When the ricksha meets the Rolls

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Rolls at Alsisar Haveli
Rolls at Alsisar Haveli

Following on from Tom Hatlestad’s epic journey from Oslo to Dhaka in a Land Rover, Rupert Grey and the Grey family, roll into town in a Rolls. It’s not just any old Rolls Royce. Rupert, a lawyer with a passion for photography, is the great grandson of the former British  prime minister Earl Grey (whom the tea is named after), whose statue adorned Westminster Abbey. A regular visitor to Chobi Mela, Rupert decided to bring his 1936 Rolls Royce to Dhaka for the festival. The antique Rolls had travelled through the Rajasthan deserts and gone along the foothills of the Himalayas and followed the Brahmaputra to Bangladesh, but was stopped at the Tamabil border, when bureaucracy kicked in.

 

Amphibian Rolls crossing the Brahmaputra
Amphibian Rolls crossing the Brahmaputra

The traditional method of temporary entry for cars, the carnet, had been stopped in Bangladesh and there was no law that would allow the car to make it’s final let. But as Rupert himself quotes, “Bangladesh is also a country where everything is possible”  and after a very long and protracted process where all the right people had to be convinced of the genuineness of the venture, and with much help from many different quarters, the car finally made it’s way into Bangladesh. Only to be stopped enroute to Dhaka because of a petrol strike.

 

Rupert hard at work
Rupert hard at work

The car arrives in Dhaka today and will be joining the traditional Chobi Mela rally in front of the National Museum tomorrow (the 25th January) at 3:00 pm. It is here at Chobi Mela where the rickshaw meets the Rolls.

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Arshad Jamal, Khushi Kabir, Gitiara Chowdhury, Kamran Chowdhury and especially Saleh Ahmed all worked behind the scenes to make this happen. In the end though it was the Chairman of NBR who found the way to get through the legal hoops.

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About Shahidul Alam

A photographer, writer, curator and activist, Shahidul Alam obtained a PhD in chemistry at London University before switching to photography. He returned to his hometown Dhaka in 1984, where he photographed the democratic struggle to remove General Ershad. A former president of the Bangladesh Photographic Society, Alam set up the award winning Drik agency, the Bangladesh Photographic Institute and Pathshala, the South Asian Media Institute, considered one of the finest schools of photography in the world. Director of the Chobi Mela festival and chairman of Majority World agency, Alam’s work has been exhibited in galleries such as MOMA in New York, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Royal Albert Hall and Tate Modern in London and The Museum of Contemporary Arts in Tehran. He has been a guest curator of the Whitechapel Gallery, the Musee de Quai Branly and the Brussels Biennale. Alam’s numerous photographic awards include the Mother Jones and the Howard Chapnick Awards and the Open Society Institute Audience Engagement Grant. A speaker at US universities, Harvard, Stanford and UCLA, Oxford and Cambridge universities in the UK and the Powerhouse Museum in Brisbane, Alam has been a jury member in prestigious international contests, including World Press Photo which he chaired and Prix Pictet. An Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, Alam is a visiting professor of Sunderland University in the UK. He is on the advisory board of the National Geographic Society and the Eugene Smith Fund. His recent book “My Journey as a witness” was listed in the “Best Photo Books of 2011” by American Photo. Former picture editor of Life Magazine John Morris considers the book “The most important book ever written by a photographer”
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