And what is Ijtema?

Mr Forhad is tilting his head and gently brushing one hand with the other. He’s worried. I’m not, I have a 1.40pm flight tomorrow, I’ve been looked after like a prince here at the ‘Pacific Inn’, and I can enjoy the internet and the cable – Al Jazeera and the Aussie Open tennis til I’m good and ready to go.

‘No. You must leave before six’. What?!?

‘A big jam. If you do not, you may not get there’.

Dhaka is the global capital for jams. Getting across town to Grameen each day – a few kilometres – has been a challenging. And going to the film festival downtown has been an ordeal. Thank god petrol is banned here. The dust and lurching chaos is truly brain bending.

‘There will be 2 million people. All walking there. If you go too late, you will be carried along in the crowd’.

‘The human river’, I suggest.

‘Yes, yes’, Mr Forhad is delighted by simple metaphor.

Turns out it’s Ijtema, the second biggest muslim festival in the world. A kind of big day out — or three days out — of praying. Politics is not welcome. Some say they get 3 million. Everyone camps out and prays. Hope I make it …

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  • Photograph of Aknorm: click for her story
    Aknorm, duck eggs and microfinance, Siem Reap, 2008.