Saturday, August 23, 2008

How a nice place in Bangladesh got a name like this

Bazar is a commonly part of place names here -- many of what we'd call "squares" or piazzas in the west are known as bazars here -- Karam Bazar, Mogh Bazar. The bazar part is usually a reference to a big market (bazaar) that served as the landmark that put the place on the map originally. But the question here is -- who was Cox.

For the answer I refer you to a blog written by a university administrator with whom I worked and shopped in Dhaka. Shahnaz is a life-long resident with a big store of information about the country and the capital. She also totally appreciates food and travel and her pet dog (unusual in Muslim populations where they generally are regarded as "dirty." She believes this is a misinterpretation of Koran.) Anyway, she knew the story of Cox, though it is not verified, she warns on her blog.

Hiram Cox was an 18th century captain in the British East India Company and he was appointed superintendent of a region in south Bangladesh that had seen decades of bloodshed between natives and various conquerors of which the British were the latest. He set out making a better life for refugees in the areas who were in conflict with the locals, but he died prematurely with the job undone. Still, he'd made a big enough impression that a market was named after him. And you see what happened as a new town took shape. We end up with a British name.

Shahnaz's blog "Dhaka Dweller" is at

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