creative outlet of choice is clothing. Middle-aged men in three-piece suits two sizes too small are just the tip of the iceberg.
Banijjo Mela fashion entails everything from tiaras made of flowers and turquoise bejewelled abays to full-fledged bridal looks. Similarly, men dress up in double-breasted suits, bright graphic shirts, muddy yellow flannels, distressed jeans, and a blazer and decide to call it a day.
Bangladeshi people treat bargaining like an Olympic sport. Unfortunately for them, until the International Olympic Committee (IOC) officially recognises bargaining as a sport, they have to watch people rupture their foreheads trying to shave BDT 500 off Kashmiri three-pieces and three-button suits.
Retail prices are merely a formality and will be treated as such by buyers. Some customers will browse through endless pieces of clothing and then only offer to pay one-tenth of the price and walk off hoping to secure a deal but to no avail. Others will come within inches of violence with foreign shopkeepers who communicate in neither English nor Bangla.
Either way, expect to see numerous Tarantino-esque showdowns between stallkeepers and patrons.
A nasty byproduct of TikTok and YouTube's local popularity is that people will always be filming. Any public place now feels like a fortress tightly guarded by filming cell phones. Bought to you by 4G internet packs, Jannatul Ferdows can show her Kuwait-expatriate husband the ruby ring she's buying.
Similarly, you'll see RJ Onik strutting like he's on the runway for his next viral TikTok. On the flip side, Bangladeshi vlogger Doyel is filming for her channel. Elsewhere, every random man from their late teens to early twenties is busy filming every square inch of the fair.
So, unless you want to appear on some random stranger's content somewhere on the internet, you should exercise caution.
Fake Turkish booths
Two words – Hurrem Sultan. It's been seven years since Sultan Suleiman graced tens of millions of TV sets throughout Bangladesh. Hurrem Sultan rose as a figure influential enough to rival Princess Diana and has been used as a ploy by "Turkish" stall owners to attract customers.
Numerous booths are chock full of Turkish lamps, Nazar amulets, and carpets with the sellers claiming that they are original products imported from Türkiye. Upon further inspection, you can see that many such top-tier commodities are actually rejected products from local markets with a 10x markup.
But that doesn't deter middle-aged customers from buying cheap Turkish nesting bowls and having an impromptu photoshoot under the multicoloured overhead lamps.
After soaking in all the fine sights, epilepsy-inducing crowds, and incomprehensible dubstep music that DITF has to offer, just beware of the people in the shadows answering nature's call because they couldn't find the restrooms.
Turns out Taaseen Mohammed Islam can write semi-decently at the expense of being able to do basic math. Send him pointers at [email protected]