Monday, March 1

Happy Holi: Healing Our Skin Disease

Happy Holi--only one street participates: Shankharia Bazar. Nicknamed 'Hindu Street,' there is one street that you can buy all things Hindu. The first day is calm, walking in and out of temples, getting our faces fondled by gentle mothers offering flowers to the gods. We buy bags of Holi powder and return the welcoming gestures.

But today, it's roped off to make sure that no one ignorantly wanders through the street.. you will not come out clean. Little boys pop out of small alleys with water bottles filled with paint and used as pistols to christen us in pure white. The boys are fully painted with colors and have cruelty in their eyes that reminded me of Halloween: the camouflaged opportunity to reek havoc on whomever you want. Residents from balconies are pouring buckets of colored water onto our entire bodies. Then the rotten eggs and tomatoes come out, injuries gonads and causing nausea. Seeking refuge, we find our way down a pitch black alley to a water pump with a kind family sharing their soap. We emerged, to be plastered with green, red, purple and blue as we all danced in the street to Bollywood music.

After 40 minutes of trying to convince a rickshaw to take us home dressed as ghosts, we laughed at ourselves and the, literally, thousands of people laughing at us. In Hindu Kolkata, everyone gets painted.. but Muslim Dhaka, it's quite a surprise to see three women sitting on a rickshaw, wet and greenish-blue. Laughing and singing the whole way home and trying to convince people we have a skin disease, we scrubbed our bodies as clean as we could with coconut oil and soap. The marks are still there, but we survived.

This rebirth would have never taken place without my citadel of amazing friends: Abdul, Dola and Saba. Thank you for everything--your personalities are no less vibrant than our newly dyed outfits!! And always--chodmarani, chodir bhai, chuida bole, chudi ney !!!


  1. Hi,

    Came across your blog a few weeks back. It's good to see an expat's view of Dhaka.

    I get to live and see Dhaka vicariously though you. Unfortunately I could never stay in Bangladesh/Dhaka long enough to enjoy all the fun.

    I see you're picking up swear words too...

    Looking forward to your next post.


  2. You should have taken a before and after pic of you and Abdul. I love that picture of the two of you in white!! Wow what a great commercial for Tide, in reverse. This comes from the little girl that wouldn't help me plant vegetables. If I remember you said "Duh, Princesses don't get their hands dirty"! Love Mommy

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