A wide road, with many small and big buildings that have sprung up on each side, stretches from Jamalpur town's entry to its endpoint.
Some large pillars caught my attention too – they were meant for constructing a flyover.
But, what will fascinate a Dhaka resident is that vehicles don't race each other on the roads – it is completely opposite to what we regularly witness on Dhaka roads. I saw some cows roaming the sidewalks close to the under-construction flyover pillars, while one or two were chewing their cuds.
I came to know that Jamalpur's main bus stand is located outside the town. Most people here prefer travelling by train. So it is a relatively difficult job to get a Jamalpur-bound train ticket – you have to purchase a ticket, be it online or at a station counter, at least a week before you travel.
A person was supposed to receive me at the Jamalpur station. As the train reached the station a little earlier than the scheduled time, I did not wait for him and went out. The place I first reached was Gatepar – one of the busiest areas in the town with hustle and bustle all around.
But what drew me were the sweetmeat shops, one after the other, with different names such as Sanwar Sweets and Restaurant, Munshi Hotel and Sweets, Nur Sweets etc. On the opposite side of the road were also sweet shops, namely Mauban Sweets and Restaurant, Gopal, and Misti Kanon.
With no work until I met my local representative, I thought, why should I not start a meal in Jamalpur with sweets?
I saw a well dressed man and asked him which sweet shop was better. Staring at me from head to toe, the gentleman asked, "Are you new here? I nodded my head.
"There is an only sweet shop in Jamalpur that you can call the best. And, none of what you have so far come across qualifies as that. The best sweet shop is "Burimar Misttano Bhandar''.
The name sounded a bit weird.
Then, I collected the sweet shop's address, took a rickshaw and set off to find it. When I reached the middle of the town, I found a small shop with "Ma Misttano Bhandar" painted on a signboard over the door. "Burimar Misti'' was written in brackets on it. The shop did not have any decorations to speak of.
I saw a youth sitting at the cash counter with a framed photo of a middle-aged woman set on the wall over his head. Her name is Amala Bala Shaha, aka Burima, and her appearance gave off an aristocratic feel.
Seventy five years ago, Burima's sweet shop began its journey.
Soon after her marriage, Burima with her husband shifted to Jamalpur from Manikganj's Baliati. During that time, Jamalpur was abuzz in jute trade.
As her husband spent the entire day at a jute warehouse, Amala got bored with nothing much to do at home. To rid herself of loneliness, she learnt how to make sweets from her friend Shaymoli Ghosh and opened a very small shop to sell doi (yogurt) and chira (flattened rice). Ambala soon saw a good number of customers coming to her eatery.
The doi-chira shop is today's famous Burimar Misttano Bhandar. The business has been passed down nearly three generations.
Lal Mohon Shaha, a tall and heavy man with grey hair, was one of the oldest employees who worked with Ambala and learnt how to make sweets from her.
He started chatting with me. Lalmohon was the only sweetmaker at the shop during Burima's time.
After the death of her husband, Amala Shaha devoted all her labour and time to the sweet shop. The motto of her business was honesty and good behaviour. Burima used to make sweets herself, handle customers and keep accounts. She died in 2004.
"One of Burima's two sons was an advocate, but he joined his mother's business," Lal Mohon said. And the sweet shop's two branches opened.
Alongside sweets, luchi and halwa were added to the breakfast menu. Halwa prepared in the shop soon became very popular for its delicate taste.
"People still talk about this halwa." But after Burima's death, the luchi-halwa maker went away and never came back. The two branches are now closed. Nevertheless, the single shop sees sales of 1-1.5 maunds of sweets and yogurts every day. Some 12 employees are engaged in the shop.
Burima's two sons died too. Her grandson now looks after the business. But he was not at the cash counter. He comes in the evening, or at night, just to collect the money.
Lalmohon sounded a little disappointed. "I babysat him with Burima," he sighed deeply.
Burima's business is now in the hands of the third generation – it is a matter of concern as many well-known businesses in Bangladesh have faded away or lost their lustre with this generation taking over.