My father was a sailor till he breathed his last at the age of 48, ironically which is my age at this very moment. He has departed from his life’s journey in haste but I vividly recall when as a little boy, I used to sit around while he used to share the exciting stories of different lands and people with his friends on his return from every voyage.
In 1984, at the last year of my father’s life, I had the opportunity to join in the Marine Academy in Chittagong, to become a sailor too, but my father disagreed to my becoming a sailor and my long harbored desire turned into ashes.
When I was a cadet in Faujdarhat Cadet College, I used to write both in Bangla and in English in different periodicals published from the college. Those were basically short stories and poems. My first travelogue was about a study tour in Sylhet areas from our cadet college in Chittagong.
In 1986, I got myself admitted in the faculty of Architecture in the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, commonly known as BUET, and I started to write for different newspapers, journals, to support myself and my family as the eldest son of a family
that met wrath of misfortune due to my father’s sudden death.
With time I also got interested in photography as I started to acquire some awards in it. At my BUET life from 1986 to 1993, I continued my study amidst hardship and simultaneously I continued to write and work in the newspaper as a reporter and photographer as well.
In 1993, I graduated as an Architect, and my interest in writing and photography although did not wane but with foot on reality I got busy by forming a consulting company as a professional architect. But as my earning got steady I embarked upon my dream to travel the world – a dream planted as a seed long time back.
The first travel took place sometime in 1995 and I started my debut tour by deciding to see the magnificent historical evidences of Mogul empires scattered throughout Delhi, Agra, Fatehpur Sikri and Joipur.
The following year, an Architectural conference at Chandigarh in India brought me another chance to visit the scenic beauty of the landscape in Simla, Kulu, Manali and to visit the Buddhist monarchy in Nepal.
In 1998, I got another opportunity of visiting deserted area of United Arab Emirates.
After my visit in these 3 countries, I pondered on the thoughts that
the clothing’s of people, the style of buildings are different from one place to another due to their difference in culture and climate.
I intended to share my findings with the broader spectrum and thus decided to exhibit the photos of my travels titled travelers’ clicks in 1999.
That was my 2nd solo photographic exhibition about the comparative studies of people and architecture in terms of the variation of climate, religion and topography.
Additionally I started writing about my last trip in UAE and a book was ready to be published named, Avwgiv‡Z †Z‡iv ivZ (Thirteen Nights in Emirates).
In the month of January 2001, I visited the USA. It played a remarkable role for my passion for writing travelogues and travel documentaries. I hired a video camera, and decided to capture things as I saw with eyes. I was keenly inquisitive to learn and observe in depth as how migrated Bangladeshis are living in the USA.
On return to Bangladesh after my 35 days of tour in 8 states of the USA, I was enriched with the 21 hrs of video footage and a note book filled with the recollection of memories of the people I met. I embarked upon narrating their stories in news papers and ended up with my 2nd travelogue named – Av‡gwiKv: Kv‡Qi gvbyl, `~‡ii gvbyl (America, as I have seen from near to distance).
2 years later, in 2003, I participated in an Architectural conference in Chili. On our way to and from Chili, the team traveled 3 European cities of architectural and historical importance. They were Athens, Paris and Berlin. This time I had the fortune of owning my own video camera. The footages I had collected from this 3 weeks journey offered me a new idea for making a series of travel documentary for a TV channel. Basically that was the beginning of converting my writings into a different form of travelogues. Although I did write two books on trip named m‡µwU‡mi evwo (The Land of Socrates) and cve‡jv †biæ`vi †`‡k (In the country of Pablo Neruda.)
The birth place of ancient scholars and philosophers in Athens, the city of Art and museums at the Paris and the amalgamation of Ancient and post modern architecture of modern Berlin is narrated in the book named m‡µwU‡mi evwo (the land of Socrates) where the nature, people, architecture and the abode of the world renowned diplomat-politician cum romantic Nobel prize winner poet Pablo Neruda was the significant attraction of my travelogue titled cve‡jv †biæ`vi †`‡k in the land of Pablo Neruda.
