Letter from America
Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed
The Daily Star –Fri. August 13, 2004
Dr Fakhruddin Ahmed is a noted economist, civil servant, and a former governor of the Bangladesh Bank. He was appointed as the Chief Adviser (Head of the Government) of the caretaker government of Bangladesh on 12 January 2007. The following excerpt is part of his memoir from Dhaka and Ahsan Manzil visit as a WB official in 2004.
During the writer’s just concluded five-week sojourn in Bangladesh this July-August, once again the writer was reminded of how inexpensive most things are in Bangladesh compared to America. At several traffic lights at Dhaka, for instance, the writer was accosted with hawkers shoving pirated copies Bill Clinton’s autobiography in the writer’s face for less than Taka 200, approximately one tenth of what it costs here. Out of journalistic curiosity I asked a hawker to name the book. “My Life,” he answered, and I am sure if I had queried him further he would have added, “Monicar Kotha Aache, Sir!”……
In all of my years at Dhaka I had never visited two of the most famous historical monuments of Dhaka the Lalbagh Fort and Ahsan Manzil. ……We were fortunate enough to tour the Ahsan Manzil by the river Buriganga in the company of Dr. Nazimuddin Ahmed. Ahsan Manzil is the residence-office complex of Dhaka’s Nawab family. This is where Nawab Salimullah hosted the likes of Lord Curzon (after whom Dhaka University’s science complex “Curzon Hall” is named), and such meetings had a lot to do with the establishment of Dhaka University, East Pakistan, and finally Bangladesh. Ahsan Mazil has been restored due to the foresight of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the acquiring of the property during General Ershad’s time and renovation work under the guidance of Dr. Enamul Haque. Ahsan Manzil too is the largest open space around the river Buriganga. The admission fee is Taka 2, and once again it was wonderful to see thousands of Bangladeshis visiting one of their most famous historic sites.
It has been a long time since I stayed for full five weeks in Bangladesh. All other recent visits have been much shorter and during winter. As I went around Dhaka and visited our ancestral home near Feni, I felt an intense sense of kinship with everyone. I genuinely sensed that the street urchin, the rickshawala, the men in fancy cars and the pretty girls in the shopping malls were a part of who I am. And I felt pretty good about it.