Tomomi Kawai / Marubeni Corporation Dhaka Office
Dhaka here is the capital of Bangladesh. Bangla means Bengalese people, and desh means nation. Bangladesh is surrounded by India, and Dhaka is located very nearly in the center of Bangladesh. The metropolitan area has a population of 20 million (with a total national population of 160 million). The name Dhaka derives from a famous Hindu temple called Dhakeshwari, and which still exists in the Old Town.
Bangladeshis like to talk, so once they get going, they never stop. Bangladeshis also like Japan. Ever since their independence in 1971, Bangladesh has enjoyed friendly relations with Japan on every level—including diplomatic, economic, and cultural aspects—and Bangladeshis are very kind to Japanese people. While the Japanese national flag has a red circle on a white field, the Bangladeshi national flag has a red circle on a green field. Some say that the Bangladeshis, who are so fond of Japan, emulated the Japanese national flag.
Dhaka is hot and humid nearly all year round, so you sweat profusely just by moving around outdoors. A large cyclone hits once every few years, and even Dhaka is flooded, causing significant damage to people, crops, and property.
The people of Dhaka — who suffer the damage of these fierce cyclones — are sturdy and energetic, and they serve as the driving force behind the development of the nation. When you go out into the city, the flood of people and cars that you encounter is overwhelming. During the morning and evening rush, the streets are filled with women dressed in colorful traditional clothing on their way to work at textile factories, deeply suntanned drivers peddling their rickshaws, and impossibly crowded buses. I am a bundle of nerves as people and vehicles go in whatever direction they like, but incredibly there are not many traffic accidents. It seems there is some kind of method to the madness in driving here.
Although the image of an impoverished Bangladesh remains, the capital Dhaka is most certainly developing. There are more and more nice cars, the streets have been improved, and the construction of reinforced steel/steel frame buildings abounds these days. Western fast food has also arrived, and these restaurants are filled with young people.
Alongside these examples of the economic growth and modernization underway in Bangladesh, facets of a slower-paced past remain, such as the many people who use rickshaws as a part of their daily lives. Numerous religious institutions also create a relaxed atmosphere. When it is time to pray, you can hear the adhan call to prayer coming from the mosques of the national religion, Islam. With its mix of the new and the traditional, Dhaka is a city with a bright future of exciting development.
Marubeni Group magazine "M-SPIRIT" VOL.54 (November, 2009)