A good tenacious nation built on shape-shifting land

Image: Collected
In the highland hinterlands of subtropical Sylhet, a city in north-eastern Bangladesh known because of its lush tea gardens, getting to school requires a lot more than just waking up promptly.

"I remember we used to cross a bridge and it got washed away every other time," said Dr Monjour Mourshed, professor of sustainable engineering at Cardiff University who grew up in Bangladesh. "We [the village children] were used to it; we'd just discover a different path."

But also fascinating compared to the constantly altering college route is the calmness with which he acknowledged it. Mourshed's encounter is the norm, certainly not the exception, as Sylhet's geomorphology is at the mercy of frequent switch. "A mound of land in the floodplain of the Surma River... Sylhet inhabits nature-on-the-approach," writes Dr David Ludden, professor of record at New York University and former president of the Association for Asian Analyses, in a 2003 paper that underscores the temporal mother nature of the scenery. "Tectonic shifts continue steadily to lift up the highlands and depress the deepest-flooding 'haor' basins [large, shallow, saucer-shaped depressions]... Thumping earthquakes periodically destabilise water's proven pathways."

Bangladesh all together is "nature-on-the-move", its liquid geography the consequence of just about the most dynamic and comprehensive river networks on the globe. The deltaic nation is literally a by-merchandise of the rivers' functions: a giant sandbox produced by millennia of alluvial deposits by the ever-moving waters of the mighty Brahmaputra-Jamuna, Padma (the Ganges) and Meghna rivers. About 80% of the country involves floodplains, and a fresh island - Bhasan Char, nowadays the controversial residence of thousands of Rohingya refugees - was produced by enormous plenty of Himalayan silt from the Meghna River previously 20 years.

Water, and reverence because of its imaginative and destructive powers, is so intrinsic to the nation that the Jatiyo Sangshad Bhaban (the Bangladesh National Parliament building) in Dhaka is surrounded about three sides by a great artificially constructed lake seeing as testimony to the country’s riverine beauty. However the stunning monument, a favorite attraction that is known as one of the biggest architectural achievements of the 20th Century, retains deeper cultural symbolism, according to Khondker Neaz Rahman, who spent some time working with the Bangladesh federal government and US Development Programme on urban and regional organizing.

"In Bangladesh, we see water as a good sacred purifying element," he said. "Drinking water purifies you during ablution as a Muslim. When you are Hindu, your house is normally sprinkled with Ganga normal water. Buddhists cross a bridge or place a fountain within their space of meditation." He described that crossing over drinking water before getting into the supreme legislative physique is believed to create a good conducive mindset.

Water and nature are inextricable from life found in the tiny but densely populated nation - perhaps understandably so. "Watch out the window when your plane crosses Bangladesh during monsoon," urged Rahman, "You won't see rivers interrupting territory. Our country may be the space between rivers."

And life, it appears, is lived out in the space between excessive events of nature.

Previously three decades, Bangladesh has braved a lot more than 200 natural disasters, by some estimates. Its location at the triangular brain of the Bay of Bengal, low-lying topography, susceptibility to tropical cyclones andvulnerability to floods is normally worsened by populace density and speedy urbanisation. Its excessive vulnerability to climate switch makes droughts at one end and erratic rainfall on the different; floodplain sediments may knowledge liquefaction during earthquakes; and salinity intrusion poses an existential danger to agriculture and obtainable drinking water. Travellers will dsicover navigable waterway networks serving as default (and sometimes, primary) methods of transportation, often crowded with both modern ferries and historic paddlewheel steamers known as Rockets.

In 2020, practically 40% of the country was submerged by floods, departing 1.5 million Bangladeshis displaced. This was almost together with very cyclone Amphan in May, which cost around $13.2bn in destruction. Sayda Yesmin, leader of the NGO Association For Substitute Development (AFAD), works together with households in the flood-ravaged district of Kurigram in northern Bangladesh. "It's the fifth time they are displaced," she said.

And yet, they rebuild. Displaced however, not disillusioned, Bangladeshis seem to be to acknowledge - maybe even appreciate - the duality and complexity of nature. Understanding how to live in harmony with pure disasters is usually anancient preoccupation and guests will end up being mesmerised by poignant, generations-good old Bhatiyali folk songs both romanticising and reckoning with life on the river. "Naai ko dauriaar paari/Shaabdhaane chaalaaiyo maajhi," (The river has no limits/Steer it virtually all cautiously, boatman) proclaims one of the most iconic tunes of the genre.

"Disasters are always synthetic," said Rahman, "They are able to never be natural. Whenever we meddle with nature without understanding it and take action wrong, we blame nature." In Bangladesh, there appears to get an innate acknowledgement of the overpowering power of nature’s drive and man’s have to live in tandem using its whims.