MCC picnic

The Dhaka MCC office family picnic finally happened!  We had heard about this picnic for a long time and how everyone was looking forward to it.  Sometimes all three offices gather for one picnic but this year that didn’t work.  So each office held their own.  We were told that everyone dresses up, there would be games, and lots of food.  All this was true!

Many of the women wear saris or beautiful salwa kameez.  Sally Jo was expected to wear a sari but was given permission to change half way through the day.  There were games for three levels of children and games for the adults (men did musical chairs and women tried to throw a ball in a basket).  And lots of food!  For about 50 people (including children), they cooked 25 lbs of rice, 2 goats, chicken, fish, kebabs, and the inevitable sliced cucumbers, carrots, and tomatoes.  It was excellent food – just a lot!

We all traveled by bus to Sonargaon, the old capital of medieval Bengal.  However, as is so often the case, we had traffic jams and it took 4 ½ hours to go 20 miles and it was hot!  Thankfully, at the end of the day, we had smooth sailing and returned to Dhaka in an hour.

One of the attractions of Sonargaon is its Folk Art Museum located on over 100 acres of land and lakes.  There are two main buildings and many art pieces located across the landscape.  There are exhibits of wooden crafts, brass, bamboo and metal crafts, painted work, musical instruments, pottery, textiles, ornaments and much more.  One of the buildings was closed but we visited the other – along with 100s of local Bangladeshis.  In fact, it was so crowded, we could barely see the exhibits.

Most of the outdoor sculptures are of the Alpana art form, an ancient kind of folk art.  One of the Bangladeshi’s that was with us translated it as “creative burst of mind/emotions.”  It may be an ancient form but it felt contemporary.

Panam Nagar, located not far from the Museum, is a former Hindu settlement dating to the early 13th century.  During British colonial rule and a prosperous cotton textile industry, Panam Nagar became home to upper-middle class Bengali businessmen in the late 1800s.  The migration of the Hindus to India after the Indo-Pak War of 1965 and Muslim-Hindu riot made Panam Nagar into a vacant community.  There are 52 beautiful houses along this one street incorporating European, Mughal, and Bengali architecture.

We all had free time to visit both the Museum and Panam Nagar.  We also had speeches and gifts.  Ron of course needed to make a speech and we both helped distributed flowers and gifts to each family.  It was fun to see spouses and children of our co-workers.

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