By Linus Rees, chair of trustees
I took a walk over to Camden Bangladesh Mela this afternoon. Samina, our senior development worker, has had the pleasure and the huge responsibility of chairing the Mela committee this year since May.
Whilst it is quite an honour to lead the organisation of this event, it is a huge amount of work to take on. Samina had to juggle her work at the Neighbourhood Centre and the responsibility for a huge cultural event.
But when I arrived at Regent’s Park with my camera to take pictures for Fitzrovia News, there was a sight well worth the effort. Thousands of people were gathered enjoying the music, artworks, food and some decent sunshine.
Of particular interest for myself was the Ricksha Fusion project that we have been contributing to at the Neighbourhood Centre. Being a fan of all things pedal-powered it was a delight to see the completed cycle rickshaw decorated with images of London, Dhaka, Britain and Bangladesh.
The cycle is wonderful thing. Cycles were developed in Britain in the 19C and spread worldwide. There are twice as many bicycles in the world as there are cars (thank goodness!). Cycles made their way to the Indian sub-continent and while their use in Britain declined in the mid-20C they remained popular in India and Bangladesh.
Dhaka in Bangladesh is known as the rickshaw capital of the world. There are about 400,000 rickshaws in use in a city of 13 million people. The cycle rickshaws are beautifully decorated and are very much the image of the city as red double-decker buses are in London.
The cycle rickshaw returning to the land that invented the bicycle is a sort of coming home. Yet the Dhaka rickshaw artists have taken a product of the industrial revolution and turned it into a working artwork.
It is both the cycle as utility and as a piece of art that is being celebrated with Ricksha Fusion.