The Liva Collective

presents

BANG BANG BANGLA!

Chapter 2

The necessary processing of an overwhelming experience

Text and photographs by Bartolomeo Pampaloni

 

In the Park, Comilla

Part Two

My Venture into the Countryside

After a few days in Dhaka, we decided to visit Comilla, 100km south of Dhaka, 4km away from the Indian border, a small provincial city (or so we thought) known for its ruins of Buddhist temples.

woman collecting garbage on the side of the road

During the next four hours we became face-to-face with death on the most chaotic road you could ever imagine. The only lane in each direction was filled with at least three different rows of vehicles of any kind and any dimension among which our bus (the only one with air conditioning that did not look like a refurbished one), seems to have, or pretends to have, absolute priority. It makes its way constantly sounding the horn on the fast lane, until: 5,4,3,2 meters before a head-on collision with another bus or truck and… here we go!

A sudden swing of the wheel and the bus turns in the last moment. If you wish to obtain a degree of tranquility, you must not look to the front of you, or to the side: every meter there’s a scene, something happening, an apparition.

accident on the road to Comilla

Because in Bangladesh life passes by more densely and each day counts at least for three, with all the things you see, you hear, you experience.

woman looking from a bus

Life here is a sweaty, smelly, perpetual exhaustion of the flesh and the senses, so that nothing is accumulated inside, everything constantly flows and doesn’t have time to stop, to get inside, like it does in the cities of the West, where thoughts get heavy and dusty, inside of all those overcrowded craniums where we keep on hiding and piling up all the moves of our restless and solitary minds.

street kids in Comilla

street kids in Comilla

When we finally arrived in Comilla, the bus dropped us off at a dusty and crowded crossroad, where life flowed in that strange constant mix of frenzy and inner calm that never leaves you, no matter where you are.

vendor in Comilla market

The temples we came to see were not there anymore, only the bricks in the foundations, the same bricks you see piling up under the chimneys at the sides of the streets.

 

the projectionist assistant loading film, Comilla

“After the fight with a three inches cockroach that was hiding under Enrico’s bed, we go out to taste the city’s nightlife. The traffic seems to never wanting to calm down and even the brief downpour of 7 p.m. didn’t help cooling off the temperature not even a bit. After dinner our curiosity gets us inside of a movie theater, in which we find ourselves being stared by hundreds of eyes, but nobody dare to speak to us. The room is impressive, comparable to a Cinecittà studio: 500 places in the stalls, the half in the gallery, that covers a third of the room, which ceiling, impressively high, gets lost in the dark where, at about 15 meters of height, suspended in the air, the old and only light bulb lights up the surrounding with its dim rays. The scraped walls, the old half broken fans, the gigantic screen and the fast Indian beat that from the gigantic speakers resonates in all the room, it all contributes to create this atmosphere of a mythological time where, inside of the arcane huge cave, coagulate the images of the underworld to come, purified, bleached and intact – and, in the womb of this immense sleeping whale, its preys let themselves be taken with complicity and enthusiasm for three hours, resting the eyes and the ears for 40 cents a screening.

the projectionist, Comilla

Part III : Chittagong

Finally we arrive in the actual contryside

 

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