When I travel, I always try to learn of the things that we can do back home in Bangladesh. One thing I have noticed is that we are not into long-term planning. Thus, there is a huge waste of hard-earned cash.
In the old town of Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, formerly a part of the Russian bloc, life seems to be passing well, with all its buildings and parks.
I landed in Estonia on a cruise ship from Finland and a taxi driver took me straight to the old parts of Tallinn, a UNESCO heritage town. Indeed, all the shops and restaurants are mixed in such a away that the town has not lost its glory of many hundred years.
There were men and women dressed in their original attire dating back to the time of kings who once ruled the country.
I, along with my friends, spent the whole day walking around the scenic town and shopped for souvenirs.
I was surprised that most of it was hand-made clay pottery or woodwork.
I wondered why we can’t use our crafts properly in the Old Dhaka parts or in Panam Nagar in Narayanganj. Near the High Court, the pottery shops are amazing.
We need to present them at hotels and city shops where tourists go. We have to be innovative.
The other thing we are bad at is maintenance.
Look at Hatirjheel. How beautiful it is, but parts of it have been damaged, and plenty of items, such as bins, have been stolen.
During lunch at a restaurant called La Tampa, we enjoyed typical Estonian food. Very simple, yet gorgeously presented with salads and potatoes. We too can present our food in more artistic ways at tourist destinations.
In Paphos, the small beach town of Cyprus, which has been kept alive beautifully, I found a little bit of Cox’s Bazar. My hotel was close to the beach and not too far away from streets lined up with clubs.
The other thing we are bad at is maintenance. Look at Hatirjheel. How beautiful it is, but parts of it have already been damaged, and plenty of items, such as bins, have been stolen
The advantage they have is they have rocks on the beach and they have carved out a beach that suits the visitors best. There are boats and, of course, a huge collection of shops selling souvenirs and other knick-knacks facing the beach.
It is nice and safe to stroll around even at ungodly hours, and the food, too, is unique.
I asked for a typical Cypriot dish and what I got with a smile was another surprise. The beef tasted just like the ones cooked at home, with vegetables that are very common on our tables.
The bread was special and it was a wonderful treat.
The roads are narrow like Cox’s Bazaar, but they are well maintained with lots of lights. Colourful, even on a rainy damp day.
There are a few lessons for us. To begin with, it is to present ourselves more beautifully after researching what goes best with our cultures and traditions.
Then, we need to be polite and always keep a smiling face. We must plan out our cities in such a way that it will last for generations.
We could put up statues of our famous sons of the soil and get the private sector involved.
We have everything, yet we are far behind. We need to learn and quickly implement them.
Nadeem Qadir is the Press Minister of Bangladesh High Commission in London.