I spend another day driving north through the biliard table that is rural Bangladesh. For 400 km the view from the bus has remained amazingly constant. Gloriously lush, green paddy fields of rice stretch away. It is easy to forget that this green carpet grows in the shallow water that lies across this flatness. The only clues are the gushing pipes of the irrigation systes and the regular sighting of kingfishers balanced on poles seeking their next meal from the watery lines. In some areas the crop changes and the landscape becomes more patchwork but still neat & tidily organised, even manicured. Wheat stands at an even height in tight rectangles, bananas grow in compact rows, maize stands to attention
like regiments and even the drying tobacco is hung like granny’s tea towels in neat lines for kilometres on either side of the road.
So how does this place work? Basically it is all based on manpower. In rural areas everything, and I mean everything, is done by hand. Any ploughing, planting or weeding or harvesting or sacking or loading is all done by manual labour. When transportation is required, to take crops, goods, livestock to and from market, then vehicles are used – hugely overpacked lorries, tops of buses, rickshaws some batery powered, some larger motorised ones like mini toy town trucks and many that still require a man to exert huge energy to get those pedals moving under such weights, all with flat beds of about a metre or two square that carry mountains of rice straw and bulging sacks of rice and 20m lengths of bamboo and 3 score and 10 bricks.
I arrive in a group and walk down the drag. We take & share photos of the locals. The locals take & share photos of us whitey tourists. Lots of smiles & laughter & posing. A great time is had by all.
I get the opportunity to walk through a village and to chat with the locals. The ladies drying out the rice show off their team work and the local boys test out their knots.
I do visit a site although, as always, it is the local people that steal the show. I’ll show it to you anyway. Kantanagar temple, a Hindu, temple, is built of brick & terracotta and every inch is beautifully embellished with exquisite plaques depicting flora & fauna & social & religious themes.
And who is this having his lunch?