Some Weep, Some Laugh: Memoirs of an American Family in Dacca 1960-1967

By Mary Frances Dunham

Editing and  graphic layout by Katherine Dunham

-- Updated 07/2019 edition --

(Formerly titled: In the Wake of the Raj, Our Lives in Dacca from 1960-1967)

Welcome to my memories of our days in “Wonderland,” as Dan, my husband, called our life in East Pakistan during the 1960s, the decade before the Bangladesh 1971 War of Liberation. With the help of my daughter, Katherine, I have taken the time to cull these memories from scrapbooks and boxes so that they are easy to share with family, friends and others who might be interested in what life was like for a foreign family living in Asia at this time.  Rather than chronologically displaying the photos, letters, notes and other memorabilia in chronological order, I have opted to organize the materials by theme.  In this way, you may browse these five volumes as you would explore an exotic bazar stopping to linger at any items that might catch your eye.

volume 1

1. Getting Acquainted
2. Making a Home
3. Mustering “Our Gang”


volume 2

4. Sah'b in the Office
5. Memsah'b at School
6. Child in the Garden

volume 3

7. Culture
8. Invitations
9. Projects

volume 4

10. Not Far Away
11. More Far Away
12. Very Far Away

volume 5

13. Weather
14. Discomforts
15. Strife


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5 thoughts on “Some Weep, Some Laugh: Memoirs of an American Family in Dacca 1960-1967

  1. I don’t know how to begin. There is a page in Facebook as ‘ DHAKA- 400 years History in Photographs’ . The page admin uploaded a photograph of a 1960 Shahbagh Hotel Bill of Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Dunham. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Then other photographs started appearing. Who could ever think that I will embark on a search to find long lost Mrs. Dunham, Kate and Steve. Stay blessed. Regards Tutu

  2. Mary and Kate. Trying to get in touch with u guys. Plz respond. Thanx

    The man from Dacca(Dhaka)

  3. Reading Mrs. Dunham’s memoirs, several of my fond memories resurfaced instantly. This one was most likely of 1966 or ‘67. My Father was employed with the East Pakistan Government. We lived in a government quarter along a street called Circuit House road (close to Shantinagar). I was either in 5th grade or 6th attending Shiddeshwari Boy’s school. Dhaka streets were safe at that time so, we walked from home to the school every day. We started at the Circuit House Road then turned left to side street (do not remember the name) which ran along the East side of Vikarunnessa school after crossing the Bailey Road. It was about a total of four blocks on this street before we arrived the west end of Shiddeshwari Road. After making the right turn on it, at about midpoint before the school gate, there was a house with a boundary wall built with brick posts and woven bamboo mat screens. On the other side of it, often we caught glimpse of a very tall ‘sada sahib’ and a ‘Mem sahib’ sitting in the front porch or the little lawn of a one story house. It was not very common to see White people in Dhaka at the time especially in that part of the city. For kids of our age, it was almost an experience of watching aliens (not used in a derogatory term). And believe me, on our lucky days, we also saw a “porir moto baccha meye” (a girl that looked like a fairy) playing around the house. On our way back home from school, we almost all the time slowed down in front of the house and raised ourselves on our toes to peek above the boundary wall to see the house and the residents. I still remember a very mean (!!!) person whooshing us away with a ‘kachi’ ( a crescent shaped knife with a wooden handle used for chopping tall grass and trimming plants). Oh, that must have been the ‘mali.’ Of course we never had a chance to talk or know who the ‘shahib’, the ‘memshahib’ and the ‘Pori baccha’ were until about 50 years later I now know. Amazing, isn’t it?

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