I would love to write this post in Bengali, but most of my readers will not understand, so here is your truly writing in universal language ! Bangladesh is close to my heart, because it has been my ancestors’ home. They eat like us, talk like us , feel like us and speak my mother tongue ..what else you want in a foreign country 🙂 So, when I could visit chittagong or chottogram for some office work, I was more than happy. I knew our host for 3 years as an wonderful person and guiding senior colleague, so knew that the stay would be smooth. My boss is an US citizen now, but he is an expat, basically a bong. So, it was a very Bengali trip.. food and “adda” : the typical gossip and chat in bengali 🙂
I told my office to book a flight I found in google, a direct one. I never heard of the airline, but thought would avoid the lay over. It was an ok flight and smooth immigration. My host sent a car with one of his student, who took us directly to the boat club, on the bank of ” Kornofuli” river. It is just adjacent to the port, which is the biggest in Bangladesh. It was high tide and many big cargo ships were finding their way to the port. They are from china, Japan, middle east, south east Asia and so on . It was an interesting sight which you can enjoy while eating in the boat club restaurant. It is also one of the best place to stay in Chittagong, though far from the city, but very close to airport.
After the awesome sea food experience , we went to our hotel which is central in the city. We stayed in hotel Pavillion, rooms are huge and good wifi. Breakfast is minimum though, but it was closer to our meeting venue, so my boss booked it. In the evening, our host came to give us a tour over the city, all its prominent historical points and newest bridge over the Kornofuli river. Then we met his family and hopped in a local handicraft boutique called ” Aarong”. It has a varied stock of alloy crafts, stuffed toys, hand woven works, jewellery , decor and “nakshi kantha” which is a social crafted clothing from Bengal. The word “kantha” originally suggests a light quilt for mild winters .The quilting represents the cultural identity and folk art of Bengal along with being a functional commodity. “It is essentially a women’s art as kantha art emerged out of the creative expressions of rural women as gifts for loved ones. Each of these kanthas represents the contents of a woman’s mind and is filled with romance, sentiment and philosophy.”
Bengalis are famous for their hospitality and no exception in Chittagong. We were not allowed to pay a penny anywhere and experienced new new food porn every day. First day, we had dinner in Chittagong club. I am so sorry that I forgot to take picture on that day. We had white rice, dahl (lentil soup) , chignri -bharta( boiled mashed prawn with onion & chilli), alu bharta (spicy mashed potato), suntki bharta (dry fish fried and mashed with onion & chilli), tomato bharta ( mashed tomato with onion ), mutton curry, fried Pomfret and ripe papaya juice as desert . The food was awesome, and it was stupid of me not to take pics . I totally recommend Chittagong club for staying and food, though not sure without membership it is accessible. We were lucky our host is a member. Next night dinner got more adventurous with ” Mejjan” which is a local cuisine served when merman or “guest” visits someone . In big vessels, rice, beef and dahl are cooked and served together to all the guests.
Chottogram has an unforgettable history of revolution against British invasion in undivided India. Masterda(Teacher) Surya Sen headed the movement leading the 1930 Chittagong armoury raid in Chittagong. The plan was elaborate and included seizing of arms from the armoury as well as destruction of communication system of the city (including telephone, telegraph and railway), thereby isolating Chittagong from the rest of India. Unfortunately they failed to get the ammunition. They hoisted the Indian National Flag on the premises of the armoury, and then escaped. A few days later, a large fraction of the revolutionary group was cornered in the nearby Jalalabad hills by the British troops. In the ensuing fight, twelve revolutionaries died, many were arrested, while some managed to flee, including Sen. Sen stayed in hiding, and kept moving from one place to another. Sometimes he took up a job as a workman, a farmer, a priest, a house worker or even as a pious Muslim, avoiding being captured by the British. He once hid in the house of a man called Netra Sen who gave him up. Before Netra Sen could be rewarded by the British, a revolutionary came into his house and beheaded him with da (a long knife). Before Sen was hanged, he was brutally tortured by the British. The British executioners broke all his teeth with a hammer, and pulled out all his nails. They broke all his limbs and joints. He was dragged to the rope unconscious. His last letter was written to his friends and said: “Death is knocking at my door. My mind is flying away towards eternity …At such a pleasant, at such a grave, at such a solemn moment, what shall I leave behind you? Only one thing, that is my dream, a golden dream-the dream of Free India…. Never forget the 18th of April,1930, the day of the eastern Rebellion in Chittagong… Write in red letters in the core of your hearts the names of the patriots who have sacrificed their lives at the altar of India’s freedom.”
During 1971, chottogram took an important part in ” Bhasha Andolon” ( Revolution against Pakistan army who tried to abolish the Bengali language). I am really lucky that I was able to visit this city, which has been a part of history, a voice against wrong throughout the history of this subcontinent .
Food is good, but people are even better here 🙂 I plan to go back one day …
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