Guest Blog: The “Real” Bangladesh

Posted by on July 4th, 2013

Paola Fornari Hanna, a professional linguist, writer, and trainer and wife of the European Union Ambassador in Bangladesh, recently participated in the Panigram Apprenticeship Experience with her sister, Silvia. She enjoyed her stay so much that she was inspired to write a blog entry for us; we are very happy to publish it!

The Real Bangladesh

Recently my sister Silvia, who lives in Houston, Texas, came to stay. She was our very first visitor in two and a half years in Bangladesh, and was as determined to see, feel and breathe as much of the real Bangladesh as I was to show her.

I had read about the Panigram Apprenticeship Experience, and it seemed to be exactly what we were looking for, so we signed up.  And for three days and two nights, it was one exciting sensory experience after another. Like blissful children, we got filthy mixing mud (and learnt to add jute to strengthen it for fixing cracks).

Mixing Mud Mortar

We built mud brick walls, and chopped bricks into smaller pieces to fit into awkward places, jigsaw-style.

Building a Mud House

We learnt to make bamboo chic, from identifying the right sort of bamboo (tholli-dash) to weaving it as tightly as we could, to signing the finished article.

Making Bamboo Chik Screens

In fact, we enjoyed working so much that it was difficult to drag us away from our activities.

But there was plenty of time to relax, too.

Relaxing in the Hammock

We took walks into the village, and were always accompanied by villagers, eager to chat, and to welcome us into their homes.

One day lunch was served on banana leaves in a local homestead. In the verandah, sitting on the ground, we learnt to eat delicious organic food with our fingers, careful not to get our fingers dirty beyond the second knuckle.

Lunch in a Bangladeshi Villager's Home

We admired the scenery from a goru-gari

Bangladesh Cow Cart Ride

and a vangari

Bangladesh Vangari Ride

and went on a ride on a wooden boat at night, with fireflies surrounding us like fairy lights, and sparkling fish leaping over us.

I will be back at Panigram, to do everything I didn’t have time for, and to check that my bricks and signed bamboo chic are firmly in place!

Thanks, Kristin, for a unique and extraordinary experience.

–Paola Fornari Hanna

3 Responses to “Guest Blog: The “Real” Bangladesh”

  1. ashraf farok says:

    Dear Kristin, Thank you for a unique and extraordinary experience you provided and displayed for the whole world! A Farok.

  2. Chris Nedahl says:

    Paola, such an insight into life in Bangladesh. Your words always portray a sense of the place or situation you write about. Your photographs too, are so telling.

  3. Architect Manzur Alahee says:

    The Photographs tell us the fairytale of Bangle . Everyone can realize and enjoy basic living of Bangladesh with the visual,tactile, hearing & Smell.Such a job you have done through Panigram How can be a community and cultural conservation possible with concept of sustainability… it is a case study . AS a Bangladeshi , I really proud of U.
    All the best of PANIGRAM family.

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