From 2006 to 2008, I have visited a plethora of landscapes being China, Malaysia and Singapore, Andaman Islands in India, Vietnam, England & Scotland. I wrote a book on our family visit in Malaysia and Singapore, named gvjq †_‡K wmsncyix, a journey from Malaysia to the land of lions.
The tragic war fields and the after-war reformation in socio economic conditions of Saigon was basically the focus of my book on Vietnam tour named ‡nv wP wg‡bi †`‡k, the land of Ho chi Minh.
The scenic beauty of Andaman Islands didn’t get that priority in my travelogue Kvjvcvwb (the islands of prisoners), as much the historical arenas like cellular jail, Ross Island or viper Island got. As I had noticed that some indigenous people are still living in the islands, their stories and search for their origin intrigued me more.
My travels in some parts of Scotland and England were narrated in the travelogue b`xi bvg †U (The name of the river is Tay) is basically focused on the historical cities of Dundee, St. Andrews, Edinburgh, Oxford and New castle Upon Tyne.
2009 was a fabulous year for me and my tourist team. We visited 2 countries in 3 continents those are very significant from historic ground.
Egypt had been carrying the traces of 7000 year old civilization of world architecture while Istanbul in Turkey is very important in terms of evolution and flourishing Islamic Architecture during the ottoman period which ruled for six hundred years in Turkey. The city Istanbul lies in the border of 2 continents that is Asia and Europe. It was wonderful experience to roam around the historical places left by the Ottoman Turks and was interesting to find as how the modern democratic Turks are experiencing their time. These stories have been depicted in my recent travelogue named myjZv‡bi kni (The city of Sultans).
In 2010, I participated in an architectural conference in Sri Lanka. Though our tour was limited to see the ancient heritage and new architecture, but I felt like I was travelling like our poet Jibanananda Das who in one of his poem named Banalata Sen wrote that the journey of mankind incepted from such country like Sri lanka. That is why I named my travelogue on Sri lanka as quoting from the poet as wmsnj mgy`ª †_‡K (The Journey from the sea of Sinhala).
My most recent travelogue named †jm Iqv‡jmvi †`‡k (In the country of Lech Walesa) was the outcome of my last year’s tour in Poland. After the devastating damages in Second World War and being released from the communism how this country is overcoming from poverty and acquiring a new dimension was a vital issue meriting narration.
Thus I took the liberty to share with you the eleven travelogues of mine. Some other writings on China, Egypt, Sweden, Prague, and Salzburg awaiting me in my writing table and I do hope to finish them in near future.
I believe that my academic training and learning as a student of Architecture gave me added depth to narrate these elements in detail. Once, Sir Banister Fletcher’s History of world architecture was very hard for us to memorize in our class. Now I find the objects I read in classroom are vivid in front of my eyes, my excitement in narration is thus in abundance.
Thus as marveling amidst the wonders of Stonehenge in UK, Karnak Temple in Luxor, Great pyramid of Giza in Egypt, Acropolis in Athens, Hagia Sophia in Istanbul or Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA, Stone forest in Kunming, China - I deliberately inserted the added dimension of these world renowned places from the depths of my life long pursuit through architecture, photography and traveling as sharing my treasure with my thirsty readers.
I love to believe these travelogues make my reader as essential mates of my never ending travels of inspiration.
Shakoor Majid: Architect-writer-Filmmaker
(This article was presented in Hay festival at Bangla Academy, Dhaka on 16th November 2012)
Shakoor Majid: Architect-writer-Filmmaker
BDST: 0950 HRS, NOV 17, 2012
All rights reserved. Sale, redistribution or reproduction of information/photos/illustrations/video/audio contents on this website in any form without prior permission from banglanews24.com are strictly prohibited and liable to legal action.