Park Life

by Mohammad Rakibul Hasan



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Trees in the park provide shelter to urban birds.

City parks are places for refreshment. People come here to seek solitude and breathe fresh air – indeed it gives urban people a sense of openness. With the rapid urbanization of Dhaka city, greenery is diminishing day by day. The city has a burden of more than twenty million people, most of them migrants in search of a better life. The continued existence of vegetation and natural water reservoirs are determined by powerful people – but corruption and lack of good governance is rampant. Public parks, open spaces and playgrounds around the city are the only resorts for the public. A few of these parks are floating slums fraught with unhygienic conditions and diseases.

The flora of Dhaka is totally threatened by desperate urbanization and industrialization. Areas with extensive vegetation are not only the source of oxygen but also help prevent air pollution as well as maintain ecological balance by providing refuge for birds and stray animals. The city has already been declared as the most unlivable city in the world. It is important to decentralize the city of Dhaka as well as to increase the number of parks and other recreation facilities to save the city from impending disaster.

Editor’s Note – Anil Cherukupalli
Urban parks have often been called the ‘lungs’ of a city. They literally and metaphorically offer a breathing space in otherwise crowded urban landscapes. They are by products of humanity’s need for green spaces but green spaces that are manipulated-trimmed bushes, mowed lawns and laid out paths. Unlike the wilder jungles inhabited by our distant ancestors urban parks are products of a settled civilization that appreciates order.

For the overcrowded cities of South Asia, parks are even more essential as they act as a space where the frustrations of an urban life can be temporarily left behind. Hasan’s photos in this photo essay explore one such space in Dhaka. He captures the varied activities that play out in the park. From a child taking a nap to a young couple lost in each other, these well composed photos offer glimpses of private worlds of such people across the park. There is a sense of intimacy that shines through these photos that is so difficult to achieve without seeming intrusive. But the best part is how the photographer has sequenced the essay. This is one essay where no editing was required as the photos had an organic flow. And it is this sense of flow, the flow of life if you will, that emerges from this photo essay that reaches out and holds your attention and makes you want to be a part of park life too.

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About Mohammad Rakibul Hasan
Mohammad Rakibul Hasan is a documentary photographer based in Bangladesh, represented by Falcon Photo Agency, Australia. He has studied Film & Video Production at the UBS Film School, University of Sydney, and later completed a Post Graduate Diploma in Photojournalism through a scholarship program of World Press Photo at the Konrad Adenauer Asian Center for Journalism (Ateneo De Manila University). He was nominated for the Joop Swart Masterclass, UNICEF photo of the year, short-listed in the Ian Parry scholarship and Sony World Photography Awards. Hasan is currently studying Art History through an online program at the University of Oxford.

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  • Omar

    this is wonderful work by Rakibul… the pics of the lady in the pool with her baby crying by the side, the barber, the chaiwala…

    What I see as an additional perspective that would be interesting to capture —-> parks also provide people a place to rest in the course of their daily work, esp in cities where the living spaces are constrained… like the small time salesmen, the people running after petty errands to earn a living (distributing pamphlets etc.) the dabbawallahs (more specific to Mumbai though), the cart-pullers, the rickshaw-wallahs, people travelling to the city in search of a job/living and having nowhere to stay (the city is teeming with such people)… The green foliage of the parks and its shade provide them with the best place to catch an afternoon nap.. And since most parks are without an entry fee, that goes well with them.