Excursion to Dhaka

Finishing up in the muddy rivers of NE Bangladesh, we headed downstream to switch to the mighty Brahmaputra River system. However, on the way down I had to jump ship to go into traffic-clogged Dhaka for some meetings before rejoining her on the Padma, the name of the combined Ganges and Brahmaputra Rivers.

Mike Steckler
September 21, 2011
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Steve, Rafael and Nano discuss our route and schedule for the end of the cruise.

Since we were unable to get the Kokilmoni up to the border on the largest river coming from the Plateau with imaging still difficult, we decided to pull the gear and head downstream on over to the Brahmaputra.  We steamed quickly downstream to the one region where we got good imaging.  This time we took different channels and once again saw the buried folds at the front to the subduction zone.  With two crossing, we will be able to confirm their direction.  With this good news, we compromised between the scientists wanting to always continue collecting data and the crew needing to rest.  Humayun found a small port off of Araihazar, where I first worked in Bangladesh with the Columbia University Arsenic project and met Steve.

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The science team on the BanglaPIRE2011 cruise posed in front of the bridge.

This marks the end of Steve’s time on the cruise.  In preparation for his leaving, we held endless discussions on the rest of the cruise, taking into account the need for pilots to navigate the everchanging Padma and Jamuna (Brahmaputra). Humayun, Selim and Babu are also leaving, but a new geologist met us and I will bring Saddam Hossain (no relation) In this small port on the Meghna River east of Dhaka, we had to wade to shore from the launch. Of course, the ride to Dhaka was slowed by heavy traffic, and we arrived at 12:30AM.

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An all too common traffic standstill in Dhaka.

The Ambala Hotel felt like home, as we always use it when in Dhaka. Then a whirlwind day of meetings, cups of tea and traffic. The high point was when someone mistook me for a Bangaldeshi – until I opened my mouth. The morning meetings filled through the afternoon, consuming any hope for free time.  All meetings in Dhaka seem to be time approximate due to traffic. Then we juggled two dinner invitations by doing appetizers at one and dinner at the other.  The appetizers were so extensive, I insisted Steve join me to help eat them.  Still, everything went very well, except by the morning Steve was gone, off on his 4:30AM flight home.

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Luisa and others getting dinner on the M/V Kokilmoni.

During the day I learned that the ship would only make it as far as Chandpur, where they had to arrange for a pilot.  Too far for me to join them in the morning.  I had to wait until they arrive at their next stop, Mawa Ghat, at the end of the day to switch pilots.  Mawa is on the Padma – the name for the mighty combined Ganges and Brahmaputra Rivers.  I spent a quiet day in Dhaka working with Humayun and Dhiman, then picked up liquid supplies to keep the scientists happy, and finally the long traffic-filled drive to Mawa.  The opposition party has called for a hartal – a general strike – tomorrow, so traffic was extra heavy as there will be no driving in Dhaka tomorrow.  Now I am back on the ship hearing their stories of the trip up the Padma.