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Where Dread Meets Charm

Artist Blog by Azad Amin

Dhaka is one of the most densely populated and also one of the poorest cities of the world. It is an enormously noisy and chaotic place, bubbling with energy. The dark stinky Buriganga river and the garbage dumps everywhere may overwhelm the visitors at first sight but Dhaka's charm starts to show itself when you go into the back of one of its myriad colorful cycle rickshaws and see the various gaudy local dresses, clothes, walls and shops. Dhaka has a spiritual side as well. The architecture of Hindu temples and Muslim mosques and their thriving arts are something you will always remember. Dhaka is not without social challenges. There is an extreme contrast in social classes in this city. There are lots of luxurious skyscrapers and on the other hand, many people are living in slums. The contrast of Dhaka's industrialized appearance like baking brick factories, coal extractions, and leather sewing working places to its marvelous environment with exotic trees and rivers along the city is something not easily seen in any other place in the world.

The polarization between the rich and the poor is widening and squatters are swamping Dhaka. Half of Dhaka's population lives in ramshackle one or two-room houses made of crude brick, straw, recycled plastic, cement blocks, and scrap wood. They end up in areas directly adjacent to garbage dumps, toxic chemical industries, sewage treatment plants, and freeway crossings.

The slum dwellers are suffering from these environmental hazards while simultaneously compounding them by encroaching on the riverbanks and green spaces. The slums are not connected to the municipal sewage system and there is no garbage collection. Slum dwellers cook on open charcoal stoves or use dung and fuel wood which exude noxious fumes in poorly ventilated homes. These days everything is changing rapidly and this series has recorded a part of the history of this part of the earth through its express alternation.

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